Weekend and School Update

The girl and Sam both had busy week­ends. Katie went out Fri­day and Sat­ur­day, play­ing D&D with friends first, then going to a par­ty with her sweet­ie dur­ing my and Sam’s date Sat­ur­day night. Sam had a com­put­er to deliv­er Sat­ur­day morn­ing, then ran around pick­ing up some things. He went out again yes­ter­day, to the library for me and to the gro­cery store and the farmer’s mar­ket and I’m not even sure where else. Then he did an inter­vew for his pod­cast last night.

This is the last week of my class­es for the semes­ter, so I did a paper for one class and cre­at­ed my slides for a group project pre­sen­ta­tion in the oth­er, then had a cou­ple of quizzes. Mon­day night we do our pre­sen­ta­tion online, and see the oth­er groups’ pre­sen­ta­tions. That class does­n’t have a final, but I do have to take the final for the man­age­ment class, then I’m done.

Next week I start a class every­body is appar­ent­ly sup­posed to take around the begin­ning of their stud­ies, since one of the assign­ments involves cre­at­ing a “plan of study.” DeVry seems to have a lot of these “because we said so” class­es, which is annoy­ing. I’m also tak­ing my first tech­ni­cal writ­ing course at DeVry, though. It will involve more group projects, a bane of my exis­tence.

It’s one thing to work togeth­er in a busi­ness set­ting, where peo­ple’s jobs depend on their per­for­mance. It’s quite anoth­er to be yoked with peo­ple who just can’t be arsed to pull their weight and appar­ent­ly think Bs are high grades. I’m absolute­ly appalled by the num­ber of peo­ple in the 400-lev­el class­es I had this semes­ter who can­not cre­ate a coher­ent para­graph, much less write a paper.

I had the required “write a research paper” class over 20 years ago, at anoth­er school. Either the stan­dards have fall­en hor­ri­bly, or Mer­cer had high­er stan­dards than I real­ized. (I won’t even both­er com­par­ing Agnes Scot­t’s stan­dards to DeVry. It’s too painful.) Of course, if either of those schools had reme­di­al cours­es of any sort, I was unaware of them. Those “teach you what you should have learned in mid­dle school” class­es are a fact of life in all the Uni­ver­si­ty sys­tem schools and DeVry. I know that there were some when I took class­es at Geor­gia Perime­ter so many years ago, but they seem to be more and more impor­tant now. I hon­est­ly don’t think they belong in any insti­tu­tion of “high­er learn­ing.” If you can’t read, write, and do basic math before you get to col­lege, you have no busi­ness being there, because you do not have the essen­tial tools required for suc­cess. I sup­pose that makes me an elit­ist.

It’s going to be odd going back to 100 and 200 lev­el cours­es next week. By the time most stu­dents do get to the 400-lev­el cours­es, the true dregs have dropped out or risen out of that sta­tus. Thread­ed dis­cus­sions are such a huge part of online class­es that you get far more expo­sure to your class­mates writ­ing than in a face-to-face class, and you quick­ly find out who can’t or won’t write and who has no clue about how to dis­cuss issues with­out degen­er­at­ing into total non­sense. That part of this semes­ter has­n’t been as bad as oth­ers, at least. I did still run into nut­cas­es insist­ing that this coun­try was found­ed as a “Chris­t­ian nation,” but that’s pret­ty much to be expect­ed any­more.

Online Courses Not for Everyone

It should­n’t be sur­pris­ing to any­one that edu­ca­tion is not a “one size fits all” endeav­or, online or else­where. This bit about learn­ing styles, how­ev­er, did sur­prise me:

“Cor­re­la­tions between learn­ing styles and suc­cess in dis­tance edu­ca­tion have shown to be incon­clu­sive,” Strick­land1 said. “How­ev­er, one com­mon theme reap­pears: the suc­cess­ful traits of a dis­tance learn­er are sim­i­lar to the suc­cess­ful traits of an adult learn­er in tra­di­tion­al edu­ca­tion­al set­tings.”

The arti­cle claims that there’s “a mere 30 per­cent of dis­tance learn­ers actu­al­ly com­plet­ing their cours­es.” It goes on to men­tion that “Dis­tance learn­ing allows the learn­er to over­come tra­di­tion­al bar­ri­ers to learn­ing such as loca­tion, dis­abil­i­ties, time con­straints and famil­ial oblig­a­tions,” but I’m won­der­ing how much they real­ly paid atten­tion to the fact that those of us who enroll in online class­es are often those who have the most bar­ri­ers to stay­ing in school? I take such cours­es because of phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties, but I’ve still had to drop my class­es repeat­ed­ly because of ill­ness. There are still dead­lines, and in fact some online cours­es are “com­pressed,” mak­ing dead­lines even more impor­tant.

