Thursday, June 20, 2013

Treat adults like adults - questioning old school academia


stack of booksThe hubs is hitting the books again, prepping for a new level in his chosen career in the EMS field. On other occasions he's chosen the traditional route of sitting in a class room, taking quizzes and exams monitored by the instructor with the expectation that he must achieve a minimum grade before being allowed to begin clinical rotations.

However, for various reasons, traditional methods of schooling wouldn't work this time. We needed his classes done by a certain date and there's no way in hell he can take off from work to attend courses. Even classes on nights and weekends don't work for someone who works two twenty-four shifts per week, which occur on different days of the week throughout the month. This time he decided to check out his distance learning options and found one that was perfect in terms of flexibility, timetable and ability to finance the tuition. To my surprise, some of his colleagues were outraged.

"Taking quizzes and tests online is bullshit," one said. "You could cheat your way through the whole course. I had to know my stuff or I would fail out."

Okay, sure. DH could look up the answers while he's taking an online exam. But since he still has to complete a rigorous psychomotor portion of the class--during which he must demonstrate he can perform all the skills he's been studying and then complete clinical rotations and then after that must still pass the national registry exam what's the advantage of cheating during the academic portion? The only person DH would hurt is himself. Seems to me what distance learning does is treat responsible adults like responsible adults.

Then I started wondering about the entire system of college and post-college level academia. Should adults be treated with the same "teacher is watching" system that my nine-year-old is? Should it be necessary? And is some of the resistance to legitimizing distance learning the attitude of, "I suffered through the old system so everyone else should too."?

Personally I'm glad new options are becoming available, especially for the working adult for whom traditional learning is an impossibility. Is distance learning the wave of the future? I don't know. Have these newer online systems been perfected yet? Nope. But one thing I do know is nothing is constant in life except change and I for one am keeping an open mind.

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