The past four weeks have been exhilarating and exhausting. I have learned a lot about learning and collaborating online, and I’ve learned some things about myself, too. At the beginning of this semester, I was curious about what the 4-week online portion would be like, but I was apprehensive and still clinging to my desire for a traditional classroom. After week 1 of the online module — with all its trials and tribulations — I felt that apprehension slipping away. As a team, we had literally weathered the storm and developed our first online training session using 100% online collaboration. Granted, the subject of creating a PB&J sandwich wasn’t rocket science, but with our success, I began to think there was really something to eLearning. I started to get so excited about it, I wanted to sing the praises of learning online to anyone who would listen. I was filling up my Diigo account with all sorts of articles for our online project, and we were hanging out via Google+ to talk about how we were going to present our topic. I was drinking the eLearning Kool-Aid.
Weeks 3 and 4 of the online module are a blur. I stopped feeling connected to anyone in class outside my triad because I couldn’t find time to read their blogs. I was spending several hours a night and much more than that on the weekends on school work, but I was still behind on the readings. The instructor feedback chain seemed to dry up a bit, or maybe I was just getting needier because we didn’t have the face-to-face time. Whenever anyone would ask “how’s school going?” my response would be “this semester is kicking my @$$, but I love it.” I was addicted to the eLearning Kool-Aid.
Despite asking the question about whether we could meet as a team in person to work on the project, I am pleased to say that all of our efforts were done online — whether by email, Google Docs, hang outs, or the shared editing tool within Prezi — and I am very happy with how our project turned out. But the day after we posted our project, I emailed my team and said, “I’m done.” I needed a night to unplug. To spend time with my dogs. To get more than 5 hours of sleep. I was crashing. I needed a night without Kool-Aid.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to getting back to class on Tuesday night. I can’t wait to see everyone again and talk about the past 4 weeks and about our projects. The different approaches each team used to present their program are fascinating, and the tools I learned about creating our project helped me understand how learning online can be as engaging and effective as face-to-face. But I also learned that my obsessive compulsive tendencies are magnified in a completely online learning environment. My work-life-school balance is still a work-in-progress. It will help when I can better align work and school, and I started down that path in the last couple of weeks by reconnecting with people who may be able to help me make this career change. What that has shown me is that I am absolutely on the right track with teaching and training with technology, but I need to remember the adage “everything in moderation.” So bring on these next two weeks in class, and bring on the next two semesters of Digital Media and Design Challenges. I will learn how to sip the eLearning Kool-Aid.