Semester wrap-up

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My last exam will be for Speech 2010 this Wednesday. Completing this exam will mark the completion of my first semester back at school after a 17 year hiatus.

I took four classes (12 credit hours); Intro to Speech, Human Adventures 1, Intro to Cultural Geography and Intro to Psychology. Given my work history, I felt that I would do OK with web based classes, so I took two web based classes and two that were in traditional classroom settings.

Working a full-time job, a part-time job and trying to take four classes (12 credit hours) left very little time for anything else. I found that I was either at work, at school or doing homework. Occasionally I would get a weekend off where I did not have to work and did not have too much homework to do; those weekends were used to get caught-up on work around the house.

After I was about a month into it, I felt like I was drowning. I had no time for myself and was not getting enough sleep. It did not take me long to figure out that if I was going to succeed I needed to make some changes.

For starters, I gave myself some more time by dropping Karate class. That class was only one night per week, but that one night was the night before my Speech class - a night that I greatly needed to complete the work that I had to do for the Speech class.

Then to get myself organized, I began using Remember the Milk as the tool to make this happen. I created tasks for assignments that I had to do for each class and included their deadlines. I created just over fifty tasks for the ten weeks of class after I started using RTM. I made a smart list for class work that showed me things I should (or could) be working on. Using that smart list as my daily to-do list for school worked very well. I generally stayed on task and was able to get all of my assignments turned in on time.

I found that there were some problems with the web based classes. The biggest problem that I had with the online courses was the lack of interaction. The online system did not lend itself to any real interaction between the instructor and students. Other than that, I think the class went pretty smooth. Being online gave me the flexibility to work it in around my work schedule. Maybe having a set time to "meet" online would have been helpful. Using some type of chat system where we could have a round-table discussion online would have been a great addition to the class.

I'm planning to continue in the Spring semester, but with a lighter load. I am trying to sign up for a couple of classes - one web based, the other a traditional classroom setting.

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