BE101 - Ready, Steady, Go!

Monday, August 29, 2016

False Start - Kind of...

Officially, online classes begin tomorrow, not today.  But, DTS has posted the course module content to Canvas this past weekend so students can begin reviewing the material a few days ahead of time. We've been asked to wait to begin recording and submitting our work, but at least we can get a jump on the coming weeks.  So basically, it's "Ready, Steady, Go!" for BE101.

In addition to sharing some initial observations about the BE101 online course and my plans for the coming weeks, I'll also share my thoughts on the first live stream orientation for new online students which was held this past weekend.

Weekend Orientation Recap

On Saturday evening, I attended a live stream orientation for online students by members of the DTS faculty and staff.  This is the first year that DTS offered a live orientation session.  While only an hour long, I found the session very helpful.

First, it's nice to know that even though I won't have much if any face to face contact with DTS staff, I'll be working with real people.  Genuine people.  Approachable people.  Seeing how they addressed the online community was very encouraging.

Second, it was nice to have an opportunity to live chat with some of my fellow students during the session.  I was surprised by the geographic diversity of the online student body.  I know, the 'well duh!' thought was not lost on me.  But I was particularly interested to see peers dialing in from locations that aren't exactly Christian friendly.  Please join me in praying for them.  Thinking about them for a moment raises the bar for my own commitment to this program.

Finally, we had an opportunity to ask questions of the staff in the text chat which were answered live by the panel.  Some very interesting questions were asked and answered that definitely helped in my understanding of the program as a whole.

Overall, the session was well orchestrated, interactive, and to the point.  Certainly a success from my standpoint.

BE101 Canvas Course Weekend Preview

While we can't officially begin our classes and submit work until tomorrow, DTS has posted the course modules in Canvas over the weekend to allow us to begin getting ready and to familiarize ourselves with the system.  Right now, I can access two module sections for BE101; the Welcome module and the 1: Introduction to Observation module which covers the time period from 08/30 - 09/13.  Subsequent modules are locked but show the dates when they will become available.

What is really nice about this setup is that I can see all the material that is going to be covered during the semester, even though most of the modules are locked at the moment.  All of the video lectures, interactive discussions, reading assignments, and learning activities are listed along with the points for completion.  For BE101, all the activities are assigned 100 points which will make it easy to track my progress.

Another really nice feature in the Canvas tool is that I can see all of my 'to do' items in the right-hand navigation with the due dates.  This is obviously going to be pretty straightforward since I'm just taking one class this semester, but in the future, this is really going to come in handy when I'm juggling multiple classes.

Planning the Coming Weeks

For the Welcome module, I'll be reviewing some basic guides and reference material followed by completing two reading assignments and one interaction assignment.  I'll try to complete all the Welcome module items tomorrow so I can use Thursday to work ahead into module 1.  I am already preparing the interaction assignment and should have no problem wrapping it up by Tuesday evening.

Module 1 contains two reading assignments, one video lecture assignment, and one learning activity.   I think the gameplan here is going to be to complete the reading assignments on Wednesday evening and then view the video lectures on Thursday.  The lecture notes are downloadable from the module area which should make viewing the video lectures more enjoyable.

Once I finish the assigned reading and watch the required lecture videos, I'll be able to begin working on my first assignment.  I'll probably start formulating notes on Friday and dabble with it over the weekend.  My personal goal is going to be ready to submit the assignment no later than next Tuesday.  That might afford me some time to chat with the Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) in case I need to fix anything.

After completing all the work for these introductory modules, I can think about at least starting the reading assignment for module 2.  I'll get a better feel for the best way to approach the readings after seeing what the reporting requirements are in the coming days.

Isn't That Interesting?

I just noticed that the future modules all unlock at 6:59 AM for me.  So is there an advantage to being seven hours ahead?  Well, yes and no.  While the class is unlocked at the same time for all students, I'll be able to view unlocked modules as I start my day as opposed to local students who would be viewing this material at their midnight.  However, I'll likely have to complete my assignments a little sooner unless I want work through the night which is highly unlikely.  I guess it balances out.  

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