ndlw: a day in the life


ndlwIn case the graphic didn’t give it away, today marks the beginning of National Distance Learning Week!  If you’ve already read Rebecca’s really awesome official SU post on the same subject, you can probably stop here.  If you’re reading because you’re entertained by my follies, then… hi, mom.

As a distance learning student and someone posing as a blogger, I am intrigued by the concept of devoting a whole week to people like me.  While they don’t all pretend to be bloggers, there are millions of people in the United States who are distance learning students.  Millions.

I took a moment to think about that.  Whoa.

I field a lot of questions about the whole distance learning thing, as though people discover that I’m some bizzare creature that eats tomato soup with a fork (I wrote about those questions a while back).  The truth is, though, that a lot of people we know are earning their degrees online.  There are plenty of new teachers who acquire their requisite Masters online while starting their full-time teaching careers.  One of my sisters is getting her Masters through distance learning, because she wouldn’t otherwise have access to such a great program with a highly specialized degree.  One of my best friends is getting her MBA online so she can take classes at an expedited rate.  Distance learning, especially beyond the four-year degree, is becoming a serious contender for those embarking on journeys of higher education.

Most people already understand that distance learning allows you to fit your education into your life.  It’s great for people who can’t leave their 9-5, or who don’t want to miss dinner with the family so they can take night classes.  Or people who have taken six years to finally warm up to the idea of urban living, but only in one particular city, since traversing the Amazon would surely be easier to navigate than a whole new city.  Not that I can relate to that.

Since you already understand some of the pros and cons of distance learning, I’m going to give you a glimpse into the day-to-day life of a barista/future librarian.  Welcome to a typical day of karen the (soon to be) librarian:

7am(ish): Wake up.  Compare the threat of wasting the morning in bed to that of leaving its euphoric comfort for the harsh world that exists outside of my covers.

7:15am: Get out of bed.  Make coffee and greet the bunny.  Get my Sun Salutation on (harsh world, indeed!)

8am: Fire up the laptop.  Check email, Facebook, and Bloglines.  Find out what day it is.

8:20am: Log onto my class website (we call it a learning management system, or LMS) and make sure I don’t have anything due today.  Check to see if anyone has responded to my posts.  Really ensure that I’m positive what day it is (Wednesday?  It feels like Saturday).

9am: Remember the really important form that’s due for approval tomorrow.  Send an urgent Facebook message and tweet to classmates.  Work on assignments, discussions, blogs, or other nerdy librarian stuff.  Lament that I don’t have someone around all the time to test-drive my content for humor, intellect, or wit.

9:15am: Refresh the page continuously until someone responds to my plea.

10am: Thank my classmate profusely for her wonderful response and magnanimous assistance.  Fill out the form, submit it, and breathe a sigh of relief.  Check Facebook and comment on the librarian gig that a classmate just secured, and find out what I did with that Jeopardy! PowerPoint template that I saw once on my hard drive so I can pass it along to another classmate.

10:15am: Call and/or email one of the many amazing people at the iSchool with fervent queries regarding minutiae that no one but me cares about.  Thank them for not hanging up on me.

10:30am: Begin a simple task, such as sweeping the floor or doing the dishes.  Watch it snowball as I rearrange the entire apartment, organize that cupboard with containers and plastic bags, and/or cook meals for the month.

1pm: Realize that I’m now in danger of being late for work.  Look at my calendar to make sure I know what day it is and what time I’m supposed to be at work.  Check Facebook and get ready for work.

1:30pm:  Kick myself for never actually getting the floor swept or the dishes done.  Sync articles and other homework stuffs onto my phone, which I absolutely do not ever read or look at while I am at work.  Make sure it really is Wednesday.

2:30pm: Punch in to work.  Brew coffee, fill out values walk, make tasty bevs, and other green apronly stuff.  Do not use my amazing little phone to check email, Facebook, or homework.  Absolutely not.

9:58pm: Tell customers that we’re about to close.  Make a joke that no one laughs at.  Retreat to the back room to pull myself together do work-related stuff.

10pm: Close the store.

10:02pm: Punch out.  Go to Wegmans.  Wander around with headphones on, enjoying the experience and dodging anyone who might recognize me as their barista, which inevitably happens at least once per trip.

11pm: Hang out with the bunny.  Check the LMS, Facebook, email, and Hulu.

midnight: Celebrate making it through another day by pulling the covers as far above my head as I can.

Of course, that’s just an ordinary day.  Sometimes I meet up with friends before or after work, and there are many times when that entire schedule is replaced by a Big Gulp of coffee and a hefty assignment that’s due tomorrow. Fieldwork also made an interesting addition to the mix.

The point of all this is that distance learning is losing its stigma and becoming a big part of many people’s daily lives.  I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to complete this program from a revered institution without having to uproot my entire life.  Sure, there are a lot of sacrifices involved in distance learning, but I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.


One Response to “ndlw: a day in the life”

  1. That is so cool! You go girl!! I love the poster…..

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