As the semester comes to a close, I have found the overall experience of distance learning to be something that has opened my mind to a different type of classroom and student interaction. We may not have been as interactive as I had initially hoped in t erms of collective group work and interaction outside of the class time between Michigan and Berkeley, but I think it took us really the whole semester to get comfortable with the technology and each other. Each of us at the two schools had different way of doing things, perhaps due to the physical and social dimensions of each university. Therefore, it was difficult to successfully merge these two different personalities into aspects that lie outside of the framework of the class.
Personally, I became used to the routine and found myself more participatory towards the end of the semester. It was difficult earlier to participate because I had to sit behind the counter and bring up the news articles when Howard was in Michigan. Aft er a while, everything became second nature ( in terms of getting the class ready), I became more participatory in my role as a student. I liked the news articles and I think it was a good way to discuss relavant issues as they occur. Although, it was n ice to have discussions be unstructured, all too often I think students went off on tangents and we lost out on time on other news articles.
The groups were not as motivated as I have seen in the past. (I miss my old Virtual Communities Group from Spring '94.) Our group did try to meet consistantly and we had great discussions, but our newsgroup participation was not as active. Possibly this is due to the initial problems we had with the newsgroups in terms of their names and student access between the two schools. It got really frustrating and I guess that people just stopped using it. Also, I have found that in the past year, with the em erging popularity of the Web that I have not been participating and reading Usenet newsgroups as I had before. I allocate more time to surf the web and it has taken the place of discussion groups.
The problems, the technical glitches didn't really matter to me as much. I was pretty patient. I think the class provided a good basis for learning about technology by experiencing part of it.
Natalie Zee Distance Learning 4/28/95