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Learning and Teaching the the Internet Age

The end of holiday celebrations and the onset of the New Year signals the resumption of the serious business of teaching and learning at the university.  In Chicago we have been savoring the atypical weather, with only occasional flurries and unseasonable high temperatures, but know that it is time  to move indoors to pursue the quieter intellectual activities of a Midwestern winter.  With the flip of the calendar page, the new academic term approaches.  Filled with hope, curiosity and the promise of new knowledge and insights, school will reconvene in mid-January.

Rather than fill the interim pursuing a part time jobs or total relaxation, several of our motivated students have opted for a two-week intense J-term class.  This is the second year Loyola has offered this option and the second time I have taught a J-term course online.  I am delighted to find that the students appear to be comfortable and successful with technology that is new to most of them.  After six days of class (which included Saturday), they are working hard and are demonstrating their newly acquired knowledge on homework assignments, class discussions and tests.  They are enthusiastic and involved during our 2-hour daily gatherings in our virtual classroom.  Happily, their dedication and hard work are taking them at least one course closer to graduation.

The online initiative is not new to Loyola.  Several of our schools have online graduate degree programs.  The Quinlan School will continue to add undergraduate and graduate courses and our goal is to continuously improve teaching and learning effectiveness and to meet students’ needs.  In addition, the Intercontinental MBA program is an unique combination of online and on-the-ground learning that takes place on four continents.  To combine the resources of the Internet with the opportunities for learning that are found by living in an emerging market context is an opportunity that technology makes possible.

We are fortunate that the Adobe Connect software is flexible and fairly intuitive.  This is the fourth online course that I have taught.  Each time I become more comfortable with the process and sometimes forgot that this is a new for my young students.  My hope is that they will comment on the experience so that others will know both the advantages and the pitfalls.  From my perspective as a teacher, I have found that the ability to teach online has altered my class meeting time and hopefully created a venue for more, rather than less, student discussion and engagement.

Mary Ann

  • By Kyle Flynn on 1.8.2013 at 8:41 pm

    I agree! Though rigorous, the online J-Term class is worth it. Connect and it’s software can be confusing… and trying to figure it out quickly due to the nature of a 10/11 day course can be a pain. However, once you get the hang of Connect, the class can be a breeze as long as you have a certain level of dedication towards your end goal. If you want to get 3 credits out of the way in 11 days (as opposed to, I wanna say, 16 weeks), then DEFINITELY take a J-Term class.

  • By Derek Guimond on 1.9.2013 at 12:18 am

    Participating in a rigorous online class, shortly after the onset of the New Year, has proven to be a bane on socializing with friends from back home. However, it is entirely worth it considering the course credit, and the fact that we are preparing ourselves mentally for the spring semester. Dr. McGrath is setting up a comfortable learning environment for her class as well.

  • By Hannah Ramlo on 1.9.2013 at 11:45 am

    “Happily, their dedication and hard work are taking them at least one course closer to graduation.”

    Dr. McGrath says it all with this statement. The course load for J-term is, not surprisingly, more than I expected, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. Though the software could be frustrating the first couple days of class, I now have a hang of it and find that the chat function does allow for quite a bit of class discussion. For those considering taking a J-term, I’d say be prepared for the amount of time required but stay mindful of how much MORE work would be required if the class were filling a whole semester.

  • By Elizabeth Tripp on 1.9.2013 at 1:35 pm

    My experience with taking a J-term class has been more than satisfactory. In the first place, I decided to take this intensive 2-week course so that I can get by with a light work load when I study abroad in fall semester of 2013, thus giving me more time to explore an area and culture that I am unfamiliar with (I’m going to Rome). It is in this way that I had a sort of motivation behind signing up for Fundamentals of Marketing. As with the other comments, I would advise students to not take signing up for a J-term course lightly. If you have a reason behind registering for one that will keep you motivated for the duration of the class, then I say go for it! But there certainly is a lot of reading. I am actually really enjoying the material we learning in the text book- I find it to be very interesting and almost wish I could take the class over a semester so I can have more time digesting all of the concepts and terms. But anyway, taking the class now, over winter break, will be worth it in the long run! I try to keep that in mind when I lock myself in my room scrambling to complete and submit the homework activities on time.

