Bummer

Well, I am frustrated (again) with my WGU course. This new class, TAT2: Technology Production is super aggravating. Apparently the course is being “updated”, and it’s well, garbage. Here are some examples:

  • Course materials state that students will evaluate 8 technology items. Nope. It’s 5, from which you select 3.
  • The idea behind the course is that you take a previously written lesson plan and add appropriate technology, however, the rubric is unclear. It asks you to add all three “The … modifications integrate all 3 tools or resources from part A4 into each lesson plan.” This makes no sense, of course, because technology doesn’t necessarily fit into each lesson plan appropriately. I had to put a post in Course Chatter for clarification.
  • The rubric says, “The lesson plan modifications fill the 710-hour scope of the product” 710 hours of instruction? Come on. They mean 7 to 10, however in all the other places its referred to as 8-10 hours of instruction. Annoying.
  • All of the links on the rubric that are supposed to go directly to the related material in the course are broken. This means you can’t get any information about the assignment from the course materials.
  • The “course materials” are just a list of links, same as in TET1. It’s idiotic. As I pointed out earlier, the materials don’t correspond to the rubric, so you don’t know which items to pay attention to or not.
  • The first email from the course instructor references a previous version of the course, which provided outlines for two papers to be written in Task 2. Now you just write one paper, and no templates are provided. Obnoxious.
  • Because the email said there were templates, I looked for them on the Course Tips page. When I couldn’t find them, I went to one of the blogs where people are sharing templates and grabbed one. It turned out that the course has changed enough that the original template did not help. I had written about an extra page and a half of work, irritatingly, but I cut out the junk, fixed my headers to match the rubric, and cancelled my original submission. I resubmitted and it still says it’s attempt 1 even though I made three changes, so that’s good news.
  • The rubric asks for a discussion of “technology reference tools”, however this term is not used in any of the course materials or in any of the linked texts. Not once.
  • In my course of instruction, there is literally no place where I can drop in a dictionary or encylopedia and have it make sense. So if the evaluator is a prick I’m going to fail even though I have provided justification for why I can’t complete that part of the task.
  • One of my technologies is a CMS. It’s the delivery tool for the instructional package and it can’t be shown as implemented in any of the lesson plans. If my evaluator is a prick, I’ll fail.
403s for broken links from the rubric to course material
TAT2s porrly written instructions. I didn’t bother with screen caps of the rubric.

The most aggravating part of all this is that this is part of a Master’s program in INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN, specializing in the use of technology to aid in learning. Yes, this garbage is coming from people who actually have degrees in designing course materials. It’s shocking. I’d be embarrassed if I were part of the team developing this stuff. So far only one class has been decent. All the rest have been a joke.

In other news, I passed TET1, first try on all the papers. I know that the evaluators are just filling in a copy/paste type format for the feedback on the papers, but I like reading it anyway:

  • Task 1: Ethics – “A well-written description of safeguard measures against three different threats is included in the submission. An appropriate identification of the audience of 26 untrained religious instruction teachers in an online learning environment is included. Three threats, hacking, denial of service attacks, and spam were competently discussed including measures to safeguard against such threats. Effective practices and procedures such as not using real names, monitoring for spam, and securing servers are discussed. Methods for establishing expectations include sharing rules about acceptable posts and not revealing personal information are effectively included. A well-designed product clearly communicates guidelines for safeguarding the technology resources ad summarizes the discussions in the essay. The product incorporates effective design elements that accurately communicate the technology use guidelines.” (My survey references 26% of 68 respondents — so yeah, not the best work here, evaluator person.”)
  • Task 2: Privacy – “This interesting survey identifies and discusses ethical and legal reasons for maintaining confidentiality in an educational setting where online courses will be delivered. Avoiding embarrassment and harassment or harm are identified as the ethical reasons for maintaining privacy. FERPA and the Personal Information Privacy Act are identified as the legal reasons. The systems administrator for maintaining the network and software for online course is interviewed for this submission.”
  • Task 3: Technology Evaluation – “The contents of the two evaluation tools are thoughtfully described and a single tool is appropriately completed in the analysis of Canvas. The findings, such as Canvas is easy to use, are aligned to the tool and a logical recommendation for the purchase of Canvas is made.” (I did not argue for buying canvas, but for installing it. Whatever.)
  • Task 4: Special Populations – “Online courses, YouTube, and Canvas are identified and thoroughly described as three technology resources that can be implemented for different groups of students. Also, three forms of technology appropriate for accelerated learners (videos, online guides, and online practice tests) and bilingual learners (such as online translators) are shared and explained. A sound process for choosing software, that involves avoiding gender stereotyping, is clearly outlined.” (I argued that my course isn’t applicable for bilingual students, but I did mention online translators to show I knew what they were and how to use them.)

I submitted all these papers within 5 minutes of each other. Task Two was evaluated first — just 6 hours after submission, followed by three and four and finally Task One. Task One was evaluated almost 48 hours after I submitted it. It took me about 6 or 7 hours to complete TET1. I had a hard time getting motivated to work on this course, but in the end it wasn’t terribly challenging. My least favorite part was creating the “product”, which for me was a brochure about securing network systems from cyber attack. You’d think I’d have enjoyed that more, but it was just busy work. When does a teacher have a need to make a brochure on technology? Never. Therefore, fluff.

So far I’ve spent about 12 hours on TAT2, and I have not yet begun Task Three. I am waiting to see if Tasks One and Two pass before I begin building out my website and instructor’s manual. Once this course is complete I will have finished the first two semesters of the program. If we weren’t going out of town for six days next week, I’d be able to finish TAT2 completely, and I’d have the first two semesters finished in a month. I’m working hard, but it’s aggravating that the materials are so bad, considering the topic. I just can’t understand it.

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About Jenny Smith

I'm Jenny Smith. I keep up with three cars, two kids, one husband, and I live on 300+ acres of rolling farmland in Northern Virginia where we look after an elderly relative. I like tomatoes, all things Star Trek, watercolor, and reading. I spend most days in the garden fighting deer and groundhogs as I pursue a graduate degree. I'm trying to be like Jesus -- emphasis on the trying.
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