One of these days I’ll figure out just how much of my degree I was able to complete without leaving the island. I took many, many classes online or via ITV (instructional television). I really like online courses. ITV, a little less so. With ITV you have the advantage of seeing your instructor and fellow students who are in Augusta where the class is conducted. At the ITV site, students view the class on TV screens, and can call in with questions. It’s all very workable, but I always felt a bit out of touch. Of course, there are professors that stand out, those who went out of their way to include all the sites around Maine in the classroom discussion (I’m thinking of you, Ellen Taylor, with your phone bridges and discussion groups in ENG 102). But usually, I felt a little “out of sight, out of mind.”
Oddly, I felt less connected to my classmates in ITV than I do in online classes. For me, a TV screen feels like a divider while a computer screen feels like an inviter. But then, I’m a rather reclusive soul by nature, so that statement might say more about me than it does about ITV.
At any rate, the day finally came when the classes I needed or was interested in simply weren’t available online or by ITV. I wasn’t looking forward to making the trek to Rockland every week and sitting in a classroom with a bunch of strangers (see “reclusive soul” above). But one does what one must, and, all said, it’s been a blast. Each semester for the last couple years I’ve taken a class or two at URock (the local university center affiliated with UMA). And I’ve gotten to know some great folks – students, instructors, and URock staff – along the way.
Oh, and I get there by boat. Or rather, car, boat, car. I drive to the ferry terminal, park and walk on the ferry, ride across the bay (about an hour and twenty minutes), walk off and get in my mainland car, and go to class about 7 minutes away. Here’s a taste of my commute…