  • By Leah Bowman on 1.9.2013 at 2:08 pm

    Last semester I was a part-time student so to make up for it I took this J-term class to prevent myself from falling behind. I was not prepared for this much work when I still had so much going on at home and with friends. However, it defiantly snapped me out of winter break mode and back into school mode. It was worth taking to get an intro class out of the way so that next semester I can take other classes. Dr. McGrath will helped to make this an enjoyable experience by giving us reasonable assignments, tests, and due dates. It’s a lot of work but well worth it!

  • By Courtney Griffin on 1.9.2013 at 2:44 pm

    I have nothing but great things to say about the Marketing 201 J-Term course. As all college students will tell you, the first half of January (which is the last half of winter break) is often a total waste– the holidays are over, the weather is miserable and the thought of another semester approaching can be exhausting.This online J-Term course has successfully filled this lost time. While still enjoying all the comforts of home, I have plenty of work to keep me busy in January. I have been able to devote my full attention to the topic, and still do not miss out on any interaction with Dr. McGrath and the other students in the class, thanks to the Adobe Connect technology. J-Term is definitely a commitment, but is well worth all of the hard work.

  • By Allie Bannick on 1.9.2013 at 3:00 pm

    I had hesitations in the beginning for taking this course, mainly due to the rigourousness of it in such a short time period, but it has proved to be worth it. It helps me to get credits out of the way that I need in order to graduate on time and gets me to start focusing earlier on with school work, preparing me for the upcoming semester. The course makes you work hard but its definitely a good prep for the future with other classes as well as after graduation in the working field. Its a commitment, but definitely worth it to stay on track and for a new academic experience.

  • By Steven Koblinski on 1.9.2013 at 3:39 pm

    So far I have really enjoyed taking MARK 201 as a J-term class. I really felt like taking this class for a full semester would be too slow paced and dragged out, so I am thoroughly enjoying the fast pace. Even though I am taking this class to get ahead on credits rather than catch up, I have still found it to be worthwhile.

  • By Kristen Jones on 1.9.2013 at 3:42 pm

    My friends told me I was absolutely crazy when I signed up for a J-Term course. Now, I recommend it to all of them and they regret not registering. I am attempting to graduate a semester early so this commitment will be more than worth it in the end. I live in a 2.5 square mile town in New Jersey; let’s be honest, I’m not missing much. This class was a wonderful Segway into the traditional semester from the holidays. I am proud of myself and all those who stuck with MARK201 because it requires self-discipline and hard work. More importantly, I was so happy and relieved when I realized how accommodating and informative Dr. McGrath is. For what it’s worth, here is some advice for those who are considering this course in the future: be prepared to read. . a lot! Do not procrastinate because there is literally no time. Lastly, soak it all in! It goes by way too fast.

  • By Jessica Holtzmann on 1.9.2013 at 4:42 pm

    Marketing 201 is the first course I have taken online and it is quite a different experience. But, as any class, it has its advantages and disadvantages. Thus far, I have thoroughly enjoyed Professor McGrath, and her lectures. The incorporation of graphs in her PowerPoints makes it easier to learn the topic and provides a nice visual that helps with the homework. Oddly enough, I also enjoy the test aspect of the class because I can take the test at my own convenience. During a regular course I am counting down the time until the test and stressing myself out about getting everything done in time but since I have larger time slot to take the test, I can begin it at my own convenience, but once started, I still have the time crunch. The only real disadvantage I have had is the technology portion. Like Dr. McGrath wrote above, this technology is new to most of us and it does come with it’s own setbacks. Sometimes the audio doesn’t work, and other times, a connection could get lost. Yes, this is frustrating at times, but it usually works itself out, either by rebooting the internet or the class itself, and it has never taken more than five minutes. All in all, I am so glad I chose to take this course; I have enjoyed the class and it puts me one step closer to graduation!

