Monday, January 25, 2010

My Sad and Desperate Reflection

Strangely, I'm hoping this helps. If I can dump all this negativity onto the page, perhaps I can overcome the mental block I'm currently experiencing. I've already done 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer, had a good cry (scared the dog), had a rousing chase and play session with the dog, and I still feel stupid and useless and I don't know what to do.

I have a horrible class that until recently, I've been calling the Scary Tech Class. I decided that was part of what was giving me a negative attitude about the whole thing and decided I would stop doing that. It is an online web site development class. It uses a combination of a book which uses Notepad and a bit of deprecated code which we are not to use. It has a software program which, until this semester, I have been unable to download and install on my computer. (Was finally able to do it on my husband's new desktop, necessitated by the big Hard Drive Crash of '09. Long story.) We have the new version of the Web development software, but the training DVDs are geared to the previous version. (I have dropped the class twice before. Once for not such great reasons and the second time because I had to have my (oft-discussed on this blog) surgery.

There are two projects a week and last week, I thought I got at least one of them, but the professor sent back a bunch of corrections. I made a couple, but I'm not comprehending a couple of them. For people who know this stuff, it's not that complicated and would be embarrassing if anyone who knows what's going on saw what the problem was. I ended up getting 0 credit last week even though I worked hard. Now I am probably going to get 0 credit this week too. This means that if I do everything else perfectly (not likely) the best I can end up with is a B.

This is the last class I need to get my Master's. I have been at this for three years. I have established a very nice GPA--not perfect--but something I'm pleased and proud of. I feel I genuinely worked for it, and now this class might keep me from graduating. When I shared a few family and personal problems (primarily health-related) that are going on right now, the professor suggested I might want to drop the class and try this or a different tech class in the Spring/Summer. My husband and I both decided against that because of my two previous drops and we both really want me to be done. Today would have been the last day to drop with a full tuition refund (minus the registration fee, as always).

It's not so much the projects themselves, but I have to submit them via these links on the web site and I can't get them right. In addition to the file and folder naming and placing issues I have, it's not helping that on the lecture videos, the professor's screen is somewhat different from mine (Previous version? I'm not sure.) One problem is I'm not sure what "translates." I don't have an intuitive sense of this, and in these situations, even when I think I do, I'm wrong.

Another thing that's getting to me is a few classmates have made their sites available, and while they vary in quality and complexity, they seem to be "getting it" and I will be two weeks behind tomorrow if this situation continues. That is one thing I hate about online classes (even though I like some onlike classes). In a regular class, even if I end up doing well, if I start out slow I can usually meet a kindred spirit befuddled as I am. I have even had this happen when I've had one online class and one face-to-face class. There will usually be someone taking the same classes with whom I can compare war stories. The ones who are getting it are posting, and the ones like me are lying low. Well, of course, I also have little to post. It just feels so lonely.

I'm mad at myself, too, because I had an offer of help this past weekend from someone who has done this for a living, but I thought I could get it myself; I did not. One of the issues is I feel bad imposing on someone's professional skills, and the other was it was just an awkward weekend. It was my son's birthday and we were taking him out, and it was my first chance to visit a relative in the hospital since she had surgery (I was there that day) and she had been moved from the neuro ICU. I tried to contact him tonight but haven't received a message back.

This is not like a writing assignment in which I can dump a bunch of stuff on a page, then organize and revise it. It has to be done just so, and if it isn't, I can't do the rest of it. I'm stuck, stuck, stuck, and I stare at my screen and re-watch the videos and re-read the book chapters and...nothing. I really need to be taught this stuff in person, but all the tech classes in my program are online now.

Well, back to the salt mines. Wish me luck. I sure as hell need it.

4 comments:

dkwatson said...

Oh, how frustrating! I'm sorry. This seems like a very annoying way to have to learn technical things, because it's relying on you already being a technical person to even turn in an assignment, let alone understand it. I hope you hear back from the person who could help teach you in person. If you think there's any way I could help, even though it would still be online, let me know.

Mary said...

Thanks, Dana, both for the empathy and the offer of help. I did hear back today from my friend who offered help. I called him & left a message & said no hurry at this point (I missed the assignment and am down to B) but if we could get together in the next couple of days, I would appreciate it.

I decided no matter what happens grade-wise (I'm still going to try to pass), I paid for the class and can't get a refund now. Therefore I'm getting every lecture and all the assignment feedback (if I ever manage to get one in) that I have coming to me.

That way, if I am able to repeat the class (not sure what the policy is on that), I'll at least be going in with prior knowledge that I lack now. If I had dropped the class, I'd just have to start out again at the point I'm at now.

And yeah... I never really understood the concept of putting all the tech classes online. I have become very curious about technology pedagogy. It seems largely based on hazing to me at this point.

dkwatson said...

I actually know a CS prof at Grinnell who is very interested in why the male:female ratio in CS is so skewed, and I've had conversations with him about how tech-y classes are traditionally taught in a style that appeals much better to stereotypical male thought patterns. But those were programming classes we were talking about; for a class like yours, which I assume is actually meant to be teaching tech-y stuff to non-tech-y people, it just doesn't make any sense to try to teach in a "traditional" manner. In any case, it's a big issue in the field overall right now.

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