Thursday, September 30, 2010

Learning and Sharing...

     I am currently finished with all my assignments for week one of my online course - Dimensions of Learning.  Mind you, it is only day 3 of the course. This is what I have learned so far:

  • 29% of the people under the age of 25 in America have Bachelor's Degrees. (Shocking or not?)
  • There is no excuse for not learning.  An entire book was written about learning.  I know I read it for the   course
  • How you learn is essential to learning.  
  • Time Management is a must to do online courses (and anything else in life)
  • The stories and andedotes in the book are very cool and fascinating.  For instance, one quote is from the queen of online learning (I didn't know about her either until now) and she said that online teachers can see their students mind not just their faces. I liked that one.
  • Quizzes online are very different than in school.  (Especially if the quiz you are taking uses different terminology than the terminology on the site - too long to explain)

    I have all ready moved onto Week 2, done the assignment and my first discussion.  So now I have to learn about a few theories of intelligence.  This may not be very important to say, but in reading the first theory of intelligence, it seemed to make sense.  Everyone learns differently. Everyone's use of intelligence is different.  I like that doctors use studies to prove it, but I wonder how they decided to do it.  For instance with Gardner's Theory of Intelligence.  Did he wake up one day and just think 'that would be a good idea for a study?' or did he discuss it with friends, etc. And did his friends say the same thing at his results?  You know how your friends can be.  "Makes sense" "of course", etc.  Or in this day and age of technology, would it just be a simple "great!", "go gard...",  "wow", "wonderful".  

    Completely getting off track, but that annoys me.  The thing about leaving a comment for some people on a picture, or whatever.  "Great", "Wow", "Wonderful".  Do they think this is helpful feedback?  I, myself have major issues with feedback, too little, too much, too cruel, too nice.  But I'm strange and completely tied to my emotional stream (which can go crazy at any time).  I mean if I leave a comment I try to be insightful.  A little more than "yea" "nice" "wow".  Of course on Face Book all we need to do is click on a link and say we like something.  Maybe that's right after all.  You didn't have much to say about it, but I liked it.  In any case we can blame Face Book for that.  They came up with that link.  I'm certain in the not too distant future (unless I just haven't seen it yet), the world of the Internet will come up with an application we can all put on our banners and such -  "Did you like this?"  "Love this?"  "Hate this?"  Oh no, wait, I have seen that.  Never mind, it's all ready here.  Who needs conversation?  Who needs insight?  I'm ranting, but it is scary that we have gone from such rich thoughts as people to one word expressions.

    Of course writing in a blog does make that statement a bit funny.  I guess I don't like one word expressions.  And the fact that blogs have taken over, I would imagine a lot of other people feel the same.

    What I do like about the online course I'm taking is that the discussion responses from other students are supposed to be insightful, bring up conversation, provide opinions, like a classroom discussion.  It sounds interesting so far.  I think I'll take some time off studying textbooks, working on line, reading, and writing for a while and do my own time management -- Dinner!

Until next time...


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

First Assignment..

                I have to say ‘walking’ into my online class for the first time was very interesting.  I started to read the other students replies to the initial post we were to have made called appropriately 'Post Your Intro' --  they had written one paragraph, about 3 or 4 sentences long.  I had written about 5 paragraphs, much longer answering four out of the seven questions posed. I got worried again, surprise!  I mean what if I am over thinking these assignments?  In the back of my mind I'm thinking 'yes, I am over thinking.'  As a matter of fact that sentence I just wrote shows the over thinking, doesn't it?  How many times can I use it in a sentence?  And now I'm even sick of the word: over thinking (and I used to like that word before.  Maybe, it's because the word seems long, like the word is over thinking the word).  Nevermind...that thought went far, far away.

                It has come down to these; I am writing this blog to clear my mind a bit.  A lot is going on in my head. I am planning out my week for school and I am panicking.  What if my assignments are not to be done the way?  Am I doing them correctly?  After all, I have been given a lot of paperwork (online) to figure out what the assignments are and 'how to' do them, but a lot is still left up to me.  I love independency, but not when I'm getting graded.  I want to know what my instructor is thinking when she grades the assignments.  Is it too much to ask?  Let me tell you, I am thinking, she might just not want to read mine.  Especially when she sees the length, but as the song goes "hey, I'm a writer" (Sunset Boulevard, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Broadway).   I figure, in the end one grade on an assignment can't just remove everything I have ever learned.  I am falling into my habit of being hard on myself.  I need to 'cease and desist' this behavior and replace it with a more positive outlook.  For instance, I could not be going back to school.   