  • By Zhuanyi Wang on 1.9.2013 at 6:04 pm

    I enjoyed this class very much. I am an international student, since the winter break is short and the transportation is expensive at this time of the year, I decided not go home this time, instead, I took J-term course here, and it turned out to be great. I learned a lot in this class, the busy work stopped me from homesick, and I will get 3 credits!

  • By Michele Doss on 1.9.2013 at 6:10 pm

    I took a J-Term course last semester and I must say it was extremely tedious and stressful. I felt like I was awake for the entire two weeks straight and I questioned if I wanted to do it again. However, I realized that every teacher is different so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad this time around and man was I right! Dr. McGrath has made a very comfortable, relaxed learning environment that has allowed me to create the perfect balance between work and leisure which is something I could not do last year. This experience has been wonderful and I am so glad I seized this opportunity and took her class.

  • By Taylor Regulski on 1.9.2013 at 8:11 pm

    I completely agree. I have been enjoying this experience very much as Dr. McGrath has stated. One thing that is a bit of a downfall is the connection and difference between PCs and Macs. I’m an Apple user because one of my majors (photography) requires photoshop, which usually is ideal for Mac computers. Yet, I am also a major in sports management which most technology is geared toward PCs. Personally I think Apple needs to make it’s systems compatible and not have updates that will cause issues with camera and microphone connections. Besides my issues with that, the class has been enjoyable and very simple to use. I wish more classes were offered during the year this way because it personally aids me in getting other work done. I am able to do homework and tests at my own pace yet while learning all the material needed to be covered. I can’t rave more about the e-learning than I already have. I do recommend busy students who dread having to actually go to a class room to try the online classes.

  • By Warren Swartwout on 1.10.2013 at 11:20 am

    I have really enjoyed taking an online J-term course. I initially took it to get a quick 3 credits out of the way. The process is extremely fast, and I think overall very worth it. A student is able to move at his or her own pace and even take tests at their convenience. I have had trouble with my internet connection due to where a live, which has proven a bit stressful. During a timed test, having your internet fail is not a joyous feeling to say the least. It is also a very new experience interacting with students online rather than in a class room setting. I think its rather strange I may walk by one of classmates on campus one day and not even realize it. I did appreciate Dr. McGrath Saying hello everyday on her webcam, made the class feel a little more real. All in all, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and I would definitely recommend an online J-term to anyone interested.

  • By John Irace on 1.10.2013 at 11:36 am

    Focusing on one course in a short time period is great. I did not know what to expect from an online course and I am more than happy to say I am glad I took the course. The online classroom is easy to use and a great way to enhance your learning. Dr. McGrath structures the class in a very good way. I would recommend this class to anyone, and it is a great way to get ahead or catch up on credits.

  • By Jim Stephens on 1.11.2013 at 7:55 pm

    I think the benefit to offering J-term classes is that students are given the opprotunity to take extra courses. Since I am a double major it’s difficult to fit all of my required classes in order to graduate in four years. By offering extra opprotunities to take classes, the university has made it easier for me to graduate on time. J-term classes are intense, but do-able. This is the first time I’ve taken an online class. Not knowning the format of the class or how the daily lectures would be run, I was hesitant at first about taking an online class. The marketing class that I have been taking this past week and a half has gone a lot smoother than I thought it would go. The class is set-up in a way where as long as I keep up on my readings and homework it’s a class that is do-able and one in which I’ve learned a lot in.

  • By Joseph Asleson on 1.13.2013 at 7:35 pm

    Having currently just finished up taking a Jterm course, more specifically an online Jterm course I have found that they are a great way to fill the downtime in between spring and fall semester while allowing flexibility in terms of location since the course is online. I find that the sessions run smoothly and have a similar experience to a physical classroom.

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