This week the Spring school semester began.

I’m taking six online classes.

At first I thought, “This is going to be so easy! My school calendar is synced to my iPhone, I have the iStudiez Pro app, and my school is signed up for access to the Blackboard Mobile app. Wherever I am, I can post to discussion boards or otherwise keep up with my classes!”

Of course, with a tool like Blackboard, the class is only as organized as the teacher who builds the class. A late syllabus will not come any faster via excellent connectivity if the teacher has not uploaded it. So I’m refreshing my app and not a whole lot is happening and I’m wondering if this is a taste of things to come in the next 15 weeks.

My class lineup is interesting. In order to facilitate a faster graduation time I’ve transferred and changed my major to Interdisciplinary Studies. I should be done by August. So there is a required Interdisciplinary Studies class as well as two music classes (yes, I’ve been avoiding the arts like the plague) and other classes I’ll talk about when something fun or interesting comes up.

Tactile Information and Transport

I checked in on the first day of classes and printed everything available. Yes, I could just look at the assignments in Word, but I’m a note-taker. Keeping the notes on the pages is important to me. I keep those notes in tabbed manilla folders. On the folders I write down important dates for easy reference. If other notes need to go in the file, I put them on post-it notes on the inside cover of the folder.

If you are able to track everything on something like EverNote or some Borg app you’re rocking on your Mac, well, then you are cooler/younger/better than I am. I’m fine with that, I have other fabulous qualities. You know, like my ability to drink copious quantities of wine. It’s a skill, people.

Seriously, the other reason I like having it all on paper is for throwing stuff in a bag and huffing my butt to the library for some child-free study time. Sure, I could hope it’s all on my computer, or I could copy and paste it all into Google Docs, but what if I get to the computer and seven hundred things happen that mean I’m down to just my paperwork and myself. I’m going to want those folders. (Basically, I get really nervous if I don’t have something to hold on to. I’m a dinosaur like that.)

A Special Place for Books

You can’t just chuck your books anywhere or you’ll lose them. Of course that’s assuming you’re able to lose textbooks. I am. It’s happened with books so big they had to resize themselves in order to hide so completely. Once, I found a textbook in the kids’ bookshelf in their room. Really? You wanted to learn about Finite Math? Sure you did. Book stealing little monsters trying to outwit me!

Probably not, but you never know. Kids get that knowing look and  you know they’re planning something straight up evil. What? I’m paranoid? Maybe.

My books live in a special place to the right of my desk. I can swirl my office chair to the right, lean over, and swipe the book I need. As you can see, I have a few oversized, paperback books (My Favorite Kind!! *yeahright*) but I hate those books a lot less after I figured out you can pop them into a magazine holder and be done with it.

Books 0 – Me 1

The Plan (As It Stands Right Now)

My plan is to check everything on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’ll concentrate on homework from two classes on each of these days. With the two music classes, I’m going to break those up and marry them to an English class (I’m taking two of those, too). Then, on Fridays I’ll focus on the other two classes.

If there is a change to the syllabus, I can just shift what classes get taken care of on what days.

The Bottom Line

I’ve never had problems with online classes, but the more of them you take in any given semester the more important it is to have a plan. Sure, I could wing it and would probably do alright. I don’t know if the school I’m going to has a curve, but even without one, standards are pretty low.

Don’t get me wrong, students aren’t stupider than they were when I was young and stupid. They have more of a special snowflake (def. 2) issue than students did when I was in school, but they aren’t dumb. That being said, I do think teachers are lazier. Or more burned out. Or high. *shrug*

Are you an adult learner (or not) taking online classes? What are some of your tips and tricks?

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