Sunday, October 3, 2010

Looking for Mr. Goodstudent

For the past couple of years I've been a part-time instructor for an online university.  I usually teach two classes at a time, staggered - one group of students will be in Week 4, for instance, while the other is in Week 8.  Today I'm pretty excited because I have a new session starting tomorrow.

Teaching online in an entirely asynchronous environment can be very odd.  At the start of each session I only know the students' names and what they choose to reveal about themselves in their biography posts.  I learn more about them throughout the course, but I never see their faces.  This leaves me free to fantasize.

I don't mean that in a creepy, stalker-like way.  I just occasionally have fun envisioning faces and backstories.  Some of the students who hand in the bare minimum for each assignment and don't engage in the class discussions come across as faceless automatons, while others have such distinct personalities (for good or ill) that I can't help seeing them as Mr. Incredible or Dr. Doom.  Among the non-traditional students I've met so far have been a woman with 10 children and two jobs (The Mighty Multi-tasker), an explosives expert stationed in Iraq (Da Bomb), and a Hawaiian girl who works with and wrote an awesome paper on dolphin conservation (Eco-Warrior).  Occasionally I also encounter The Excuse Mill or Missing in Action, but the vast majority of my students have been hard-working, upbeat people focused on improving their lives and the lives of their children.  Wonder Women far outnumber the Wonder Whiners in my classes.

So, tomorrow I'll be reading another new batch of bios.  Who will I get to meet this time - Shrinking Violet and The Invisible Man, or The Webslinger and The Princess of Persuasion?  Only time will tell.

“It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.”
 Jacob Chanowski

No comments:

Post a Comment