                   Whew!  Much better.  Now about the next assignment.  We were asked to talk about how we learn and give an example and what our weakness in learning is and give an example.  All right, I'm ready --- five paragraphs later, the assignment is done.  If only I wasn't terrified still of going into the classroom and realizing everyone wrote one paragraph per section.  By the way (just to let you in why I have anxiety), I made the mistake of reading the breakdown of how the posts are graded.  Excellent, Good, Fair, etc.  no pressure though.  Guess that I haven't quite figured out how to balance my anxiety with learning yet.  I feel like maybe as an addendum to my assignment I should put in this blog today.  Then again, bad idea since the post would be many more paragraphs than I already have.  By the way, does anyone know if it's grammatically correct to use 'already' or 'all ready'.  That one frustrates me.  I think I'll look it up.   I can say I thought I knew grammar pretty well (don't even know if that is correct, 'pretty well' sounds slang) but now that I have read the material on comma usage, sentence structure, etc from this class I'm not so certain anymore.  I will say this: I love spell checker !  Best invention since sliced bread.

                  I have one final question:  Did you ever think you would read this much from anyone?  Thanks for listening to me out there in 'internet land'.  I have to say with all the material that is available I should take a test for anxiety -- no, wait, then I will be anxious again.

                 Oh, almost forgot to add:  Carolyn, who is my enrollment advisor at the college did say that I could include her and the links to the college in my blog.  So, if you are thinking about doing online courses (don't use my anxiety-driven nightmare thoughts as a deterrent, believe me I'm over thinking) you can contact her directly at:  

                         No I am not a person from the college trying to get people to enroll.  Promise.  I am really taking courses there.  I just thought I would provide some info in case anyone needed it.  However, if you are one of those people who sees conspiracy in everything and this just proves it again I have to say:  you are cool ...seriously, if you can see that, enlighten me! I try to find conspiracy and just end up finding out people aren't that interesting or creative.  Conspiracy is what this country seems  built on most of the time, and that means you have the 'pulse' of the nation.  Great job!  (and I mean that).  However, if you can stop for a moment and remember that if I was from the university I would not have made myself so anxiety driven and a wreck at times.  The idea is to 'put your best foot forward' right?  Now I have to think about which is my best foot.

                 I guess it would be - the foot of my brain,  wherever that is?  I could ask my friend who teaches Brain and Behavior.  He would know.  Off to work some more on my next assignment/post about learning.  One thing I have learned from writing this blog that my thoughts are constant and the box to write this blog into keeps exiting and returning with the wrong formatting.  Computers are frustrating when they don't cooperate.  Such anti-authoritarian machines!  Next blog will be written in Word and transferred to this little box.  Word doesn't have such an attitude.  

             Until next time...




Monday, September 27, 2010

I Hear the Bell Ringing...

     Tomorrow is the day that my first college course opens.  Yea!  Oh, no!  What am I thinking?!  Just to let you in on a few thoughts.  Since I last wrote on this blog, our theater group has done a play, I finished a PowerPoint presentation for graduate students in Neuropsychology that I am doing in November (yes, I am teaching PowerPoint to grad students, or at the very least I am showing them what the program is capable of -- either way, it's teaching), and two of my favorite shows are back on the air - The Amazing Race and Biggest Loser.

     I found out a lot about my options for course credits.  There are the PLAs (Prior Learning Assessment) that are available to get credit for my work experience.  So I figured it out this way. Let me know what you think.  Here's my course schedule (for the first 46 credits) and my experience(that hopefully I can use for the credits):

  •         Introduction to Literature                  
      • Published five novels, written short stories & plays (over 20 years exp)
  •         English Composition I & II
      • Written for newspapers, have been a columnist, written articles, press releases and many other interviews and such for print
      • Novelist
      • Public Information Officer/Press Secretary
  • Computer Literacy
      • I'm really not saying anything about this except: I'm writing a blog, I am doing a PowerPoint Presentation, working on several video projects, researching on the Internet, Budgeting, etc., etc.

      Those are the ones I can come up with, but that's just for these courses.  Hopefully, if all goes well, I can receive some PLA credit for my work.  I have to say I like the idea of getting credit for work experience.  It makes me feel like maybe all that time off school was just as useful.  By the way, current stats, only 25% of Americans hold a Bachelor's Degree.  At first, I read that in my new school book and thought, really?  There are a lot of people lying, but then it occurred to me, maybe that's true.  Because a lot of people I know don't have one, including me, and a lot of people I know are still working on theirs.  I thought about it and I know about seven people that have a Bachelor's Degree.  That's small, when you think about it.

