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For when your thoughts are drifting to things not so movie, or if you're feeling trivially inclined.
591

online learning...!
Topic by: dpowers
Posted: August 5, 2005 - 8:23 AM PDT
Last Reply: August 5, 2005 - 6:45 PM PDT

author topic: online learning...!
dpowers
post #1  on August 5, 2005 - 8:23 AM PDT  
i took my first and maybe last dum-tum-DUM online class this spring. i was really surprised to find that although i hang around on web boards and email lists a lot, i hated, i mean really did not enjoy, holding an actual class on a web board.

apart from having a bad interface, i guess i knew that a class like that would live or die based on how involved the "teacher" got in facilitating the online discussions. to me, it died, and even though i was interested in the material i was as unmotivated as a piece of moss.

have people had better experiences? or is the informal thing like this just sort of better?
woozy
post #2  on August 5, 2005 - 9:47 AM PDT  
I *hate* online classes. Like you this surprised me but if you think about it, what's the difference between picking up a book on your own and a class? Well, price and a transcript with credit I guess but everything that makes a class an experience, a professor with experience, interaction with classmates, deadlines, interaction with professor, office hours, interaction, interaction, a university library, interaction with fellow students, interaction, etc. are not there. Lectures are ... reading class notes that are prepared ahead of time online and interaction is email but very sparse.

However, for those very reasons I *loved* going to traffic school online. Skim the reading material spending a second on each page (rather than the recommended 10 minutes) and answer the online test. Get the ticket cleared in 15 minutes at home rather than a weekend in a stuffy court classroom. Cool.
dpowers
post #3  on August 5, 2005 - 12:07 PM PDT  
i know i know!

sure, there's an advantage to getting a text illuminated online, like that. i zipped through the online orientation in about half an hour (and promptly forgot everything).

there are theories to this stuff, of course, really beautiful theories that change every once in a while that involve repetitions at specific intervals and pop quiz formats and little asides that turn out to be secret mnemonics and all kinds of things. i read something about it sometime, maybe it was on a web page which i've forgotten.

now there's another thing. after despising the online course, i then read through the textbook on my own, picking out things and talking about them with a real live person and really found some useful stuff - something that i didn't feel like i could do during the course because there was actually coursework that had to be done as the course demanded and i had other things to do with my other time, so, i tried my best to stick to their curriculum.

anyway i think where this thing went wrong was a lack of podcasts. those will be the killer app of online learning.
woozy
post #4  on August 5, 2005 - 12:31 PM PDT  
> anyway i think where this thing went wrong was a lack of podcasts. those will be the killer app of online learning.
> ---------------------------------

Back in '95 when I was taking a database retrieval class for library science we saw a film put out by microsoft about how the the world would be in twenty years for a college professor and most of the stuff we have now but not really. A professor was gathering notes for a class he'd teach. He had an online robot to scour the web for info (we've got those, spiders, but no-one likes using them because no-one knows how to describe the information they want) with a friendly appearance (my professor asked why'd he choose a geek with a bowtie, he'd have chosen something that looked like Michelle Pfiefer; I wondered why give it an avatar at all, its just software so I'd just like it to shut up and put the info I want in my mail box-- no need to pretend its a pet) a conference call with a college in Germany who chides him and sends him her notes. But my professor asked, why a class lecture. Why stand in front of a camera and talk? I wondered about that and these online classes seem even less.

The entire point of a class is that a class gives you a person who knows the material and you have access to him or her. 's okay. The online professor grades your homework and answers email but flakes out about the chat-room office hours because no-one shows up and sends curt e-mail but ... there's no there there. You pretty much are on your own and that's what it feels like.

dpowers
post #5  on August 5, 2005 - 1:47 PM PDT  
[woozy]
> Back in '95 when I was taking a database retrieval class for library science we saw a film put out by microsoft about how the the world would be in twenty years for a college professor and most of the stuff we have now but not really.

wait, i think you're talking about the apple one - it's really from 1988! - the "knowledge navigator" - there's a link to a few movie files a little down the page, near the screen shot. (it made techie discussion rounds a couple years ago, is why i remember it.)

> my professor asked, why a class lecture. Why stand in front of a camera and talk? I wondered about that and these online classes seem even less.

i'm sure efforts made toward developing better teaching devices are useful but i'm placing my money on the likelihood that our brains are wired to learn from other people, in social situations, and that's how we're likely to learn best for some time to come. supporting materials are of course going to change and have changed enormously. but the whole reason for learning is to be in society because we like each other better than we like anything else and always will, on the whole. a physical space uses more senses. more senses, more input, and some real pressure and effort (getting there, being there, staying there) is just a really good thing.

i'm not a big fan of doing foundational teaching in the same environment as you do the rest of your life. new stuff should come at you from a special location so you can focus on it.

