bigmog: (Default)
I missed all of September blogging so it's time once again to condense it all down into one post.

Fall semester is underway and it's going well. While the material is always engaging, the way it is taught is inconsistent with each instructor. This semester I'm taking two class each with a very different instructor. One is difficult to reach with the class all taught through readings and youtube videos. The other is more hands on and use live WebEx sessions to engage with the class. What is startling is just how many questions students have related to logistics of the class.

For example, questions about due dates, how to turn in assignments, which file format to use, which program or technology to use, and what the requirements are. I'm certain that both of these courses have been taught a number of times already and this isn't the first time these types of questions have been asked. Both instructors seem a bit frustrated by these questions so why aren't they answered in a FAQ or the syllabus already?

Another example: The coursework is all online including quizzes. Only one professor has used the technology to make his or her job simpler. If a quiz is well written and uses multiple choice, then it is graded automatically as soon as the quiz is finished. Still, some professor write quizzes with some write in answers. The multiple choices answers are graded but then someone (the TA) has to manually grade every quiz.

As much as I dislike Java, the teacher was excellent and used lots of great technology to review code and automatically give feedback on error or other missing requirements. That was a well designed course because of that.

Well, what good does writing all this here do? I give this same to the program directors but little is done about it. They promise to use my input to improve the classes but it's too late for me and I'll never know if they really do either. And this is the #2 ranked online Masters of IT program. I can only image how bad others must be.

I ranted a bit there so I'll save the good stuff for the next post. It won't take a month I promise.

Semester 1

May. 7th, 2017 06:41 pm
bigmog: (Default)
I've just finished my first semester as a graduate student at Virginia Tech. Some thoughts so far:

The school itself is way big but online students are just a small part of the student population. They attempt to treat both types of students equally which can backfire.

A student ID can only be issued on the campus and they won't mail it so I have no easy means of proving that I'm a student. Although I do get a .edu email address which is occasionally useful for discounts.

Once or twice I got an email inviting me to attend an event that was only local on campus. I notified that the organizer that such emails made me feel excluded and that they shouldn't email remote students with such events.

The top moron award goes to the IT help desk that tried to call me at 6am for input on a ticket that I had submit. They assume that everyone must be on Eastern time despite my phone number clearly being from a Colorado area code. I raised hell on this mistake and I'm not done either.

I took two courses: Fundamentals of Computer Science and E-commerce.

The computer science course was super interesting and I challenged me to learn a lot about how computers work. The instructor, while certainly knowledgeable, struggled in using technology like WebEx for her lectures. She would have benefited from some capable teacher's assistants.

TA's are the real work horses in academia. In the other class, the instructor only did the first meeting and they left all the rest to his TA. Now, this TA was excellent but why isn't the instructor more involved? I'll raise this question with my advisor.

That course wasn't nearly as interesting perhaps because I've been a web developer in a previous career. The technical aspects of running an e-commerce site were reduced to configuring a hosted WordPress. Yawn. Sure WordPress is super popular and could be worth knowing but not very challenging.

Now I'm nervously awaiting my final grades. In order to have my tuition reimbursed by work, I need a 3.0 or higher. I kept up on the homework and projects throughout the semester so I'm hoping that will offset my poor scores in the final exams.

Fast & Slow

Feb. 1st, 2017 10:36 am
bigmog: (moogle mog)
My first semester as a grad student is underway. Getting a good start is important to me so I'm being diligent about the reading, writing and other assignments. I suppose you should expect a reduction in blog posts as a result.
bigmog: (moogle mog)
Ahead of my advanced education, I took a level 100 course in programming at the local community college. Fortunately, the language taught was python and not java. I enjoyed the class and did well enough to get an A. Programming is interesting and fun as a hobby. Coding as a profession however I cannot suffer.

The community college adviser called me and ask why I hadn't yet enrolled for any spring courses. Of course I have. Just not there. I've been accepted to Virginia Tech and start an online graduate program in the spring.

That leaves just a few weeks to finish up any leisure reading for the next 2+ years. After that, I expect to have very little social life. Not much of a loss to me.

October 2017

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