Monday, April 13, 2015

A Call for Online Course Reformation

To whom it concerns,

I firmly assert that the penny-pinching, similar course mass-producing ELI (Extended Learning Institute) with instructors as overseers rather than teachers and students as numbers on a spreadsheet, while necessary, is grossly mismanaged and probably underfunded.

* Interjection: please excuse the bi%&ing and moaning in this next paragraph and, if you only want to read about my opinions on the NOVA ELI program, skip to the third paragraph of this text.

I am currently finishing up my AA at NOVA and attempting to attain/retain a GPA of 3.8 or higher for certain honors. To wit, NOVA only requires a 3.8 for Summa Cum Laude. While my UVA application is already submitted and any perspective future employers will likely pay little attention to the honors from my NOVA AA, I feel that due to my absurdly good work-ethic and the ridiculous and non-quantifiable magnitude of my scholastic efforts thus-far, that I deserve the aforementioned "HighEST Honors," rather than simply Magna Cum Laude, or "High Honors."

As I struggle to keep up my GPA toward the end of my NOVA journey, my scholastic struggles are most arduous vis-a-vis my online, or ELI, courses. At present I am under the boot of English Literature 243 via the ELI program. While the syllabus is very straightforward and the instructor is both pleasant and attentive, the overall course grade, to my horror, is comprised of thirty percent writing and analysis (in which I am quite proficient) and seventy freaking percent exams. This is an English course! What the crap?! So, as I deal with tax season, financial aid red-tape, UVA admissions, life outside of academia (forgot that existed, anyone?), and other classes which include my dreaded Achilles' heel -- The evil demon of Math, as I am a Historian and a writer, not a mathematician or scientist...  I must avoid the tangent (or possibly entirely disjoint topic) of the Math and Science requirements for Liberal Arts students... Ugggh! Anyway, as I pour over all of that and more, I must concern myself with finding my way through the abysmal amalgamation of course material that I am expected to know in order to answer multiple choice questions in a testing center followed by two short essays of completely unknown topics. But, these issues are not mutually inclusive to this particular ELI course. As I have now, out of necessity, taken three ELI courses (including this ENG 243), which is four too many, I find myself pondering how and if NOVA's entire ELI system may be reformed. I have come to the conclusion that someone must pick up this sword. I cannot wield it, as my burden in other battlefields of academia is too great in both magnitude and intensity. Someone new to NOVA, a Freshman in any 2015 semester, must organize these and any other applicable issues as well as proposed solutions, begin a petition, attain signatures, and, finally, approach one of the Deans at a NOVA campus. 

Off the top of my head... 
Abolishing the ELI is counterproductive and impossible. The ELI, in-and-of-itself, is a wonderful concept, people need it, and the institution makes mooooooney. Therefore, I spitball the following ideas regarding reform:

ELIMINATE the Discussion Board requirements (keep them as optional, even if no one posts).

ELIMINATE HUGE weight on exams with little or no weight on other assignments.

DEMAND a certain minimum % value worth of extra credit options for any given ELI course.

That's all I have right now...

What do you think? Any reformation ideas?

Thanks for letting me vent,

P.J. Wordsmith

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