Organizing the Unkown

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Getting Organized

The early temptation in preparing for an online class is to just sit back and manage the tasks when they become available.  Clearly, there is an organizational structure to the class which will naturally encourage students to keep pace, but is this enough?  After all, time can be a fickle friend.  When you really need it, it always seems to turn up missing.  Therefore, it makes sense to get organized.

I honestly feel a little bit like my kids right now.  It’s binders, paper, sheet protectors, and pencils galore.  The only thing I’m really missing is a new set of clothes – although I still have a few more days…

But seriously, there is more to getting organized than just loading up on the supplies.  I’ll need to set up a schedule which includes budgeting for class time, reading, homework, and chapel.  I’m also going to need to factor in that there are a number of additional systems and resources I’m going to need to get familiar with given it’s my first semester.  So today I’ll share my thoughts on how I’m getting organized.

Plan. Execute. Adjust. Repeat.

Regardless of how carefully I set out to plan my approach to this first class, I know that life is bound to happen and that things change.  Therefore, I see my plan more as a framework.  A system that allows me to evaluate what is working, and what is not.

By accepting flexibility to change up front, I won’t get thrown off my game if things don’t go exactly as I planned.  It would be silly to think that I have all the answers before I even get started.  But inevitably, you have to start somewhere, or take a stab so to speak.

Scheduling Time for Class

While I don’t yet know what my video lecture attendance, reading, and assignment deadlines will be, I do know that the class is taught in a number of formats locally.  Some sections meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays for about an hour and fifteen minutes, and others meet once a week for two and a half hours.  That at least gives me a clue as to how I should get set up.

I personally think that it is good to get into a regular routine so I’m inclined to set aside Tuesday and Thursday for viewing my classes.  The danger with picking one day to do everything is what happens when something comes up and I miss my scheduled day?  The temptation to wait until the last minute would just be too great.

So Tuesday and Thursday it is.  I reckon I’ll be able to start around 21:00 (that’s 9:00 PM for you AM/PM folks).  While that seems a little bit late, I typically work until about 18:00 and 21:00 is about the time we get our little monsters tucked away for the day.  It’s been my routine for years so I think that will work just fine.

Reading Time

Another good reason for setting aside dedicated time for viewing my class is that I’ll be able to complete my reading assignments around those days as my time allows.  I won’t get stuck (hopefully) trying to cram everything in all at once.

As I’ve already read my required texts, I know I’m a little ahead of the game to start.  I plan to reread the texts according to the class schedule, but I won’t be seeing the material for the first time.  I expect this will also help me with retention.

Assignment Time

Much like reading time, I should have plenty of time to work learning assignments into my schedule if I can keep my dedicated class viewing times.  I have heard that some of the assignments as the semester wears on get a little time consuming, so I’ll also look to work ahead as much as I can depending on when the assignments become visible to me.

One other nice thing about having taken the time to actually watch the available course previews, I already have a pretty good sense of what the first assignment will be like.  It’s actually kind of cool (yeah, I can’t believe I’m actually saying that…).  But hey, at least I know what to expect.

Chapel Time

As an online student, I need to view and report attendance for ten chapel sessions during the semester.  I expect this will be about an hour per service.  From what I can see, there are some great speakers and topics that are covered each semester in the chapel so if I can afford the time, I’ll definitely try to view more than just the ten required.

That said, like my class time, it’s probably a good idea to set aside some time dedicated to viewing chapel.  I think for symmetry, I’ll plan on doing this at least every Wednesday evening.

Time to Hurry Up and Wait!

Well, that seems like the best I can do with my primary class responsibilities right now.  As a basic framework, I think I’ll be in good shape if I can stick to the spirit of the plan.  I still have a few days before the semester begins, so all I can really do regarding my class is wait.

In the meantime, I’ll begin looking into some of the secondary learning items I’ll need to pick up this semester.  Things like learning how to use Logos software, library resources, the canvas system, and perhaps some reading on the Turabian style of writing which is required at DTS.

Very soon I'll be ready to give you my first impressions of the BE101 as the semester is just about ready to get underway.

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