Monday, May 31, 2010

Class in the Digital Age

Today was my first day of online classes through my seminary. Even though online classes are (sadly and unfortunately) more expensive, I figured it would be worth it if I could get done with school faster. The three classes I'm taking are Early and Medieval Christian History, Reformation and Modern Christian History, and Introduction to Pastoral Counseling.

After the first day of class, I have to say that I think online classes were created for people like me and that I'm going to enjoy them. Sure, I'm going to miss having constant contact with the professors, especially since history professors have a knack for telling great stories. For me, though, the different discussion format is a positive thing. As an introvert who likes to think through my words before speaking, posting and responding to others on a discussion board is both meaningful and less frustrating than conventional classes.

Online classes make me think back to my freshman year of college. I got into the honors English class so that I could read and talk about books instead of learning how to write a five paragraph essay for the hundredth time. My professor was Dr. Miller. He was a younger guy who had some interesting teaching techniques which used technology. Instead of meeting in a normal classroom, our class would meet in the computer lab of the university. Although most of our time was spent discussing out loud about the current book or working on essays, about once a week, he would tell us to enter the class' online chat room. It may sound ridiculous, but it worked. Those of us who didn't talk much were leaders in online discussions. This teaching technique gave the whole class a chance to display their strengths and gain confidence in the world of literary critique.

Should every class use this teaching method? Probably not. Should more classes use online methods? Probably so.