4 September 2018
Social media pseudo-experiments have uncovered that students at UCCS are retaining information at a faster rate than anywhere else in the country. To keep up with the quickly developing minds, the university has presented the latest in learning technology: the eight day semester!
Now, students can receive an entire semester’s worth of information in a matter of days. Fear not, the shortened length of the courses won’t cause you to lose out on the college experience; on the contrary, students can still pay full price for tuition and books.
What’s the catch? There is none. In fact, this style of course has proven to enhance student’s ability to memorize information for an exam and then completely forget it, freeing up substantial brain space. You may even walk away having learned nothing at all!
If this sounds like a joke—that’s because it just might be.
Way back in high school, I used to dream about how different college would be; I thought I would be surrounded by enlightened individuals ready and eager to absorb knowledge. To an extent, I have not been disappointed; however, my experience this fall with the pre-semester intensive course has been incredibly dissatisfying and left me underwhelmed. I experienced a “memorize and dump-it” learning culture that didn’t challenge students but deprecated the course content.
To be fair, I’ve never been a big fan of online learning. I’ve personally found the most success in an interactive classroom environment. I do believe, however, that online classes can be equally as informative when kept organized and taught with enthusiasm.
The pre-semester intensive course covered a wide range of topics, and left little room for critical thinking and discussion in each area.
For me, the class went like this: every night I was assigned up to 40 pages of reading, a few slides of lecture material and only had to write a short post with two comments to the discussion thread. Additionally, the class required three 200 word responses over the shortened semester.
It sounds easy, because it very much was.
The class didn’t challenge me the way a college course should; I felt cheated. I spent the same amount of money I would spend for more beneficial courses, and ultimately felt like I walked away with significantly less.
That being said, this course also had several functional issues that further exacerbated the experience.
For one, the lectures that the professor posted on canvas were only compatible with apple computers, making it impossible for me—a loyal Windows user—to get the information most of the time. When I emailed my professor about the issue, I never heard back. This added a new obstacle for my ability to learn; I was unable to have an identity or a relationship with the professor in only eight short days.
Also, the final was cumulative with over eight chapters of reading, and included very specific questions from each section. The timed exam did not seem to reflect the major content presented in the course, nor did it accurately depict my abilities as a student.
All in all, if you find yourself considering a pre-semester or pre-term course, I would highly suggest evaluating your expectations of what you want to gain from a college level class.
If you are in it only for the grade—I say go for it. But if you hope to walk away from the class with more knowledge than you had before you pledged tuition, I could not recommend it.