So, online classroom… You might thinking, huh… “online”, “classroom”?  But if you have not experienced the many, many benefits of both being a student and teaching, in and using an online environment, I would suggest to you that you are missing out on an excellent experience!  I am a current student in an online master’s program and have had a learning and even teaching eye opener.  I found this to be the case for many of the students who are in my cohort and came across Rita’s blog posting, “Student & Teacher in Online Classroom”.   Her post provides a frank and honest view of her experiences learning and teaching in an online environment.  Like most of us and as Rita mentions, “thought that an online program would be lacking in interaction – boy was I wrong.”  I was too!  I was amazed at the constructive, engaging and insightful chats, forums, wiki’s and blogs were within the context of learning.   I have used instant messaging, forums and recently wiki’s for many other uses, mostly with online gaming and it had certainly enhanced that experience.  But, I was even more excited to see how much more it benefited education.

With online learning environments, I believe, we are seeing a change in the traditional “fact to face” learning environment.   As Rita mentions, “I truly feel that I interact with my classmates and instructors more often and on a more complex level than I ever have in a face to face environment.”  I agree, online learning provides a content rich and is very interactive.  However, one of the key elements to creating a successful online interaction is preparation and participation and dare I say, a heightened ability to multi-task.  As Rita discusses in her blog, we had a chance to create and “teach”, for 10 minutes, an online learning session.  As with Rita, I too was a bit on edge about creating and running the session.  Since I went dead last, I thought I had a little bit of an advantage,  being able to see some of the high and low points of presenting online.  However, even with this advantage and as Rita mentions, “I felt overwhelmed by all of the interaction going on.”  This was truly the case.  Trying to keep my conversation going, managing the slides and trying to look at chat, I felt like I was in a whirlwind and need five eyes and two brains.  I did however, truly enjoy and came away from the experience with a greater understanding and appreation of both the environment and the abilities of those useing it for teaching and learning.  I however, have a lot of experience to gain before i will be able to create a highly engaging learning environment but, I think that I am on my way!

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