It’s embarrassing to admit, but there was an online course during my undergrad that I completely forgot I was taking until I received an email kindly reminding me of an assignment that was overdue. The course consisted of standard textbook reading assignments and paper-writing. Class participation involved email exchanges and posting your thoughts to topic threads. There are some people that thrive with these types of online courses; it suits their personal needs and allows them to be successful.
There are, however, many people like myself who need the personal interactions and accountability of the classroom environment. So in spite of the perks of being self-paced and flexible, I decided from that experience that online learning wasn’t for me.
The Decision to Advance My Degree
Returning for my master’s degree was on my mind for about a year, but I didn’t think it was feasible. My inhibitions about returning were mostly centered around commuting and child care.
One day, a banner ad from Georgetown University caught my eye. It wasn’t some random, run-of-the-mill school offering an online nursing program — it was Georgetown. I clicked on it to learn a little bit about 2GU, an online forum that I can access 24/7 in addition to attending weekly live seminars. I took my chances and applied for the program.
2GU has many of the benefits that conventional online learning provides. There are recordings of topic-specific lectures to view, a course wall with updates, and hand-outs to aid learning. These are available to me any hour of the day I choose. However, there is much more to tell.
Each week, I attend my seminars with the help of my webcam and phone, meeting with my instructor and approximately 10 other students. The seminars consist of traditional, instructor-led visual presentations, student sharing, and group discussions. We sometimes work in small groups by breaking out into individual chat rooms.
The same opportunities experienced in the traditional classroom now come to me in my own dining room (my room of choice). As an additional bonus, these seminars are recorded and made available to view, if I ever need to reference them. Time that I would have spent commuting to class is now spent on studying. My daughter plays quietly within eyesight.
One of the most useful extras that I really like is the 2GU phone app. Instead of the radio, I listen to the recorded lectures when I commute to work or to my clinical site. This is has been especially useful when refreshing myself on material for an upcoming exam.
Personal interactions are not limited to class time. If you are the type that likes study groups, you can create your own and invite others to join. The groups have their own wall to share materials. Anyone can create a live session with others to prepare for an exam. Instructors also meet with you if you need personal office hours. I have built friendships through these connections.
2GU is the best of both worlds: It offers some of the flexibility, time-saving, and convenience associated with studying online from home, but still allows you to foster relationships and interactions that are a valuable part of any worthwhile education. I highly recommend Georgetown University’s online nurse practitioner program.