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Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

I’ve taken half a dozen online classes in the past two years. And I’ve finally learned: they don’t usually work for me.

More specifically: it is difficult for me to invest in an online course (or any course) with little accountability, little or no face time, and the feeling that I’m just one person in a sea of faceless class members.

The fault doesn’t lie with the course content or the instructors – I’ve enjoyed some of the lessons on writing or photography, scrapbooking or yoga, from women like Jen and Andrea, Marianne, Jennifer and Ali. I am in no way criticizing these women or the content of their courses. In fact, I’d heartily recommend all of them. The problem is mine.

Sometimes the problem is my motivation for signing up. I’ve signed up for several online courses run by bloggers whose work I enjoy, because I didn’t want to “miss out” – because I was, in effect, trying to “keep up” with others in the blogosphere. And, tellingly, even with access to deep stories and thought-provoking questions, or useful yoga poses or photo techniques, I ended up disengaging within days.

Sometimes I simply wanted the course to do something it couldn’t do (similar to the root of the gift-giving anxiety I struggle with around the holidays). I am always – and especially since I moved to Boston – searching for connection and real community. It’s hard for me to get that in a big, anonymous-feeling online forum (though it often comes easier via blog comments, tweets and one-to-one emails). And when I start to feel anonymous and/or ignored, I shut down and withdraw. (This is true – oh so true – in my offline life, too.)

Let this be a lesson to me: there are some ways to connect online that really work for me – and I’m grateful for the community I’ve found in those places. But there are some ways that don’t suit me as well. And next time I’m tempted by an online course, I’ll think long and hard before clicking the “Register” button.

Have you taken any online courses? What has been your experience? I’d love to know.

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Last week, I headed downtown for an appointment, at a place I’d found online. I rode the T to get there, of course, after confirming my itinerary and correct stops online. After that, I rode the T to a cafe to meet Abi and Shanna for our weekly coffee night – a place Shanna had found online (with the help, it must be said, of Groupon).

It got me thinking about how different this move is from any of the moves my family made when I was a kid. We moved four times before I was eight, the last time in 1992, and my parents couldn’t hunt for jobs or houses or anything else over the Internet. Once in a new place, they relied on friends, neighbors, coworkers and people they had just met (realtors, etc.) to help them find the grocery store, the doctor’s office, the mall, the pharmacy and other necessities.

However: Jeremiah found the job opening that propelled us here on a job-listings site. He looked for apartments on Craigslist before he came, and since we arrived, I have found the yoga studio, the pharmacy, the local knitting group, public transport information and SO MUCH OTHER STUFF online. (And I’ve been conducting my job search – and doing freelance work – over the Internet.)

Neither of us have smartphones – we’ve just been doing our searching at home and then trying out that info in Quincy or Boston or wherever. (We do have a handy car GPS device.) But it makes me wonder: even though moving is always difficult, how much easier has it become with the advent of the Internet? And how on earth did my mother find everything she needed to find, in Midland and Kingwood (near Houston) and Coppell (near Dallas), with no Internet and two small children? I suddenly have so much more respect for my parents, and for everyone who moved before the information superhighway was a part of our everyday lives.

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