Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How Much Do I Hate On-Line Learning?

A lot. I hate on-line learning with the intensity of a double sun. A very lot.

I was asked to be on this committee. The asker told me that it's an easy committee, just meet a couple times a year. There's pizza involved, she said. And so I said yes. Saying yes, I need to learn, is always a mistake, even when there's pizza involved.

After I said yes, I got a phone call, and again, was told there's pizza, and only a couple of meetings a year. So I said yes. That time, the person who called me, strangely enough, grew up and went to a high school about ten miles from where I did, in the suburbs of a big city. Again, I need to learn how to not say yes.

Then I got an email from an assistant in charge of some stuff, because over there, they have assistants in charge of some stuff. The email said, you need to fill out these forms, and do these trainings, and you can find it here on our course website thingy.

And so the other day, I started in, with some tiny bit of resentment.

One of the trainings needs to be done through the flagship university, but I need to email, and then send them stuff to prove I'm who I say I am, and then they'll send me a code thing so I can go in and learn stuff. I obviously waited too long to start, and so I won't have that finished by the meeting today. But what are they going to do, kick me off the committee? (I should be so lucky.)

One of the trainings, let's call it the outside group training, I needed to type in a LONG url from a pdf to get to the training and such. I typed, but working from a pdf, I couldn't tell a zero from the letter O, and so I never got it. I emailed, and the assistant sent me a link, which didn't work. I emailed again, and the assitant told me how to find it within the site. That would have worked the first time. So I spent an hour or so yesterday, reading the stuff in little modules. It's a tremendously inefficient way for me to learn, reading little modules on a web site. If it were really important, I'd need to take notes, and it would be hard from a little module. It would be helpful to have this in a little booklet; here, the booklet could say, read me, make notes in the margin, and then keep me to refer to if you have questions. But no, I read on the module. But I was at home, and in order to prove that I've taken and passed the test, I needed to be able to print it out, and I don't have a printer at home, so I had to wait to take the test until I was in the office.

I took the test this morning. I opened two browsers, and referred when necessary to the second browser to look things up. That's not learning, that's just filling in web bubbles. But it took a good half hour to fill in those bubbles. I passed, and made my print out. And didn't learn much in the process.

Then I went to find ome of the other things I'm supposed to learn. One of them is a massive pdf, which shows up sideways on my screen (and I couldn't figure out how to make it not sideways because I'm a computer idiot). I tried twisting my head, but then the direction changed, so instead I printed it out. I have several pages now with six BIG words. Again, a little booklet or two page thingy would have been way more efficient and effective.

Then I went to find another learning module thing. I looked all over the site, and couldn't find it. I emailed, and the assistant said to look under "training" but there's nothing on the site labeled "training." I emailed again, and she said maybe I hadn't been given access to that, and emailed me a big powerpoint file. Again, I have MASSIVE words, six to a page. Is this really an effective way to learn for anyone? Really?

Because now, I'm going to have to click through, and then take another stupid clicky test where I'll keep the powerpoint open in front of me and then fill out the test on paper (because I can't get at the non-paper version).

And I wonder, is this what things are like for students who take on-line courses? Do they have as much trouble accessing stuff, and have to twist their heads around, and waste paper with six words on a page if they print it out?

I wonder that as someone who does put pdfs in a campus course site for students. But I darned well make sure those pdfs open on my home computer, and I don't make students run all the hell over.

Am I just an old cranky codger who wants to read sentences rather than six words bulleted on a powerpoint? Is that sort of presentation actually effective for other people? How can it be effective if there aren't the logical relationships structured by subjects and verbs and sentences?

/Cranky off


  1. No! You're not cranky! You have reasonable expectations.

    "Saying yes, I need to learn, is always a mistake, even when there's pizza involved." = my new mantra

  2. god... I'm so glad that I got through school before "online learning" really took off. I couldn't learn that way. Everything I read on a computer is ephemera, and I would look at a class in much the same way. It's depressing thinking that online classes are the wave of the future.

    My hubby was doing an online MFA at Academy of Arts University in SF, and he hated it. He would much rather have gone to class, but it wasn't convenient. He felt like he spent six times more time on the classes because of the technology hang ups, though. And when you're working full-time and completing an MFA, you need to be much more efficient than that. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.