I’m about halfway through the Fall semester now.  I’m not enjoying these classes nearly as much as those I took previously.  Part of it is the subject matter, and the other part is communication.

This semester I’m taking (1) Library Finance and (2) Information Secrecy.  The Finance class has had some good information, but a lot of it I’m pretty familiar with already.  I know that once we get to the grants portion of the class I’ll be learning a lot more…  but so far it’s all common sense.  The Secrecy class doesn’t really get me going either.  I guess there’s something disillusioning about learning the different ways/reasons that information is kept secret from the public. 

I think it might be the communication aspect that’s really bringing me down.  For those who don’t know, online classes usually have a participation component that requires posting a certain number of messages on the discussion board.  The Finance class’ requirement is that we answer the question the professor posts.  Everyone dutifully answers the question, but nobody discusses the answers with one another.  If a question is posted by another student, it goes unanswered.  That leads to a boring class.  The Secrecy class requires that we respond to the reading every week and to other students’ responses as appropriate.  My problem is that so many of the students are conspiracy theorists, and if you try to bring up an alternative point of view they attack!  I really don’t want to post my thoughts in a class with such unwelcoming and unfair students.

One of my coworkers asked me if the students behaved this way because the class was online.  He thought that perhaps there’s a disconnect between the way a person would act if they were discussing a view in person as opposed to the way they’d behave online.  I’m unsure if this is the case.  All of the students are adults, and they all seem intelligent.  I think that perhaps the class subject drew a group of people with a very similar viewpoint.  It’s just hard to be the dissenter sometimes.

So, that’s where I am so far.  Next month I’m supposed to pick my classes for Spring 2009.  Let’s hope those choices are better than the ones I made for this semester.



  1. I’ve been on line for a quite awhile. It depends on the place, but the good places are honest, yet work as if you might run into each other. In your case, someday yu might be colleges.Sounds like you are in a less than ideal situation. What is the professor’s role? I’d like to hope they could change the tenor of the discussion.

  2. That is really interesting that bringing up a *non* conspiracy theory point of view is making you a target of attacks! I have little time for conspiracy theories myself, and it’s funny to me that this can be a minority point of view (at least in the bay area).

    I have a somewhat unrelated question: are you also working full-time? If so, does taking two classes per semester seem manageable?


  3. Conspiracy? As in the FBI? or something else? BTW, we will be getting (finally) the opt in feature for our members to keep their check-out history as part of their account. There were (and are) some people very uncomfortable with this, but guess what? It is our members telling us that they want the option. The secrecy or lack of communication within an organization such as a library is the greater threat to our future. Hang in there.

  4. Beth – the professors are supposed to be guides and teachers. They’re supposed to facilitate learning and help ensure that everyone is comfortable. Unfortunately they don’t always do that, and many are quite “hands off”.

    Emma – You have to remember that many of these students and teachers don’t live/work in the bay area. Their viewpoints can be quite different from ours. I am working full-time. I also take care of my mom and do all the normal family/household stuff. For me, 2 classes a semester is do-able, but it’s not fun. I really have to pay attention to deadlines and scheduling to make sure it all gets done. I do a LOT of multitasking (listening to lectures while ironing or cooking, eating lunch and doing homework at work).

    Susan – Yup, conspiracy… As in the government is out to keep everything a secret even if it doesn’t need to be a secret. That the true origin of 9/11 was kept a secret, that the CIA operatives aren’t really operatives but something more sinister… you get the idea. I’m excited that our library will offer options to its members. I don’t know how many times they’ve looked at me like I was crazy when I cited “privacy issues” as the reason why we don’t keep track of the books they read.

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