     I must say getting ready to go back to school is probably as exhausting as going back.  I mean I read all the schedules, the material, the worksheets, did a few assignments, worked on some Internet resources, and then I got up the 2nd day.  It's crazy.  By the way, the student portal (classroom) actually opened for viewing on this past Friday.  So all excited, ready to go in and look around when ---bang!--- I was locked out!  Quick called the tech support, open 24/7.  Yea!  Not so much.  When I got two different people on the phone on Friday and Saturday, they directed me to another phone number.  That one wasn't open for assistance until Monday.  Ugggh!!!!  Frustration set in.  But for the first time in a long time (it seemed) I calmed down.  No use in worrying about it.  So I didn't.  Oh you know what?

     They were wrong anyway.  I called this morning (Monday) to the same 24/7 tech support number and found out that it was correct after all.  Now, I know it sounds like they are disorganized, but they did get me back on track and I'm in!  So I'll cut them some slack.  After all, there could be a lot of students starting.  

      Here's the deal now:  I have to post my first assignment by tomorrow (Tuesday) before the end of class, and since the University goes by their time (Central), one hour behind me, then I get an extra hour (I guess).  Always look on the bright side of life (insert whistling here for the Monty Python fans!).  

      I didn't want to forget this time, I wanted to put a link up from my college.  You know, just in case anyone wants to see it.  So here you go!

     My final thoughts for the day:

  • Ice Cream is Good
  • The Pretender TV show should have finished their story
  • Good friends are like aged rum -  they get better and better
  • Being married always makes me smile
  • The grammar checker on the computer is suggested not always right
  • 80s music is still rockin'
  • Some 10 year-olds can really act (the girls in our show this past weekend were amazing!)
  • Having fun can never be downplayed
  • Dreaming of unicorns, knights in shining armor, and rolling fields is necessary sometimes
and for everything else there is MasterCard!

Until next time...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Feeling like a school girl again...anxiety!

     Ok, I'll admit something very revealing about myself (that is if you don't know me. Believe me, this will not be shocking to anyone who does know me).  Let's talk anxiety, shall we?  The dictionary (New Webster's little shelf edition I owe) says "intense dread; apprehension".  That's true.  After all, as I write this I can feel that intense dread and apprehension washing over me. When I typed it into Google I received over 50,000 websites associated or dealing with the term, 'anxiety'.  That's enough to make someone anxious, I would think.  So here I am getting ready to start the actual first class of my college experience on the 29th of this month, a mere eight days from right now.  I thought I had figured out ways to cope with my anxieties around starting a new experience, going to school, assignments, quizzes, final exams, papers, etc.  I know where the anxiety comes from, though, is that even helpful?  Sometimes I wonder. 

    My anxiety comes directly from the fear of failure.  The intense dread and apprehension I feel embarking on a new project, not done before.  So, I attended college back about 22 years ago, I shouldn't feel it's new, because in a lot of ways, it really isn't.  I love school, education, learning, so that should be calm for me.  I love writing and doing assignments, so that shouldn't play a part in my anxieties.  However, here I am, and there they are.  Creeping up around me like those thorny brambles from Sleeping Beauty. 

     I try to alleviate my anxiety by learning.  So I prepared myself.  Read the material, websites required, look over all the resources in the classroom and at the school.  Read, read, and read some more.  Guess what?  That's what creates a lot of my anxiety.  Funny, huh?  Being anxious is a fact of my life, it seems, whether I want it or not. 

    My most recent trip into the anxiety crazed mind I walk around with: PLAs.  Prior Learning Assessments they are officially called.  That's (if you don't know) when a student can try to receive credit for  their work experiences.  Great idea.  I love receiving credit for what I have accomplished, so I'm in.  I found out all about it. Read, read, and read some more.  Then I contacted my advisor, remember her? CN.  She liked my paragraph about my work experience and suggested that I use it for my documentation.  Great!  I loved it.  I was moving ahead.  Then I read some more and found out that I have to take another course just to do my PLA essay.  Ok, I get credits for it, and at the end I will have a finished completely polished PLA (I hope), so I thought 'that works'.  Then the anxiety went into full swing.  I mean, I didn't even start my first course and this whole PLA thing is long and a lot of documentation is required to be considered for it.  Not to mention that it costs extra money to submit each essay (and those are 10-15 pages in length and then add in all the supporting documents).  When that is complete then the student may or may not receive the credits from their work experience.  That's it.  I was worried.  What if I didn't qualify?  What if all that hard work I first accomplished by doing the jobs, then by doing the PLA didn't get me any credits?  Was I failure?  I would think I was.  So I needed an answer.  Only trouble was -- there isn't one.  No answer, no judgement call until the PLA is submitted and evaluated.  That could take months.  After all I can't even submit it until after I've taken two courses.  Oh no, more anxiety.  Something to continually worry about.  Perfect.  Exactly what I hate about myself.  Worrying.  Yet I do it, and often. 

