posted September 26, 2012 2:25 PM by Julie Steenson
I am having a great new experience this semester, by taking classes on both campuses. As you have all heard me whine just a bit about my lengthy commutes, it is no surprise that a recently minted GSLIS student on the Boston campus asked me, “It’s so far for you…have you tried out the online classes?” The answer is yes, I have now tried online, face-to-face, and blended, and they all have their advantages, but face-to-face is increasingly becoming my favorite.
What you get online:
- Interaction and learning opportunities with faculty who are otherwise too far for you…this could just mean a different campus, but it could also mean a different state or university altogether.
- Access to classes not offered by Simmons but accepted as part of our Simmons GSLIS degree.
- Interaction with students you might not otherwise meet.
- The freedom or burden of managing your own time and schedule – I do think this is both a pro and a con.
- No commute.
What you don’t get online:
- Morning text messages from your peers asking you to meet up for coffee before class.
- Extensive peer interaction outside of class – this could be in the library, working on an assignment or just meeting for lunch afterwards. I consider this to be one of my favorite learning environments.
- The face-to-face connection with faculty.
In a nutshell, Online means freedom from the constraints of geography. When they offer a unique learning opportunity, online classes are a great addition to your degree program.
All that said, the “what you don’t get” list is why I am choosing the long commute.
I will certainly take advantage of more online classes when the scales are tipped in their favor, but I am finding on both Boston and West campuses that I learn so much from my peers, young and old, and the opportunities to engage in discussion about the library world or just our lives, in general, is a support network that I don’t want to be without. (Elise and I had like minds this week!) These are our future colleagues in the library and information science world. These are the people with whom we will work, with whom we will consult….about whom we will read in trade publications or reconnect with at conferences. Our peers don’t give us grades and we don’t get credit for talking to them, but without them, our degree is in a vacuum. We’ll know what a librarian can do but not who a librarian is.
Spending time with our peers in a real world environment is the best experience we can give ourselves as we fine tune our interests in the LIS world and design our plans to become the librarians we want to be. Time for coffee?