Strick­land also men­tions “the lack of insti­tu­tion­al sup­port and iso­la­tion involved in the nature of online cours­es.” I’m not sure what kind of sup­port is miss­ing, com­pared to face-to-face class­es, but maybe that’s because I’ve nev­er sought out any “insti­tu­tion­al sup­port.” Does she mean tutor­ing?

At one point, though, Strick­land refers to “intro­vert­ed per­son­al­i­ties” and “shy indi­vid­u­als” as (appar­ent­ly) being syn­ony­mous, and not get­ting involved in the typ­i­cal class­room set­ting. That’s a pet peeve of mine. Intro­verts are not nec­es­sar­i­ly shy! We’re self-con­tained, and most of us usu­al­ly put more weight on our own val­u­a­tions than those of oth­ers, so we aren’t as vul­ner­a­ble to peer pres­sure. I miss good class­room dis­cus­sions, as I’ve nev­er seen any online class that has man­aged to pro­voke any­thing close. But then, I did­n’t expe­ri­ence any good dis­cus­sions in face-to-face class­es at DeVry, and very, very few at SPSU. In fact, I heard more than a few of my fel­low stu­dents at SPSU com­plain­ing about non-tra­di­tion­al stu­dents, in par­tic­u­lar, want­i­ng to “talk too much” in class. They clear­ly want­ed less dis­cus­sion, not more!

Quotes from Researcher Finds Not Every­one Can Suc­cess­ful­ly Learn Through Online Cours­es, Despite Their Pop­u­lar­i­ty


1 Shaw­na L. Strick­land, clin­i­cal assis­tant pro­fes­sor in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­souri School of Health Pro­fes­sions

Dragon Con, weekend planning, and back to school

I won’t be going to Drag­on Con unless a tick­et (or pass — hey, I’m will­ing to do pan­els, ya know) falls out of the air. Sam will be run­ning games and the girl will be work­ing the con, so they both got pass­es. 🙂

I’d hap­pi­ly meet out-of-town­ers for lunch or some­thing, though. Jean­nie, you still com­ing?

I expect lots of fun pho­tos (with you in them, not just of the crowds!) and sto­ries from y’all next week to make up for not going, of course.

I’m try­ing to plan some self-care so I don’t get too lone­ly and grumpy over the week­end. I’m fig­ur­ing in stitch­ing time, def­i­nite­ly, but could use some sug­ges­tions as to movies to watch while stitch­ing. I nev­er go to the cin­e­ma, so you can safe­ly assume that if it’s been out in the last two years, I haven’t seen it (except Seren­i­ty, of course!).

Oth­er sug­ges­tions for the week­end?

My cur­rent “fun” read­ing is Wid­der­shins by de Lint, but I’m not real­ly get­ting into it for some rea­son. I need to see if the library has some­thing fluffy like the “Undead and ____” nov­els. Yeah, they’re eas­i­ly bought, but I read them like lit­er­ary M&Ms, so the high cost of paper­backs just does­n’t seem jus­ti­fied. Dekalb’s library does­n’t suck, but I miss Gwin­net­t’s far bet­ter selec­tion of genre fic­tion, as well as liv­ing close to a branch of the PINES sys­tem as we did in Cobb.

I did some­thing for me today, though: I put things in motion to return to school. If all goes as the school thinks it will, I could actu­al­ly be doing some online class­es next week! That is, if they give me the finan­cial aid pack­age I want. If not, I’ll wait ’til Jan­u­ary. But I’d real­ly like to go back now, as I’m feel­ing extreme­ly emp­ty-nest­ed with Katie gone back to school. I don’t want to do just online class­es, because I real­ly miss the dis­cus­sions of a “real” class and I think it would be good to have some­thing reg­u­lar for which I have to leave the house.

On the oth­er hand, online class­es take lots less ener­gy, which leaves more for the actu­al aca­d­e­m­ic pur­suit and the rest of my life.

Hap­pi­ly, Katie prefers doing her home­work next to me rather than hol­ing up in her room as I did at that age, so I get a fair amount of time with her when she’s home. That real­ly does push the need for a lap­top, though, as she can’t be online (or just typ­ing) and be in the liv­ing room with me and Sam. When she had one she made real­ly good use of it.

I real­ly like the fact that she’s attend­ing a school with a good loca­tion and com­mu­ni­ty ties. We could­n’t real­ly ask for bet­ter than where she is in that respect. I’m look­ing for­ward to mov­ing clos­er to the school, though.