I'm not sure that distance learning has become any easier for me over the semester, or that my initial perceptions of it have varied all that much. The class seems to have settled into a complacent sort of mood, which makes the difficulties that much harder for us all to overcome. I'm not sure if we are accepting the difficulties and trying to work them into the class structure, or if we are just too lazy to confront them. Mostly I feel I am too lazy to confront them.
For one thing, it seems to have require an even greater desire to speak than it used to. The topics in class are more sound bite topics than anything to me, and it seems a hassle to try and gather intelligent thoughts on the topic at hand, raise your hand to signal the camera operator that you wish to speak, *wait*, gaze at your own self in the monitor (because Shannon noticed, correctly, that much more of a connection is made when we look into the camera rather than away from it) and tell the class your opinion on the matter, when it is a sure thing that we will be rolling right along in five or six minutes. Why bother? Are we acting for the good of distance learning? BUT I *like* the newspaper articles, though. They are my favorite part of the reading for class ... um, when they are put up in time (that was a big problem). I wish there was a way to gather newspaper articles on specific topics and discuss them all together; maybe week by week have set topics. It would take away the timeliness aspect, but since we never get very deeply into anything anyway ...
The other matter was the technological aspects of not having Net access in the classroom. I wish I knew more about the behind-the-scenes set-up of the classroom connection, but it seems ridiculous that we were stuck with overheads of the articles on a projector. It was fruitless to try to read anything from the monitor ... and often the articles presented in class had *not* been available on the newspaper page. So we were often speaking of the topics off the top of our heads, anyway.
I felt as though I could never interrupt anyone. (Not that it is a regular wish of mine, but in smaller classes it is nice to be able to do so.) In a seminar class the conversation should be rollicking along, but it was so difficult to feel excited or lively about anything. We often tended to tune out the discussion, even, and talk amongst ourselves (often about the topics at hand). It *was* like watching television, and reading the newspaper at the same time.
Something that was very disappointing and sad to me, too, was that I feel
no connection to any of my classmates in Berkeley ... and that may be my
own fault too, for not trying to forge the connections. I didn't really
agree with much they had to say (little librarian perspective -- you know
that is the right perspective too
:-)) and felt they didn't
really try to understand much -- it is a sound bite class, and in a sound
bite class you don't have to -- you only have to form a quick opinion on
a matter you know little about.