The band plays; the crowd cheers as the stalwart strain toward the goal. In this marathon, we have had to jump hurdles and scale walls at every milepost.
No, I’m not talking about the New York, Boston, or even the Cowtown Marathon. Distance-Learning training is a rigorous, six-week session on building and teaching classes online. The firing gun blasted us into action on September 4, 2012. Since then, we’ve met and risen above every challenge thrown at us: learning the Blackboard platform, constructing navigable course menus, story boards, and composing multimedia lessons, quizzes, test pools, and surveys. Most importantly, we’ve coped with logistics, that tricky element that ensures that our pages and links open into content.
At the end of the training, November 30, we knew one last leg of the race – Final Review, including a peer review of our course, yawned ahead. By March 7, we would have to build the rest of our lessons and along with the other bells and whistles. Over Spring Break, we worked feverishly, finalizing our courses.
On the first day back, March 18, my peer’s report was no surprise: the actual coursework met or exceeded expectations, but the technical side –broken links and pages, unconventional punctuation or headings on lessons, and a missing grade book – needed more tweaking.
Late Sunday night, March 31, I prayed, crossed fingers, toes, and eyes and hit “Submit”. The next morning, great news! Topping my email messages was the one from the Director: “Congratulations, Kim. You have successfully completed the Distance Learning course.”
As if this course alone hasn’t been demanding enough, I have also been blessed with four-class loads both in the fall and spring semesters. But, in teaching my on-site classes, I learned the key to survival: simplify, simplify, simplify! Let the daily quizzes slide. Repeat, for homework. Provide challenges that allow for easier grading. And require all assignments, especially essays, to be posted online. Period.
Now, with colleagues and students cheering me on, I will one last burst of energy into tired legs and blistered toes to lunge triumphantly across the Finish Line.