Monday, June 11, 2007

Online class: student voices

This is the last week of the online class. What I've mostly been doing is grading the things the students have sent me and keeping the discussion going. (I have not made peace with WebCT/Blackboard but have wrestled it to a standstill.) I have only met one of them in person, but I have a sense of their personalities (or think I do) from our frequent online contacts.

It's a lot like a face-to-face class in some ways. Some are cheerful and personable in their interactions ("Hi Professor Lastname" "Have a nice weekend") and some are less so, sending the attached materials but leaving the message blank. A couple are petulant. In the first week, one of them wrote to say, "Hey Undine. You set this up in a confusing way." In my coldest tones, I explained that I was sorry he felt that way (see non-apology apology, the art of) but that everyone else had managed to figure out how the class was organized, especially since the organization was explained in three e-mail messages and the syllabus, which I suggested he review. He had settled down by the next week.

I guess the amazing part to me is that from a collection of names on a roster a few weeks ago, they've become real students to me. I know they were real students before, of course, but I mean students with real voices. You know the way that you can sometimes see a student after a few years and maybe remember a paper that he wrote or a comment that she made yet not remember the student's name? That kind of student voice.

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