November 29, 2013
The Problem With Online Courses
Okay, so this has been stewing for a while now and I think it is finally time I get this off my chest and open this up for discussion. I’m really growing to hate online courses, and I’m 90 percent sure that people other than me feel the exact same way for almost the exact same reasons, and it’s bloody well time people stop being so pacifistic about it and actually stand up and say why it’s bothering them.
To first and foremost smack down the inevitable motherly fly buzzing around my ear, “Well, if you don’t like them then just don’t take them,” I’m already doing that to the best of my abilities. However, it’s almost impossible to take a course nowadays that’s strictly In Person using pen and paper. And even if do find one of these rare gems, chances are the homework, quizzes, tests, and lab manuals have been extradited to the Internet for “ease of access.” I’m sorry I was a bit confused, because you see I had this archaic notion that “In Person” meant just what it says — IN PERSON — as in I can do my quizzes, tests, labs, and leave class at school aside from the occasional and acceptable homework. Oh, but it’s okay because its listed in the syllabus as an “enhanced” course, which I’m guessing is the marketing term for it’s not a hybrid In Person/Online course — wink wink, nudge nudge.
Maybe this speaks more of our society and a show of the times, we’ve been in this great technology boom and everything is being digitized for convenience. But all the while we haven’t asked ourselves, is this the best thing for our education? Because every time an assignment is put online, it just reinforces the feeling that this is just a cop out by lazy Profs who force their TAs to grade everything for them whilst they piss away university funds researching their inner angst. If you honestly need any more proof of this, look at MyMathLabs (Google MyMathLabs bullshit for more fun), which has numerous fallacies and often gives a margin of error that only a machine could match. This is something that should be taught in person, where you can make mistakes and learn from it, not read out of a book and barfed up into an online answer document hoping you got exactly right to the 10th decimal.
“But Takarin, you uneducated swine, online courses are more convenient for people with work schedules and life commitments,” one might say in a snobby superior tone. And you know what? You’re bloody well right, but I’m still gonna hold the cigar because that’s just one side of the stogie. Yes, it works for some people but the rest of us suffer whenever you try to force merge these two together by quickly slamming them together and hoping it sorts itself out. It doesn’t work like that and the number of dropped courses only serves to prove it. Separating the two works fine; let the students pick the class that best suits their learning style, but don’t trick us into believing that we’re taking one and then serve a lukewarm puddle of both and expect things to go well.
So, now I’ve reached a point where you probably are asking, “Well, what’s YOUR solution” with an imaginary finger pointing at me. Well, as much as I’d like to be a sarcastic git and say that it’s not my problem, that would contradict everything I just said so here’s my idea for a solution. First off, let’s stop forcing the two together. Second off, we should pick one online system per school, and maybe even enforce this at a state level. I can understand that raises a whole other issue of schools having preference when talking about their online system, but seriously, there’s seven different systems alone just upon launching the required testing browser, and that doesn’t include the over half a dozen other systems I’ve seen. And finally, I’d invest in better servers, because the online system going down for the twelfth time was the final nail in the coffin that inspired this rant.
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