Once a Luddite, Not Always a Luddite
If you would’ve asked me about taking an online course a few years ago, there’s a good chance I would’ve chuckled and even scoffed at the idea. I used to be the student in the class who refuses to take notes on her computer. I prefer the old-fashioned way–pen and paper. As a student attending a technologically savvy school in the 21st century, it’s obviously impossible to avoid technology, and I graciously accepted the iPad my math teacher gave me for Calculus this year. But I don’t usually go out of my way to do things the “technology” way: If a teacher doesn’t require taking notes on a computer, you can bet I’ll be using a notebook. To be quite honest, technology most of the time just confuses me and results in too many complications, and I find myself getting more frustrated with a process that’s supposed to be made easier. So last year, I even surprised myself when I elected to take the online course. I made the decision to try something new, and while it can be difficult at times, I’m glad I challenged myself.
After taking AP Government online for almost a month now, I can confidently say that I have finally mastered Voice thread, which is definitely my personal biggest accomplishment so far. I’m proud of myself for putting in the effort to learn how new and interesting technologies like Dropbox and the discussion forums function. Dropbox allows a student to directly submit her homework to her teacher, and facilitates the process of submitting assignments. I’m glad that I took the leap out of my comfort zone; that I traded the world of loose-leaf paper and whiteboards for Google hangout and Vimeo. As I’ve mentioned, it wasn’t always this way. In the beginning of the year, or really up until about last week, I found myself getting frustrated with the online course’s technologies–it wasn’t easy learning how to create an online Google slideshow presentation with a group of four other girls from across the world. However, more recently, I’ve learned that patience is the best virtue. Patience is essential when using technology–which I think is quite ironic because technology was made to make everything faster and more efficient. I’ve noted, so far, that an online course requires a completely different mindset to approach learning.
In my opinion, the easiest of the online tools we use is Google docs, just because I’m so familiar with it already from my classes last year. I also really appreciate the accessibility of the other students in my course. I thought it would be very difficult to reach everyone in my class, but I feel like as the weeks go by I’m getting to know everyone even better, through the discussions and comments we post online. It’s a pleasant surprise that I can get to really know girls from completely unfamiliar states and backgrounds from mine. However, the most difficult part of AP Government is the same thing: communicating with the other girls in my class. Because we all are working from different time zones, it can be pretty frustrating to connect with someone from across the country. But I optimistically see this as an opportunity to try something foreign and new. I’m taking note of everything I’m learning–like when I have a group project assigned for the weekend, it might not be a good idea to email everyone else in my group Sunday afternoon. Taking an online class is definitely not easy–it’s like a unpredictable ride–but I’m all buckled in and ready to continue the journey.#
Ariana Salvatore is currently a senior at Marymount School of New York.