Sunday, June 26, 2022

Clear Instructions and Online Education

I would seem to be quite bright in some ways and quite stupid in others. Perhaps the two are related. One of my strengths is to see the big picture when others cannot. One of my weaknesses is not seeing what's right in front of me. 

This past year, I've taken a number of classes with Southern New Hampshire, the "Game Programming and Development" major. I have enjoyed the courses for the most part. Honestly, the courses have not really made me competent at anything. I find the 8 weeks just enough to get a taste of each subject. They are like bookmarks on subjects I would need to return to if I wanted to go anywhere with them.

Mind you, 8 weeks is pretty much standard now for online courses. It's not something that can really be negotiated, I don't think. I took a Calculus II course with Arizona State last year that was 7 weeks long and brutal. They didn't cut out a thing. But it's almost inevitable, IMO, that these 8-week courses won't cover as much material as a normal 15-week one. To me, it's an argument for self-paced learning.

I messed up on a final project for an SNHU class recently because of accompanying documentation that was supposed to go with a project. Mind you, I had some distractions and turned it in during the middle of the night. The code I turned in was almost up to snuff. The grade was more because of a failure to include things I could have easily included. How did that happen?

It happened because I didn't double-check the rubric. This is a pet peeve of mine with the courses I've taken with Southern New Hampshire. The instructions for assignments are usually pretty thin. To get a sense of what you need to turn in, you pretty much have to go to the rubric and translate it into steps yourself. I find this incredibly annoying. The best courses have been those when individual professors have stood in what seems to me a glaring gap at times (and they do have some really good adjuncts).

I have wondered if there is an intentional desire for students to learn how to go to the web to figure out things ourselves. I doubt it. It just seems that there is an unintentional and quite inappropriate gap between the knowledge base you need to complete some assignments and that which is provided. 

Now this may be my stupidity in part, my inability to see what is right in front of me. It could be my incredible blindness at times. I'm not leaning in that direction, but I have to accept it is possible. I had a high school teacher who couldn't believe that I could read a whole book and not have noticed who the author was. She was wrong.

Here's another pet peeve of mine. It was true at IWU with their online programs and they wanted it to be true of the seminary some 7 years ago. I'm sure they've given in. 

I wanted instructions to spell out what day of the week assignments were due on. So if your first discussion post was due on Thursday, I wanted to say so. They did something like "Day 4." WHY?????

Southern New Hampshire doesn't even do that. Somehow, when you take your first class, you pick up that discussions are on a Thursday-Sunday flow and assignments are due Sunday. But they don't say anything like that in the instructions for an individual assignment.

This has been an annoyed student. When I create online courses, they have clear instructions. Just saying.


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