Well, this has been a productive winter break!
Because I’m trying to complete the AEM major in 3 semesters so I can spend a semester in Washington, I’ve been busy this break taking two required classes: public speaking at a local college, and AEM 3230: Managerial Accounting online.
Let me tell you something: taking an online class through Cornell, that counts for credit and goes into my GPA, has been a pretty unique experience. If you’re as knowledgable as I was 3 weeks ago, and had no idea how a 3000-level business course could be taught online, here’s the low-down:
- On December 26th, I was enrolled into the course’s BlackBoard site, and was given access to a PDF syllabus that broke down suggested textbook reading assignments over the 3 week duration of the course. As long as you are meeting homework and quiz deadlines (see the third bullet), you can move about at your own pace.
- The Professor has been using video presentation software to lecture us on the material using PowerPoints, in a manner presumably no different than she would at the front of a lecture hall. See here:
- Grades are given on virtual homework sets and quizzes. Both of these grade components are through McGraw Hill’s Connect software, and you input your answers online. It’s great to get instant feedback on if you’re understanding the material, but sometimes the software isn’t so nice if you’re .01 off from the right answer (namely, it marks it completely wrong).
- There’s a course discussion board, where you can chat with fellow classmates about the course material and ask questions.
- There is also an in-person, traditional final administered once I get back to Ithaca in a week or two.
A few people have asked me to write about my thoughts regarding online learning, once I’ve gotten into the hang of the course. I’ll just come out and say that if you’re a motivated student, it can be a great, effective experience. It’s great being able to pause a lecture to let material “soak in” before hitting play on the video again. It’s great reading the virtual discussion boards and seeing my fellow classmates help each other out, with the conversations logged so everyone can benefit from them. And lastly, it’s great getting instant feedback on my homework. Do I miss the in-person classroom experience at all? Ehh, a little. Sometimes a quick conceptual clarification might be easier face-to-face. But overall, the professor has been phenomenal and it’s been a very positive experience.
As we enter this virtual age, does this signal the end of higher education as we know it? (Have I had to brave these upstate NY winters for nothing?)