The past few weeks have been chaotic to say the least, and the future is far from certain. After leaving the devastation in Japan, my fiancée and I headed to Thailand to start our spring break. The constant rain and sporadic power outages in Koh Samui encouraged us to change our plans slightly and move up our next flight to Singapore. This was an incredibly fortuitous decision as the airport closed there the next day, and all ferries stopped – the Thai navy eventually had to send an aircraft carrier to evacuate tourists from the area due to the massive flooding. I then had the pleasure of checking out the Singaporean medical system due to an ear infection, and we’ve since returned to Japan and a broken refrigerator full of rotten food. It would appear that lady luck has not been on our side lately, but really it must all be kept in perspective, and considering the tragedy a few hundred kilometers north of here, and the situation unfolding in a still flooded Thailand, we are indeed incredibly fortunate.
Throughout all this, I’ve been working on two of my last courses (only one more to go!) in my masters program. My program is entirely online, and the past few weeks have further reinforced the tremendous flexibility in this type of learning system. My professors have been incredibly accommodating and understanding, but they’ve also been able to offer alternatives for me that simply wouldn’t be possible in a traditional classroom environment. I’ve been able to submit assignments early or late, I’ve been able to contribute in some form or another to the ongoing discussions, and I’ve been able to keep my classmates updated on my situation, all while moving through different countries and time zones. While uncertainty unfolded around me, my masters program was a constant steady link that has helped to keep me grounded.
I’ve just finished a paper where I found that taking an online course does not impact (positively or negatively) on student grades in traditional classes. This is strictly a quantitative measure though – the qualitative benefits of learning online continue to shine through.