Many students who decide to return to school may feel some trepidation about this new experience. For those who take American Public University System’s COLL100 course, or a similar introductory course at another online school, the initial online experience can be less scary.
Welcome to the COLL100 Neighborhood!
In a lot of ways COLL100 is like an online block party. The online classroom is like the neighborhood and the students are like new homeowners, moving into a new area. COLL100 provides a foundational base for undergraduate students to build upon throughout the rest of their academic careers. Not only can students learn a bit about their new “neighborhood” (the classroom, library, and other APUS services), they can also meet some of their new “neighbors.” Like at our homes when we need to borrow an egg to finish dinner, it is a good idea to make friends with our neighbors.
Online learning interaction at-a-glance
There is a misconception that online learning does not allow for the type of interaction and dialogue that is the cornerstone of the Socratic Method. Perhaps this goes hand-in-hand with the misconception that online interactions in general are not as valuable as face-to-face ones. The internet has expanded our world to previously unimaginable scopes, however, and we are now in fact able to interact with one another more frequently and with more information at hand than when we are limited to only face-to-face interactions.
What is COLL100?
The COLL100 course is set up in a way that encourages students to engage with one another, get to know one another’s interests and goals, and make connections that can last through the student’s academic career and perhaps even beyond! Students embark on COLL100 as a group of strangers with a common goal to further their education. Over the course of the semester, students can identify at least a couple of others who have similar academic or career goals. I would encourage all students to identify these individuals and invite them to be your “study buddies.”
Don’t worry — that’s not “weird.” At APUS, students are part of a unique and special community of learners. Online students are here for the common purpose of learning and, as adult online learners, we struggle with many of the same challenges. Just because we don’t physically see one another does not mean that we can’t maintain a valuable connection and benefit from one another’s experiences and insights. APUS students have a wealth of valuable resources available to them. From the online library to this Online Learning Tips blog, and from various honor societies to Tutor.com services, APUS has done a wonderful job providing services to promote student success. One of the most valuable resources a student at APUS can utilize, however, is his or her classmates.
If you’re currently in COLL100, I strongly encourage you to find one or two classmates with whom you have something in common. Reach out to them and ask them to be your study buddies. If you are past the initial COLL100 experience, find someone in one of your current classes and form a bond. The insights and perspectives you gain from that person, even if only in a virtual setting, though, can be invaluable to your success as an online student.
By Elizabeth Gray
Adjunct Faculty Member at American Public University System
Elizabeth was a “traditional” student (she attended a very small all-girls’ school in southern Virginia with only 750 students for her undergrad years) and has also been an adult online learner with APU. She recently started teaching COLL100 at APUS and strongly feels that there is an extremely high level of engagement that APUS students experience in the online setting.