Today was the on-campus orientation for my online masters degree program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. It was the first time I got to meet faculty, staff, and fellow students enrolled in the CTER (Curriculum, Technology, and Education Reform) Program. It was nice to finally interact face-to-face with many people I got to know online last semester, and see the real faces in person–as opposed to little icon jpegs. Now I feel more like I am really a part of a masters degree program, and not just simply taking a few classes online. If for no other reason, I thought the on-campus orientation did a lot toward making this program seem more tangible–more real. Even though the CTER faculty and staff make great efforts toward building an online community, it’s still easy to lose sight of the fact that fellow students are real people, and not just voices heard through laptop speakers in Elluminate or Gizmo sessions. I’m really glad I was able to attend. Thanks to everyone who participated.