My name is Lisa Holmes and I am in the second quarter of my Master’s program in Career and Technical Education at CSUSB. I recently graduated with my BA in CTE from CSUSB and wanted to continue my studies in the same field. I have worked in the California Community College system for over 15 years, the majority of which were at Palo Verde College in Blythe, California. I have held both clerical and management positions for the Office of Instruction but was also fortunate enough to teach computer applications courses for a few semesters. In April of this year I was hired at Irvine Valley College in south Orange County as the Scheduling Analyst. With the support of my awesome family (my husband of 18 years, my 17 year old son and my 14 year old daughter) I quit my position at PVC and we left our life in Blythe to move to the big city…Anaheim to be exact.
I’m taking this class as an elective for my program but I chose it specifically for a few different reasons. I love computers and am very comfortable with them but I would really like to become more familiar with the different technology that supplements online instruction and communication in general. Because I am so busy with life I haven’t had the opportunity to really sit down and use some of the technology that is out there…like Skype. I just recently signed up for Twitter and Instagram but only because my daughter implied that I was old; I wasn’t keeping up with the trends. 🙂 I also know that I can use what I learn from this class to assist the faculty here at IVC to make their online classes more student friendly. When online classes first came into play in the community college system there was some push-back from the university systems, especially for transfer level courses. The concern was that the content would be less rigorous in an online setting therefore, not to their standards. With time, that concern has lessened quite a bit and so the community colleges are forging ahead and some need assistance because it is fairly new territory to many instructors.
I personally am a big believer in online instruction having been in several online classes myself. Living in Blythe, two hours from civilization, my only options to get my Bachelor’s degree were to drive to Palm Desert or take courses online. I actually did a little of both. The only way I was able to obtain my degree was because online courses were available. Driving two hours each way twice a week, working full-time and having a family was both tiring and expensive.
My online classes were taught through Blackboard by some of my professors and others had created simple websites where they stored the course materials. Blackboard is by far the better way to go for me as a student because it is much more organized. The classes that I took that used a regular website were often confusing; there were links everywhere and if it wasn’t for the fact that the links I visited turned purple afterwards, I wouldn’t have known where I’d been already and where I needed to go. I ended up clicking each link and printing everything so I could organize it myself in a binder. It was a real pain but it worked for me. In addition to my experience with online courses as a student, I have also done some training through Sakai on how to set up a course in their system. It was a good experience but I wasn’t a really big fan of what they offered.
As for interacting with fellow students and instructors, I tend to prefer email because it is the most convenient. My email comes straight to my phone so I don’t have to log on to check messages and respond; I can take care of things when I have a few free minutes no matter where I am at the time. I do like face-to-face interactions as well because it helps to build a network of people who are in similar situations; these types of relationships, I believe, are a bit stronger because they are more personal. I am looking forward to trying other options but a little nervous at the same time. I am lucky however, that I have a teenage daughter who is a professional of all things social media/technology. 🙂