By Kate Tasker
As an online student in SJSU’s School of Library and Information Science, I have the opportunity to learn from people across the country and around the world. Though my instructors and classmates may live in different time zones or on different continents, we exchange ideas and perspectives via live web-conferencing, recorded audio lectures, screencasts, email, discussion forums, instant messaging, and social networks. Using these communication technologies in the learning environment is fun, and it’s also part of my training as a real-world information professional.
Studying in an online program means that it’s easy to fit graduate school into my work and social life. If I can’t make it to a live virtual lecture, I can listen to the recording when I have time. I can download readings and upload assignments from anywhere, even while traveling. I have the flexibility to decide how many courses to take each semester and how to schedule my time.
This flexibility provides plenty of options for online students, but it does mean that we have to be self-motivated learners with good time-management skills! I schedule my study time and set reminders in a web-based calendar to keep track of my assignment deadlines.
I also rely on other students in the learning community to help me stay focused. Joining student clubs for virtual meet-ups in Second Life or Blackboard Collaborate, connecting with local colleagues at library tours and professional development events, and volunteering in a library or information center are great ways to develop a support network and to make friends in the program.
Here’s a look at my typical day as an online student at SJSU SLIS:
6:15 a.m.: Time to get up and get ready for work. (I should have put down that novel and gone to bed earlier last night…)
6:45 a.m.: Breakfast at my laptop while I check email, log in to our online course management system Desire2Learn (D2L), and skim discussion forum posts from my Information Literacy classmates. Someone has shared a link to a blog on new methods of library instruction; I add it to my Bookmarks so I can check it out later.
7:30 a.m.: Off to my job as a part-time Archives Technician. Today I’ll be helping a new patron learn to search our collections and find information about her family’s history.
1 – 1:30 p.m.: Lunch time! I hang out with my colleagues and check email during my break. My team members from Collection Management class want to schedule an online meeting on Skype. I reply with possible dates and times and start thinking about the PowerPoint slides for our virtual presentation.
5:30 p.m.: I get home and chat with a friend on Facebook. We swap reading recommendations for new fiction and talk about the classes we’re planning to take next semester.
6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.: Time to log in to Blackboard Collaborate for a live web conference with my Info Lit instructor and classmates. We’re discussing active learning techniques and different ways to engage library patrons. This will really help me with my virtual instruction assignment!
7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.: Relax and catch up with my roommate over dinner.
8:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.: Download a couple of assigned readings from SJSU’s King Library databases and add my thoughts to this week’s discussion forum.
10:30 p.m.: Wind down with my latest library book (When She Woke, by Hilary Jordan). Aim to hit the lights by 11:30…
Even though my schedule can get pretty hectic, I try to make the most of my time in the Master of Library and Information Science program. I love learning to use different technologies, meeting new people in the virtual world and in the real world, and talking about the future of libraries and learning.