25 October 2010

Online Classes: The Final Verdict

I mentioned ages ago that I took some online classes while I studied in Brazil last spring.  Any Ball State student can take online classes, although Distance Education does charge an extra fee.  I opted to take some online classes while I was in Brazil because I wanted to take a full course load, but I didn't want all my courses to be in Portuguese.  Distance Education gives two online class options: 10-week courses, and 9-month courses.  Both my classes (Geography 101 and History 413: Recent American History) were 9 months long.  Well, I just finished my lass assignments, and here's what I think:

1.  The pace of both my courses was pretty conducive to a hectic life style.  Both classes were arranged to have only 2 assignments a month.  However, I'm a procrastinator, so I completely put off doing my assignments until the last minute.  That meant I had A LOT of work to do over the past two weeks, which kind of sucked.  I should have taken the 10-week courses to be more crunched to finished them before this semester started.  As it was, you reap what you sow.

2.  Taking one of my core science credits online was probably wise.  I hate labs, and online classes don't have labs.  There was a lot of reading, but honestly, each assignment took less than an hour.  I definitely didn't learn nearly as much as I would have had I taken the "real" course on campus, but the class is also one I don't necessarily need for my career.  All classes are valuable, but some are occasionally *less* valuable.  (I'm wincing as I write this because I'm trying to walk the line between being honest and not encouraging anyone to slack off in a class. . . which I DON'T support!)

3.  My Recent American History class was fantastic.  Probably one of the most interesting classes I've had.  And I really, really like the professor who teaches it.  Which sucks because it would have been even better as an on-campus course.  Never again will I take a class I'm really interested in online.  Never.

4.  Some professors "get" the whole online class thing better than others.  For example, my history professor gave us a combination of assignments and essays for the course, and each chapter came with a video of my professor sharing a historical "artifact," which we then had to write about.  For never seeing my professor face-to-face, the class was really good.  It was dynamic, interesting, and varied.  Now, take that compared to my science class.  Again, it wasn't my favorite topic to study, but the entire class consisted of reading chapter after chapter in a textbook (read: BOR-ring) and answering 30 multiple-choice questions about each one.  So yeah, it wasn't the most intellectually challenging course I've had.  BUT it was still a good class because it was easy.  Some videos would have been nice though.  Maybe some demonstrations of the experiments we're not getting since we don't have a lab.  Just a thought.

5.  Some professors are better at responding to emails than others.  If you have a question about the course or are concerned about your grade, you can't necessarily count on the professor getting back to you.  And in one sense, why should (s)he?  You're taking the class online.  Take campus courses if you want interaction.


If on campus, I wouldn't take online classes; however, it was really convenient to get important course credit while I was abroad.  The one exception I have is this:  if there's a topic you really don't like--and it's a 100 or 200 level class--then I would consider taking the course online.  At least then you don't have to sit through something you hate for three hours a week.  An exception to the exception: if you're a procrastinator (like me), don't take online classes.  You'll end up with a boat load of work all at once that you may or may not get done.

24 October 2010

Rock Climbing/ My Parents are Awesome

I just had a great weekend.  My parents came to Ball State last Wednesday for an awards dinner, and they decided to stay until Saturday evening.  While I regrettably had some homework, which kept me from spending as much time with them as I would have liked, we did have time together nearly every evening.  We had a stellar time.  Saturday was particularly exciting because I got to spend nearly the whole day with them.  We went out for breakfast, walked around Minnetrista, and bought some goods from the farmer's market.  Then we went to a sports bar and watched football. (Michigan State won!  Yay!)  After my dad's college team won (just barely), we went rock climbing on campus.

So, in case you're skimming and not really thinking about what you just read, read again:  my totally awesome dad in his mid-fifties went ROCK CLIMBING with me on Ball State's campus.  My mom was equally awesome and documented the whole thing.  : )

There he goes!

I'm so proud he's my dad.  I mean, really: how many dads would spend their weekend climbing walls with their daughter?

There I go!  It had been a while since I'd been in the gym (silly homework), so it felt SO GOOD to be back on the wall.

The two of us together.  We should have gotten a family shot with my mom, too.

This is his second time up.  With just two times he was already improving.

See?  Look at him go!

My second time up.

I mentioned in a post before school started how excited I was about the rock wall, and it has lived up to ALL of my expectations.  I can't even begin to tell you how much I love climbing at Ball State.  The staff is friendly and REALLY helpful, new routes are constantly being mapped, and it's free to climb!  All you need is a Ball State ID.

17 October 2010


Reasons I like my major:  yearly field trip to awesome places.  This year?  Boston, Massachusetts (which might be the most difficult state to spell).

Ok, Boston in and of itself it super cool.  It's one of the oldest cities in our country, tons of historical things have happened there, and it's surprisingly pretty and easy to walk around.  Even when it rains for four days straight.  Which it did.  :/

Boston was also exciting for me in particular because I have several friends who live in the Boston area and who I don't get to see very often.  I was able to meet up with two good friends I met while I was in Egypt a few summers ago.  I was thrilled beyond belief I got to see them.  :)

And so without further ado, enjoy the photographic evidence of my journey!

I like the white print on the window.  Classy.

I also *love* copper.  Especially when --everything-- else was brick.

We found many small doors.

Oops!  Someone got a ticket!

I even like this vinyl siding just because it's different than the brick.  Tackiness aside, the brick was boring.

Pizza box!  No idea why it was on the car though.

This is an entrance to one of the coolest parking garages ever.

