Neither amazing nor horrible
One should appreciate the chance to rate and criticize the class that he attends. Not all professors care, and that should not come as a surprise at all. The students in the class can be a good example of democracy – people do not really know what they want. This does not in any way mean that democracy is bad, it just means that when you asked the majority of the students on “how a certain class could be improved, what “rights” do they want, and how they’d like to proceed with this class”, they’d shrug their shoulders and say they didn’t know or didn’t care.
To criticize the overall aspect of this class is impossible. All parts combined, it was neither amazing nor horrible. There were some extremely well thought up parts of the class, and some that should have been brain stormed a bit longer, specifically taking into the account the student’s indifference to do any kind of work during this covid pandemic. With that said, I’ll analyze what made this class superb at certain times, yet made many dread the thought of doing it at others.
The site design was done extremely well. I’d definitely say that this was one of the strongest points of this class. It was extremely easy to navigate, and with a simple scroll, we could reach the weekly required task in a matter of seconds. I very much enjoyed using the Textpattern to write my posts, even though I know that most students would never even throw a glance at them. It is a somewhat easy way to do our required class work, but it’s definitely not my preferred way of doing it. Personally, I think sending word documents via a certain platform (whether it’s sending it via mail or uploading it to Moodle) is the simplest one. But I am also fully aware that nobody should be bothered to read hundreds of emails and then bother to reply to them to give the necessary feedback. The overall concept of the website is an exceptional idea. If I were to become a professor, I wouldn’t mind adopting it as a way to give out homework as well.
However, the worst part of the class was definitely the Forum. I found it extremely confusing and failed to post anything in it. A forced interaction and participation in the forum amounts to nothing. I haven’t been able to discuss anything meaningful with my colleagues there and to be completely honest, I haven’t even tried. Whenever I needed something elaborated, I would call via phone, ask via text messages or ask via some other platform. It was quicker, easier and overall much more enjoyable than any experience the forum could have offered. The rules of the forum were simply and extremely easy to understand, that however does not change the fact that the forum itself seems like a hindrance and an obstacle to getting a good grade.
The assignments were another great part of the class. They were easy to understand and did not require a lot of time to be finished. They might have been a bit too easy, but I don’t think that should change. Overall, knowing that the assignments were not too difficult to do, students were more motivated to do them. They were engaging, meaning that to finish it, one should have done one of these two things: knew something about the topic before or learn something new about it. My favourite part was about our privacy. As some might have figured it out from my post, I am a huge fan of Edward Snowden – I think his case shows that there is a huge systematic injustice in the U.S. courts depending on the crime of course, but that is a topic for another time.
When we’re talking about course objectives, I think they were well thought up. Personally, I don’t think I needed any sort of introduction for the 21st century skills. I actively participate on a forum called “Quora” and read there every day. It is one of my main sources of entertainment. I take no information there for granted, however, as I realize that most of the answers are at least somewhat biased, but that is only human after all, and it gives me my homework to read outside of it as well. The course objectives are clear and easy to understand, and I can see how it will benefit almost every student here.
When it comes to reading material, I have no complaints at all. I have no advice to share, and nothing to criticize. It was plentiful, the sources were good and the texts were interesting. What I have to admit, however, is that there was too much of it, and I haven’t read everything that was posted.
The videos were probably my favourite part of the class. I’ve always been somewhat of a computer nerd, and sitting back in my chair and listening to the videos without care was the best part. They were short and engaging. Anything longer than 45 minutes and it would have been too long, and none of them were that long with the exception of one that was a bit longer than that. The delivery and presentation were excellent. The only thing that drove me out of my mind is the white noise / static that could be heard in every video. I think this is extremely easy to fix however, if one has a decent microphone. If your headphones are plugged into your loudspeaker jack, this will often cause white noise. The headphones should usually be plugged into the computer case, into the sound card directly and if the noise persists, the soundcart should be replaced. Of course, there could be other problems that cause this as well, but this is the most common one. It is also one of the main reasons why new speakers have no headphones and microphone jack in them.
The overall course experience was amazing, with the exception of Forum, which I think should simply be removed or replaced by something else. It represents nothing but an external source of stress. For a forum to become productive, one must be willing to join because there is a common interest that connects him with other people that he can discuss the relevant topics with. However, all members of the forum are my colleagues and using the forum to discuss anything is tedious at best. The course was engaging, but I cannot say it was challenging. I think everyone should know at least something about these topics from out everyday life, even without this course.
And finally, I can’t really sort the topics according to relevance. My favourite ones were about privacy, that’s for certain. However there was no topic that felt irrelevant. Any topic that turns sheep into people and makes them understand the things around them is a good topic for me. Any topic that tries to sell me an already existing agenda or a political opinion and forces me to take it for granted should be discarded. Thankfully, there were no topics like that in the course. The only thing I was disappointed was that there was no mention of Edward Snowden when we talked about privacy. I think that was something of an extreme importance to mention. There are many videos online and his interviews where he openly speaks about our privacy and his crime (heroism).
When it comes to my own engagement, I think it was quite productive. I did almost all of my tasks, and I am happy that I attended this course. I was even smart enough to download the videos ahead of time and have them saved. I think that all of the reflection posts that I’ve written and contributed to were well thought up and decently written. When it comes to my engagement on the forum it was one huge ZERO. If the forum was a requirement for passing this course I would fail it without a blink, and I feel no shame in admitting it. I didn’t feel any need for writing glossaries either. Most of the things were already familiar to me, however I do have an open set of tabs on my computer that deal with this course, and I did need to look up some things from time to time and do my own reaserch I.E. about the gilded age. I also downloaded most of the reading material that I think that might be useful in my future.
All in all, I am very satisifed with the course, even though the course may not be satisfied with my engagement in it. One more improvement to the course that I think would be useful is if it could teach us how to choose our sources better and how to write without bias. It is sad that we haven’t learned that in our previous years and I think many students could use it. And finally, it would be great if this Textpattern had a spell check. It would make our lives a lot easier.