When I decided to attend a Therapeutic Recreational (TR) program at Stenberg College I was apprehensive about learning TR online. Being a recreational therapist is a very active hands-on job – mentally, physically and emotionally. The idea of learning online seems contradictory. I pondered how I am going to learn the practical aspects of becoming a Therapeutic Recreation Assistant and actually applying my studies in practice? As an example, in a classroom setting I assumed I would be more involved with classmates, able to create group exercise and have deeper interaction.
Shortly after studies started I realized the amazing advantages of online reading. The “Moodle” that is our work station is pretty good system. In Moodle, classmates take part in discussion forums and post ideas around the studies. Written posts are a valuable and informative collection of material that you learn from other classmates. Interaction with classmates is more active than I thought possible.
One of the great advantages of online learning is that I can organize my days around my studies. Because I like to exercise and stay healthy, I can take a break in the middle of the day and split up studies so I am able to maximize my reading capacity by having a brain break and restore my thinking cap.
Another great benefit is the opportunity for volunteering or working part time. I figured, if I need to dress up and bus to school it would take me at least three hours out of my day. Now, I can work around the online study schedule and save time. I volunteer in an assisted living place a couple of hours per week and I also work as a recreation aide at another congregate housing 1 to 2 times per week. What a great chance to gain practical experience while studying online! I can benefit with online studies and hands-on practicum simultaneously. This gives a great advantage for getting jobs when you have graduated.
Nevertheless, the TR online environment is intense and at times there is heavy requirements for reading. Because you need to submit assignments weekly, it is essential that you are organized. The key to success is to manage your time. The idea is to stay slightly ahead so that you can modify anything before you submit your paper into the Moodle and make sure it has gone through. The Moodle is like any software program and technical issues can arise. This is why it is very essential to stay on top of work and leave some extra time so you don’t miss the deadline for any assignment. The IT guys at Stenberg College are always there to help you.
I like Thursday evenings when we have an Adobe Connect “Chatline”. I meet all my classmates there. The Connect chat is fun but it sometimes challenging.On Chatline for example, you can “raise your hand” to speak or you can write down your ideas but sometimes I cannot keep up with the writing. Sometimes I don’t get to the answers and discussions as quickly as some of my peers. When I thought about this dilemma of not being able to engage with others, I came to conclusion that the Adobe Connect is not always beneficial for all of the classmates equally because I can see others having difficulty with the ability to respond quickly. Some students are natural speakers and writers and quickly respond to the questions asked or take over the discussion. Some of us think about the questions and subject matter more in depth. I prefer to listen to others quite bit but if I have something to add on to the discussion I try my best to participate. The participation is worth 30% of our grade. I look at the Adobe Chat Connection as a perfect challenge to gain better online discussion and feedback skills.
Check out this video of our Therapeutic Assistant Diploma Program (Gerontology Specialization).