I recently went back to school to further my career. With family, work, and a new baby to take care of I have a pretty full schedule. I decided I would look into online schools due to their convenience for people with busy schedules. I must say I am disappointed. When looking into schools I wanted to go somewhere I could build off of my AA ( I have an AA in Fashion Design from FIDM). When searching online schools I came across a few that pertains to my field. The school I decided to go to (which shall remain unnamed for this article) brings you in by focusing on the “active learning community”. Basically, there is a lot of reading, you post your assignments to a message board and other students critique your work. MOST of the students that I go to school with cannot write beyond an 8th grade level.
When I review my fellow students work, I tend to play the devil’s advocate. I question areas that I feel they have not thought through all the way, and I correct not just on content, but also on grammar and punctuation. My reasoning behind this is these students are trying to get into a career that is highly competitive. There are lines of people waiting for a chance to get a job. They need to sharpen their skills in order to survive in such an intense, fast paced industry.
Apparently, I am too harsh. I received an e-mail from my instructor to ask me to focus on the positive when I critique their work. Like most good managers, I tend to use the “sandwich” method when I critique. First, I tell them what I like, followed by what I think they should look at further, and end with a compliment. This makes it easier to digest the criticism. Apparently this is not good enough. This particular instructor also does not provide constructive criticism to students work. It seems that regardless of the level of work her response is always “good job!” or “This is an amazing assignment!” She writes these comments even if the assignment was so poorly written that you cannot understand what the student is talking about!
My disgust with the online school is this: According to the school’s policy we have to give x number of critiques for each assignment, and we have to participate in any classroom discussions. The critiques and discussion postings must be more than “good job!” or “I agree”. In order for your participation to count, you must provide more information such as stating why you like the students work, or why you agree with them. So, according to the school’s policy I am participating the way I am supposed to. Now, a few students complain that I am a bit harsh in my reviews and I have to focus on the positive? I am asked to give reviews similar to the instructor because according to her they are “softer-skinned”?!?!?!? What good does this instructor think she is doing? Honestly. These students are trying to get into a career that is very intense, and very competitive. They need to be challenged. Isn’t school supposed to help prepare you for the private sector? So, how is it “helping” students when you constantly tell them good job? Especially when their writing is so horrible that they wouldn’t be able to get or hold a job in this industry anyway? Shouldn’t we push them a little harder, sharpen their skills and prepare them for the real world? If this is what I should expect than why is the school regionally accredited? What is the real value behind my education? Is it all just a farse?