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Online Education – Is there Someone I Can Talk To?

Are you thinking about getting a micro-certification, nano-degree, digital badge, or just chew through something new academically?  So am I, yet as easy it is to sign up for the free courses online, I bail on them within weeks due to boredom and lack of direction.  I cannot be the only one affected by the oddity of jumping courses in this new educational realm.

When I was in college, there was something exciting about looking through the course catalog.  Opening the paper book, looking at the course numbers, reading the descriptions, and checking the pre-requisites to be sure you will be able to get in created a sense of awe and excitement of starting something new.  It was made even more exciting/nerve-wracking when your scheduled class registration time was live and you quickly punch in the class code to request a slot, waiting with nervous anticipation to hear if you are in or wait-listed (this was during an era where you would phone into an automated system to register for a course).   You could just randomly pick courses and spend a lifetime as a professional student if you wanted, and had the fiduciary means to do so, but most people went to their faculty adviser to discuss a path to degree completion.  This is what I feel is missing with MOOCs and other online edu options.

Another aspect that is lacking are the class and faculty engagements.  First day of classes back in college were always fun as you scan the room to find someone familiar in an effort to create a study group.  You would also jot down the office hours of the faculty member and plan your schedule around that availability.  Though some of this can be replicated online (Google Groups, Hangout, etc.), it is just not the same.  The necessary social attachment to the course is missing.

It would seem that in order to work on another degree, I would need to go to a physical institution to gather the personal feedback I desperately want however I would love to travel down the digital path as it is more convenient with my schedule.  There are local hybrid models such as University of Texas, St. Edwards and even Austin Community College but they require so much up front class loading and honestly more money than I am willing to provide at this point.  The beauty of online models like EdX or Udacity is the speed of getting started.

I feel like that lifer you meet in college that has overstayed his welcome and has taken enough courses to get minors in just about everything yet has accomplished very little to move on.  I thought I could be disciplined enough to do this without anyone’s help, now I realize I am wrong.  Is there anyone I can talk to?

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