> The entire point of a class is that a class gives you a person who knows the material and you have access to him or her. 's okay.

physical presence can be defeated by aggressive scheduling, however. it's possible to end up without time to ask your question, and then go to office hours that just don't get the issue resolved. a combination of loose class time and attentive email response is really terrific, i think. that method hasn't changed for ages except that now email is everywhere.

>The online professor grades your homework and answers email but flakes out about the chat-room office hours because no-one shows up and sends curt e-mail but ... there's no there there. You pretty much are on your own and that's what it feels like.

yep, exactly what happened to me. it took days to hear back from a request for clarification on a project. chat room office hours are a good thing. not being there for them, that's crap. what does it take? you can do it while you watch web porn. you can do it while you're moonlighting in an indian customer service cubby. with a little brainpower you could probably do it with SMS while you were on the bus.

think of all the junk we have now. i wrote to someone about this a few months ago, wow was i pissed. he wanted ideas for a new computer-assisted-everything database he was making. i said, "where's the %#@*$&% open source software for educators? how many more TCP/IP packets do we need moved for free while the schools are paying through the nose for 'action frog does ABCs' and other useless junk that doesn't help the teachers do their jobs?" i was in a fit. he sent me medication instead of answering.

but really, who needs free software more than schools? who needs tech assistance more than schools? it kills me.
Battie
post #6  on August 5, 2005 - 6:45 PM PDT  
First off, education in general is going down the toilet. A theory developed by the author of Gag War is that it's a way to keep the lower classes in line. Frankly, though he generally had some really good idea...that one was out there. But the point of our educational system slowing degrading is a good one. I've had this brought up before; my "mentor" commented how the SATs in the 60s had much higher scores, and worse, were actually HARDER than they are now (I suspect she knows something about this, for various reasons). She also offered a few theories asto why the system seems to be disintegrating. One of which is that, after the riots in the 80s (and it had probably already been building by that time), teachers realized they had little power over their students, and students realized they had quite a bit of power over themselves AND the teachers. This definitely changed the way classrooms behaved (and as anyone in my generation can attest to, it's generally crap). If a few kids misbehave in a class of 30-40, the learning process is disrupted, if only because the teacher has to spend time just getting those few kids to sit down and shut up (which leads to more crap, like apathy). Then there are parents who get involved to the point of interfering...and political correctness...

Anywho, money is only one of several big issues in schools. And, unfortunately, our goverment isn't doing anything to change any of those problems, despite urging and offers of help from a number of prominent citizens. But then, it isn't a very effiecent gov, is it?

But anyway...I left high school due to those very reasons. Between apathetic teachers, people who shouldn't have been teaching at all, crappy courses, and students who insisted on interrupting every five seconds, I got sick of it. Started homeschooling through TTU. By that time, it was leave or become too frustrated to deal with people on a daily basis. ^_^ My only highlight was my Pre-AP Biology class where the teacher was just...great! She encouraged discussion, insisted we think for ourselves, and made the work difficult! >:P And, strangely, that's really the only class I can recall anything of. Or maybe not so strangely.

I think online classes are only benefitial to those who think they'll need a lot of help, or if they know the professor will be there often (I came across an article once about how to choose the right online classes and courses).

As for my short bout with distance learning...It was a bit of a failure. I made a B in Geometry, and only got half through Algebra II before I had to find a tutor (my mentor's son, who went to private school--which is where I'll be sending any kids I might have--dude explained it soooo well). I won't mention Physics. >:P I ran out of money, and time, before I get get my diploma. *sniffle* And, I'll have you know...if you think public school is bad, take a look at the GED test. I felt humiliated walking in there, just because I knew I had the potential to do better, and when I finally saw the tests...Well, I had around six months to finish them. They encouraged studying. In fact, they believed one would fail the tests without it. I um...didn't study. Not a whit. I had read a few things, and spoken to a few people, and basically the general consensus was that students that pass the GED test are often doing better than some h.s. graduates. That has to be a misconception, because I could've passed every test in 7th grade. I had two perfect scores, a near perfect one, and two that were on the very end of average (which I find shameful, though I know the reason on one test--I got pissy and didn't feel like putting effort into the essay, rotfl).

Which brings to mind something else...they teach writing in a really odd way. The whole paragraph and essay construction? Perfectly AWFUL. It's alright for younger students who are just beginning to learn, but high school? I actually had an AP teacher teach that. If I sit down and write one of the "formulated" essays, it turns out looking like the most childish bit of drivel I've seen from myself. >:|

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