Distance Learning Essay #2
by Daniel Gorelick


I am still greatly impressed by the technology; that we are actually able to have a class in two places at once. However, the class is not free of flaw. I have sometimes found it hard to be a part of discussion. One part of that, as we have pointed out, is when the professor (or Howard... hmm... who is the audience for this dang essay anyway... makes writing it confusing... another weird side-effect of a web based class don't you think... I digress...) is at the other location. This problem mostly stems from the fact that Howard can only see us holding up out hands when George has got the camera on us. A possible remedy would be to try and have George call on people; I'm not sure how that would work.
The other reason why I find it difficult to be an active participant in discussion is that sometimes I am not particularly interested in what is being discussed or I do not feel I have anything to contribute. Other times I would like to ask a question (and sometimes I do) but for the most part it seems like it would go against the flow of discussion.

Interestingly enough, this leads to another gripe I have about the class. I feel that there is just too much discussion going on, and not enough learning. I find that learning about whats going on in the news is quite gratifying, but in addition I would like to have less discussion on it and more learning. For example, I would like to learn about the technology: how does it work, how is it possible, where is the technology headed, how much possibly cooler can it be and in how long...? I realize it may be difficult to decide what to teach and how make it relevant to the course; I admit I am having difficultly thinking of anything right now. Furthermore, I realize that one of the main goals of this class is to be an experiment or study on distance learning and whether or not it can succeed, but I definitely feel there something missing.

Lastly I would like to address, not being addressed. I am referring to the day when Howard referred to me as "the guy next to Wendell." First, I feel that I over-reacted. Sorry Howard, I am terrible with names myself and I did not mean to snap at you (no hard feelings). However, I was genuinely upset that after well over a month, Howard still did not know my name. Perhaps it takes longer to learn the Berkeley names because he spends only a third of the time here. Regardless, I was also resentful of the possible consequences of Howard not knowing my name: part of our grade depends on participation in class, and if the professor does not know my name how can he or she know that I am, in fact, participating? I believe that this is an interesting question that this class will have to answer about grades will be determined in a future of distance learning.


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