Distance learning

I had my first real academic half day today.  And by distance to boot.

It was kind of like the first day of school.  Except I don’t get cool new supplies or anything.  Just a teleconferencing access code and a room to sit in.

I have been in courses previously that were video conferenced to other sites and I didn’t enjoy it then because the technical issues were always delaying things and then we had a prof who liked to make us do group work through the computer screen.   Plus, there is something awkward about being in one of the seats captured by the camera, so that you always seem to be in view.

In fact, today, we attended lunch time rounds with another site via video conference.  The camera in our room was malpositioned, so only the tops of our heads could be seen.  No complaints from us.  Until, miraculously part way through the presentation this message appeared from the videoconference Gods or something telling us to fix our camera because the other participants can’t see us… Obviously.   It kept popping up until we fixed it.  And our lovely, lunch eating faces were on the screen.

I spent all of my family medicine rotation doing half day by distance (because we were all distributed to all kinds of random small towns) and it was an online conference with no video.  And it was in the morning.  And I did it from home.  The beauty of this was that people could not see you.  And they couldn’t hear you unless you wanted them to.

As a result, I attended these sessions in pajamas, eating breakfast, having Patrick wander by in a towel,  amongst other things.  You could do anything really.  The professionalism police could kill me for some of it.  If they saw me.

Today, I attended the session from a conference room in the hospital.  By myself.  In a spinny chair.  I spun, and chewed my pen and ate a snack.  It was as delightful as being alone in a room can be.

The problem was that I was supposed to be learning.  It is very difficult to focus on a lecture when you are not in the room and can’t see the lecturer.  Plus, I have learned this material before in my undergrad.  And the lecturer had a very strong accent that made him difficult to understand.  So, sometimes, I would have a clue what was going on, but then would space out and lose track completely.

In a few weeks, I will be in the room with the rest of them.   All two of us and the lecturer.  I will miss being able to spin and galavant as I please, but it will be safer, me thinks.

It is funny how the technological age has made it easier for us to stay in touch and do things like distance learning and yet separated us in another sense.   I am glad for the convenience, though.


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