     I know I'm the type of girl (yea, I figured it out) that needs an answer to a question before the question is asked.  Hence, all my need for learning - exactly why I am here doing college again. So I get that about myself.  I also realize it's all very unrealistic to think that way.  After all, you can't get an answer to a question without the question being posed - or can you?

    As I stated, I always liked school.  I love the environment, the classrooms, the chalkboards.  I even like going into schools.  Somehow being there makes me feel good.  So I'm a school geek that way, but back to answering a question before it is posed.  In school I learned that you read the book, answer the questions (if there are any) at the end of the chapter and prepare to answer the questions before they are asked by the teacher.  Right?  Well, there's my problem.  That's what school is to a certain extent.  Teachers pose questions that students are expected to answer and hopefully be correct about.  There are exceptions, of course.  Some questions posed are for discussions or opinions.  Those questions cannot ever be answered before they are asked, can they?  So that's an exception and actually I do understand those.  No anxiety much around philosophical or opinion based questions.  However most school rooms do have the idea that the answer to a question posed by a teacher about the subject should be answered correctly.  That is how we know as students we understand the material and know it, and how the teacher knows we read it and hopefully understood it.  Or at least that's what I always believed while I was in school.  Unfortunately, I took on that philosophy in life.  Ask a question, know the answer.  What a terrible mistake on my behalf? 

    First of all, I don't always do that.  Sometimes I actually ask questions for the answers.  It's true.  You know my need to learn and all supercedes that philosophy sometimes.  But when it comes to classrooms I truly want to know the answer before the question is raised.  I guess some would say that's proactive thinking and if you're prepared, it should be fine.  But I say as proactive and useful as it might be in the classroom, it needs to not leave the classroom much.  Trying to know the answers to questions I could never have predicted would come my way has gotten me into intense situations that have led to very difficult conversations. Me, trying to scramble to come up with an answer when I don't have one, and feeling the anxiety surround me as I do this.  It is said that if you don't know the answer, say so.  Ok, I've seen people do that and I have some serious respect for them.  It all seems so easy when they say it.  No sweat.  But if I don't know the answer my problem is 'should I have?'  In other words, is it a test of some kind?  I know, I know, it's horrible thinking.  I need to change it.  Hopefully, all this reading and those 50,000 sites on anxiety will help me change it.

   So here's my final thought:

     Starting today (and I will do the best I can) if I cannot answer a question, I will not.  I will find out the answer, but relieve the anxiety and say simply 'I don't know the answer to that.'  I will try to understand that I do not need to have an answer to every question posed to me.  Nor will I feel like a failure if I do not know the answer.  I will treat it as a learning experience and nothing more.  As humans we can not know everything and that is the reason why we learn: to grow, to expand our knowledge.  The reason why we ask questions is the same.  There is nothing wrong with this and there is nothing to be afraid of.

Until next time... from the school girl who is still learning

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hi! I am already confused...

So here I go on my online learning experience.  I'm ready armed with emails from my advisor, CN, and ready for whatever I need to learn.  The first email comes in.  It's easy enough a list of all the things I have to do before I start the course.  So off I go ready and able to surf the online classroom and post what I need to, etc., etc., as the King of Siam would say...

And then before I know it, I am confused.  There is an assignment that is clearly posted in the demonstration student portal classroom (by the way portal is what they call - I thought that was cool and the site is called Constellation - even cooler!)  and all these students are talking.  Saying 'Hi', 'Hello', 'I'm so-and-so', 'Hi', and on and on it goes.  I mean, on and on.  Over 300 posts or more.  So I thought it all started, I'll get involved.  Unfortunately none of them are doing the assignment -- Introduce yourself.  Not hard, mind you, but there is no adherence to the clearly defined rules of the assignment listed at the top of the page!  Now, I'm confused and slightly worried.  Could they all be wrong?  Are they using the discussion threads for chatting?  Confusing, right? 

