Monday, March 17, 2008

DeVry online courses not so crappy discussions

Part of my reason for blogging here was to document my courses and coursework at DeVry as I go for a Game and Simulation Programming degree. So far, with two classes down, and two A's, I haven't really been challenged. This first session of spring semester is different though, the teacher/professor has his shit together and is keen on my sluff tactics, calling me out in the the first week.

I suppose I should explain my sluff tactics, but first some background about how DeVry online courses work. First thing you must understand is that you have your class online. Well duh right, but in addition to the professor presenting a textual lecture and a recommended reading (from the book for the class), there is an online discussion component. This is where the prof asks questions and the class responds, all via. a crappy forum. In my DeVry experience thus far, the discussion portion of class has been a portion of the grade. The first response/post is required by wed, with a three post minimum per topic per week. Usually there is two topics, so a six post minimum to earn the discussion grade points for the week. Typically, or as my experience thus far has defined me, the questions are asked by professor and answered quickly by more astute students. What needs to be defined is that 20+ students chime in all pretty mush saying the same thing, and some poorly/incorrectly mind you. The professor's reactions are usually along the lines of "Good comments students, excellent! What about another question?" I won't get into a rant about how inane this discussion forum concept has been, instead I'll explain my sluff tactic.

My sluff tactic is to wait (not really wait, it just happens I'm lazy and/or late to the punch), read what others have said, and then regurgitate that information again in my own words. Fairly useless right? Right. This go around, the prof actually challenged the quality of my content and suggested I expand upon what others have said. I got a 15/20, a 75% discussion grade my first week. My first reaction was WTF? But really, the grade I got was generous and way more than I deserved considering my approach. Now I have a huge amount of respect for this prof, he's actually paying attention. This is what I need.

End of week though, after the other portions are graded (there is a weekly online quiz and a lab in addition to the discussion forum), my grade stands at 93%, dangerously close to a B! I should mention the class I'm in is a programming class: CIS-247, Object Oriented Programming with Lab.

I can only imagine, with a slight shudder, what the discussion forums for a math class must be like.

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