Saturday, June 23, 2012

There's a party in my mind ... 'cause this online course is almost over.

Student post on course help forum: What's the lowest grade I can get and still pass this course?

Response: The passing grade depends on the requirements of your major.

What I didn't add: Fuck you too, dimwit.

The worst part of an online course that is not discussion-driven is that you only hear from the needy idiots, never from the good students who are getting it done.


  1. Good post!

    Thanks for the preview. A few months from now, I will probably be dealing with the same thing. I've never taught an online course before. How much misery am I looking at?

    1. Really not that much. There are students who sign up, then never do anything. There are students who just slide through, doing just enough, and don't bitch about the low-pass grade.

      But there are also students, who mostly seem to be non-trads, who are incredibly ignorant or even phobic about the technology underlying the entire concept of an online course. I'm dealing with students who are my age, but who never needed to develop an intuitive understanding of a GUI before. Students who can't figure out that if an activity says "not available until activity Feed the Hamster is complete" they need to bloody well check the "complete" box next to the Feed the Hamster activity. Students who upload one part of a multi-part assignment, click "send for grading," and can't figure out why they can't upload the rest of their assignment. Students who seem to actively fight the course rather than going with the flow and getting into it.

      You get this sort of thing in a face-to-face course, too, but in F2F you are bucked up by the students who are engaged. In a non-discussion-centered online course, the only students you ever hear from are the ones whining about deadlines or unable to find their asses with both hands and a flashlight.

    2. You'll take to it at first because it has certain potentials and advantages and is new for you. Then, when the university moves you all online, you'll start to go bat shit crazy after a few years. Then you'll quit and do something else. Okay, I'm talking about me, not you. But that is my experience.

  2. Just remember, if you ever end up on foodstamps,

    alcohol = sugar + warm water + yeast

    and it's pennies on the dollar!

  3. Me, too (the course and the celebration). Actually, mine hasn't been bad, perhaps because it's set up so I do interact a bit with the good students (who are by far the majority) as well. Of the 10% or so who have been in more-than-average contact, I'd classify half as anxious but hard-working and increasingly on top of things as the semester went on, and the other half as the problematic ones (didn't read textbook and/or instructions, didn't do work but expected to pass anyway, etc., etc.). All in all, it hasn't been a bad experience, but I'm really, really tired, and looking forward to stepping away from the interwebz for a while. Now if I can just push through the last 24 hours or so of grading. At least my inbox is, for now, blissfully quiet, but that won't last if I don't get the grades up as promised. . . .

  4. I just finished an online course as well. I noticed something particularly interesting in my group. Of 20 students, half were non-trads (i.e., real world work experience, usually married with kids, going back to finish up a degree or do one for the first time, aged 25-45) and half were traditional undergraduates (aged 18-24), most of whom were in my discipline.

    The non-trads out-performed the traditional students easily. All of them earned grades between 85-100, while the traditional aged students ranged between 68-90 with several earning Fs. The quality of writing was higher with the non-trads, the critical thinking was better, the questions asked were deeper. Several of them did require hand-holding with some of the technology (as points out), but once they did the first two weeks of assignments, they caught on quickly.

    The traditional undergrads--whom I have long said should not be taking online courses in their first two years until they figure out how to be college students--were better at accepting the technology at face value, but beyond that...a lot of frustration with not turning things in on time, not reading the directions thoroughly, etc. The juniors and seniors in the class tended to outperform the freshmen and sophomores, but I did have one senior earn her F the easy way: by not doing much of anything.

    My online experience this time was much better than when I taught a similar course before, but I am still somewhat skeptical about the quality of the experience, despite my own best efforts to engage with the students.


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