A couple of months ago I finished my first semester in a teaching certification program at a local college. It was my first time taking online classes, and it was an experience. I found that I don’t really like online courses, or at least not the way these were taught. There was no classroom instruction. Rather, we were given a series of assignments to complete, based on our readings or classroom observations (if we were in a practicum course).
I think the program would be much better if instructors taught via webinars and video presentations. Students could then call in to the webinar with questions, we’d still have the opportunity to be lectured to, and we’d be able to interact with our fellow classmates.
Also, the work was incredibly easy. All we had to do was turn in assignments and we’d pass the course. Maybe I’m used to harder material and harder teaching methods, having gone to a “top” university for undergrad. Or maybe this program just isn’t that challenging (and maybe that’s the way they want it).
More recently I ran into problems enrolling in one of the courses. It was a week into the course and apparently once you’ve missed that much it’s too difficult to catch up. I pleaded my case – that I needed this course now in order to complete the program on time (and other reasons), that I was confident I could (easily) pass the course despite missing that week, and that it should be up to the student to take that (fairly low) risk. But it was a no go, which annoys me.
In order to help me reach my goals, I was offered a chance to take some classes if I signed a form promising to pay back any federal financial aid I received should I not fulfill a minor requirement (even if I completed, passed, and paid for said classes using that financial aid). Luckily, contracts class in law school (and the red flags popping up all around), made me refuse to sign the questionable document. I likened it to signing a blank check.
On the bright side, I think I’ve found a feasible way to make up for lost time by taking a heavier courseload in the fall.
What’s interesting to me is how difficult it’s been to handle administrative things with this college, as opposed to undergrad and even law school. Perhaps it’s because it’s a small college. Or maybe times have changed since I’ve gone to school, and a college education is less about education and more about red tape. The last time I was in college was only about five years ago, though.
In any event, I‘ve learned a valuable lesson. If I want a higher education in this manner, I’ll have to take control of my own learning and anticipate the red tape ahead of time. Then I’ll be better prepared to argue my case when problems arise.
Have you taken classes at a small college? What about online classes? Has your experience been smooth sailing or rocky?