So I did what any good student would.  I downloaded all my material, including the book.  Read Chapters 1 and 2 about how to learn and what learning is.  Didn't know there could be so much written word about learning.  Believe me, there is (and there are still chapters 3, 4, and 5 to read).  It wasn't uninteresting I can say, but as it got deeper into 'how we learn', 'what activities we do to learn', and such, I realized there really was a lot to this learning thing.  And I started thinking about that first assignment - Introduce myself.  Well, I did and I answered the four questions posed on the assignment (there were about 10 to choose from) and I posted.  Excited I was embarking on a new journey with others like me ready to learn.  Still the thread continued.  'Hi', 'Hi so-and-so', 'Hello. New student', etc.  Confusion hit me like a ten ton truck (well maybe not that hard, but certainly enough to take the wind out of my sail).  I mean, I want to start, get going and post and respond to others as is required for the first assignment, and here they are talking on a chat room.

After going back to the materials and reading and re-reading, I realized I needed help.  I did post that introduction, by the way, and my subsequent first assignment (How I learn), and then I emailed CN.  Unfortunately, she told me that was a demo student portal and I shouldn't post on there.  Ok, that made more sense.  But I worried...I had already posted.  OMG!  Now what?

Luckily, it was fine and CN said since I saved it just re post on the classroom portal when I receive my password next Friday.  I thought next Friday ---  I read all the assignments.  I have a list of all the papers due.  Ok, maybe this will work.  Just keep my work and post as needed.  No problem.  Right?

Actually, absolutely right.  Well, I survived first day (that wasn't really a first day).  Hopefully, I will learn how I learn and remember not to jump into things too quickly.  Though, in my own defense, CN said she was completely impressed with my enthusiasm so I've got that going for me...and yea, and she also gave me three more documents on how to navigate through the student portal and constellation (love those names!).  So I have more reading material...YEA!

When I get to the actual class, I think I'll be exhausted (and that is twelve days away!)  Good grief!

Bye for to read some more.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Day - I'm in!

       I decided to start this blog as a way to put all my thoughts down about going back to college after being out of school for 22 years.  Today I took a chance and decided to inquire about online universities.  It wasn't my first time.  I have done it probably a hundred times since I started using the internet many years ago.  I didn't know if I really wanted to go back to school and get my degree for the right reasons.  So all those times I just 'x' -ed out of the sites and went on with life, hoping I would get back to school someday.

     Well today is that day, it would seem.  I just received a phone call about my application and admission being approved for a university's online Bachelor of Arts in Social Science w/ Education Concentration.  If you haven't guessed, I thought I would be a teacher.  Funny enough, I have always been a teacher in my life.  Now, maybe if this all goes well, I can be a certified, official teacher with a real degree behind me.  The woman I spoke with, CN, as I'll call her, was helpful, nice and very happy that I would be returning to school.  She even said that I am her favorite type of student because I wanted to achieve a goal not just a job.  And I guess that's all very true.  I never could understand why it upset me so much that others had a college education and I had one semester of college back in 1988.  Such a long time ago, it seems now.  Back then, we didn't even have computers in our classrooms, much less the idea that someday there would be online courses and degrees.  Anyway, I was never jealous of others' things they had.  I never wanted more than my husband and our daughter (18 going on 19 this year!), theater, acting, writing and being with my family and friends.  But as the years rolled along with jobs and responsibilities, I started to lose out I guess in ways I didn't comprehend back then in '88.  It wasn't just losing out on job opportunities, becoming alot of 'temp' managers and such because I didn't have the degree, no, it seemed like it was so much more than that as I got older.

     Last year, we sent our daughter off to college in New York City.  She was studying acting, dancing and singing.  She is a beautiful singer and actress, however she dropped out after one semester and again, I got thinking.  I did all this work with her through school, helping with assignments, working on papers and work with others, too, throughout the years, and finally, I think I'm ready to face my fears that I won't be good enough. Or that everyone around me, who supports my intellect and asks me questions about everything from social security, fixed income living to paying online bills to social groups, writing, and such, is just being nice when they say 'you're smart', 'this will be easy for you'.  Maybe, all that experience I received from years of the working world will help.  I have dedication, determination and ambitious.  That's for sure.  I started a community-based theater group at 18 years old.  We perform shows and events all over my homestate and region.  I developed and organized (with help from my family and friends) a street fair for two years in my hometown, wrote for local newspapers as a columnist and reporter, and even did a sales job at a retail store in the mall (and became 'temp' manager for a while).  I did write and published five books, and wrote and performed over 100 theater productions.  Maybe, going back to school, would be possible.

     So here I am.  Classes start on Sept 28th and I'm still terrified that I won't live up to others' expectations.  As to my own, I hope college will help me live up to those, too.  Maybe, it can even help me with some self-esteem issues.  Do I think college will help me live my life better?  I don't know, but what I do know is, I am excited and looking forward to the new experience.  I'm even excited to do homework!  Now, you really know I'm 40...til next time.