See?  It even has shops on the ground floor to make it even more brilliant.

We passed this train station several times in our wanderings....

*This* is much more my preferred city.  I love the canyon appearance.  It's so grand, but also somehow intimate.

Gateway to Chinatown.  We met the people who helped design this.

This water feature is just inside the gateway in Chinatown.  I'm pretty sure it's symbolic of something, but I can't remember what.

I love the red poles that form cages around the bamboo screens.

We also take time to meet with firms while we're on field trip.  This landscape architect took time to tell us about his firm and some of his projects.  I really liked the style this firm had--very clean and simple.

Landscape architects also design cemeteries.... which isn't depressing at all.  This photo was taken in the first LA-design cemetery in the U.S.

Still in the cemetery.  This person wanted to be remembered with a giant sphinx.  I just hope he or she was Egyptian.

The first of several photos I took of Sasaki's parking lot.  I could have stayed in their parking lot for hours.

There were so many details.

I love how they used paving to mark the spaces.

The ginkgoes add so much character to this space.  And I love the color against the gray.

Such a stylish entrance.

Again, fabulous paving patterns.

And you have to love the sleek benches.

They even pulled some of the landscape elements into the building.

Near the Christian Science Center.

The Christian Science Center

4-acre reflecting pool near the Christian Science Center

Get it?  Get it?  We're the tortoise and the hare!  (I was having trouble using my foot to scratch my ear like the statue.)

Bioswales hold runoff water to give it a chance to sink into the ground.  This bioswale is beautiful and on MIT's campus.

Looking at myself in a Frank Gehry building on MIT's campus.  By the way, I liked MIT much more than I liked Harvard. Just saying.

My friend with her new walking, plastic nose.

Someone from the Travel Channel was filming at Salem while we were there.  Ten points to whoever can tell me his name!

I have a relative who was hanged during the Salem Witch Trials.  This is his memorial marker near the cemetery.

Apparently all the "witches" were put into a mass grave that has since been lost.  So now each victim has one of these stone memorials instead of a tombstone.

The ship is technically less of a pirate ship and more of a merchant ship, but being a pirate was way more fun than being a merchant.  :)

07 October 2010

The Importance of Presentation. . .

Ok, I'm beginning to better understand what's going on here.  When we were creating Students for Peace in Palestine we thought a lot about what topics the group would discuss and what we wouldn't.  We talked about outreach programs and ways to begin a dialogue on campus about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  We talked about information we knew and information we'd like to learn.  We briefly talked about the name of our organization, chosen to affiliate us with the national organization.

We did not talk about what "Students for Justice in Palestine" would sound like to someone who knew nothing about our organization, nor did we discuss whether or not the name reflected our intentions or goals.  As it turns out, presentation is everything (my design professors were right!).  We began questioning our name just a few weeks after we created the group and decided to change it to "Students for Peace in Palestine."  It sounds a bit less militant, if you will.  I just got off the phone with my dad-- someone I regard as one of the wisest people I have access to-- and he brought to my attention that our name still doesn't convey who we are.  In fact, one could read our name and assume we're pro-Palestine (and maybe by default anti-Israel).  Perhaps "Students for Peace in Palestine and Israel"  would be better?  Maybe "Students for Better Understanding of Human Rights Violations in the Israel/Palestine Area"?  I'm honestly not sure.  Maybe we should simply join with a campus human rights group like the Social Justice League and create a sub-committee.

Be that as it may, we are a campus organization and the people who might be upset about our name have already heard our name.  So maybe now it's a moot point.  I'll admit, when I first heard the organization's name I was hesitant.  I'm still not a member of the Facebook group just in case it bodes ill for a job application.  I understand those who have initial reservations about Students for Peace in Palestine based solely on the name, I really do.  In a perfect world we would all do independent investigation to learn motives and reasoning behind controversial subjects, but we don't live in a perfect world and few people have time to learn both sides to every issue.

From that [newly found] observation, it's a shame my organization didn't give our name more thought at the beginning.  The importance of presentation cannot be questioned, and now we're dealing with some complications that *maybe* could have been avoided.

I'm still disappointed about the lecture though.  And more determined than ever to find a solution that works.

So Disappointing. . .

I'm so disappointed right now.  I've been working really hard to get a lecture series going for Students for Peace in Palestine (formally Students for Justice in Palestine), and our first lecture was supposed to be tonight.  However, it appears that our campus Jewish organization, Hillel, was making plans to "derail" the lecture.  I don't know many details yet, but the lecture has been canceled until further notice.

Everyone has a right to free speech, so at blank value I don't mind that Hillel was going to protest our lecture; however, considering we're a brand-new organization that is concerned about violations of Palestinian rights as well as violations of Israeli rights, I think their decision was very much a knee-jerk reaction-- I wish they would have let us have our first lecture so they could see that we're NOT anti-Israel or anti-Jewish.  We're pro-human.  Maybe I can understand their fear, but I wish they hadn't decided to pre-judge us.  Again, I'm sooooo disappointed.

So, if you're a member of the Hillel group or have been watching SPP with a wary eye, please understand that our group just wants to bring awareness that there are people--Jewish, Arab, Christian, and a host of other identities-- in the Israel/Palestinian region who are being denied their basic human rights.  When we DO have our first lecture, I hope that you come, listen with an open mind, and bring your perspective to the discussion.  Please consider joining the conversation we're trying to have on campus rather than stifling it.

Because the only way to promote peace is to promote understanding.

To learn more about Students for Peace in Palestine, read the Daily News article announcing our group.