Education Rants

Online Coursework Sucks*

I have a love/hate relationship with online coursework, especially college. I love it because it frees up time that could otherwise be wrapped up in potentially boring classroom lecturing, travel or administrivia. Additionally, it allows you to digitally access resources without having to fumble with paper and other physical assets. On the other hand; For many classes, teachers put the minium effort into them. Not that this can’t happen in a physical setting, but at least there they have to dress up and show up. Also, you don’t get any personal interaction with anyone. The other classmates posting in discussion boards may as well be bots; Faceless names with randomly generated text.

All of these are the reasons that I primarily pick courses around my physical availability. If I’m paying premium for education, I want my ass in a physical location being taught be an actual human being who has to at least show up. However, things are changing with education that are pushing some colleges to look at being more online.

COVID Online Coursework

COVID-19. The big ugly mess of late 2019 and most of 2020 so far. As far as schools go, it has thrown pretty much all of them into a tizzy. My son’s school system had to basically throw together a whole online education system wrapped around Microsoft Teams (angst aside, they’re doing pretty well with that, I have to say). For my college courses, I had to end this semester with online coursework, which sucks. It gets out of sight and out of mind quickly. I feel less involved and the course work just feels like a chore.

I know some colleges offer only online courses. I actually “attended” Phoenix University for a semester. While the work was easy enough, I was getting exactly nothing out of it. Most classes just required you check in by posting something to the discussion board. I feel like we’re moving the needle in that direction with all this distance learning being spun up.

The push to move more online also feels like a cop out in a system already looking for more ways to water down the experience for the most money. Colleges are rife with adjuncts who could care less about teaching, so long as they get some side work. Course materials are skyrocketing and classrooms are left with second-hand tech that is run by overworked IT people just trying to keep their Rube-Goldberg machine running until the end of the semester.

Look: I like college. For a lot of people it’s a great avenue to get the knowledge to work in any number of fields. However, I don’t find that I’m getting a lot out of it. I learn by doing. Going online is just going to make the rest of this Bachelor’s degree a slog.

*: For me.


Reading Time

Since video games can only sustain my entertainment for so long (yes, really). I am digging into my collection of digital and physical books to see if I can either entertain myself, or learn something new. Up on the docket is: The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde), Permanent Record (Edward Snowden) and Automate the Boring Stuff with Python (Al Sweigart).

I used to be quite a voracious reader, when I was younger. With games (video, card, board, etc), I became less of a reader. I still read technical stuff, but I find fiction hard to stomach, sometimes. I have a poor tolerance for crappy content. When I do want to read fiction, I often look for reviews because I really don’t want to waste my time. Kind of snobbish, I know, but I’m not going to apologize for who I am.

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is the reason for all of this, I think people should take this as an opportunity to improve on their own skills. While that can be hard in certain cases, it doesn’t have to be an immediately useful skill. Even just reading or writing can help with your ability to communicate.

Stay safe, everyone.

Awesome Education

Make a Pillow Fort for Your Podcasts

Don Gonyea with the Student Podcast Challenge have distributed some excellent tips on how to make your podcasts sound great, even if you don’t have an expensive sound-proof studio. These tips are great advice for those of us who are terrible at being audio engineers. While I may not be recording podcasts, I love reading tips on how to do things without spending a fortune.

These tips come from correspondents and audio engineers who are often not in a studio, or a place that can accommodate favorable recording conditions. Obviously good equipment helps with this, but making the environment more favorable can make mediocre equipment work better and give you surprising results.

Any other tips for recording audio?

Education Misc

The Mile

I catch a lot of crap from people I know for trying to learn and use the metric measurement system (as well as the Celsius scale, for temperature). Despite most of the known world using it, and science using it exclusively, it’s hard to change the opinion of hundreds of years of Imperial measurement being drummed into our heads, as Americans.

Recently, I came across a short article about the history of why the mile is an awkward 5,280 feet, versus the easily convertible 1000 meters to a kilometer. The article keeps on giving, though, with different measurements, like the Nautical Mile and the Pound. Much of what we know (at least, again, here in America) for measurements is based on arbitrary and generally inaccurate measurements of a given area or volume. Some of these measurements are hundreds, if not thousands of years old. The history, however, is fascinating.

I’m going to keep on learning how to Metric and Celsius, despite it all. I find they’re much easier to identify and convert between. I do, however, find myself converting to miles or Fahrenheit for family and friends frequently, though. It’s and uphill battle, but I just have to take it one step at a time.

Education Rants

FSCJ Incompetence

I am an FCSJ Alumni. A proud one, at that. I graduated in 2017 with an Associates in Networking Systems, and I have since started a Bachelor’s degree program to further my education. Until today, I haven’t had any major problems worth mentioning.

This year was much different. I was sure I had done everything in my power to enroll correctly, as I had no items blocking and I had done things early. The problems, however, started shortly after I did my FASFA.

The first red flag that popped up was that my FASFA award took two months to process. I actually had to submit a help ticket to get it processed properly, despite their protestations that it would only take “9-10 business days”. After that, I was able to accept my award and choose the amount that I would need for classes and books. One hurdle cleared.

I then was able to successfully register for classes. I chose the two that I needed and registered without a hitch. It even showed the cost of my classes and that there was an award amount that would more than cover the cost. After that, I was golden. I didn’t have any items left on hold or in my “to do” list in the student portal.

Monday of this week, I even attended my first class of the semester, Florida History, with no problems. I even had access to the class in Canvas, the LMS. The school season was beginning again and I was well on my way.

That is until last night. I logged in and was presented with a new “to do” item. FSCJ, an organization that has not only given me a degree, a certification and hundreds of hours of class time both online and in-person, suddenly didn’t have my high school transcript.

Let me just take a moment to make something explicitly clear: I haven’t been in high school for 18 years. I graduated, did my time in the corporate world, decided to go to college to further my career and had no problems getting my transcript sent in. Not only that, but I’ve spent almost a decade attending FSCJ in my off-hours while working to do so. The fact that they suddenly need my High School transcript in the middle of my Bachelors degree program is… suspicious.

So, I did what I was supposed to do. I entered a ticket. I didn’t hear anything back, so I called them. I was told that I was dropped due to non-payment of classes (despite having financial aid award money). To top it all off. Not only do I have to get my transcript submitted, but I also have to, effectively, beg the department heads to reinstate my classes because I was dropped due to their incompetence.

What. The. Actual. Fuck.

So, I’m a good little soldier. I’m resubmitting all the paperwork. However, I’ll be letting them know how unbelievably mad I am at this incredible incompetence. Honestly, they should comp my classes at this point. I shouldn’t have to beg to get back into the classes I was already signed up for, just because some one fucked up.