Yesterday was my first official day at University of The People. So far, the overall experience has been great, but there are a few issues that have occurred to me, as I begin my studies with the institution. Despite the issues, I still have warm feelings entering my courses.
To start with what’s been positive for me so far, I’d like to note that the responsiveness from my instructors has been timely thus far. I was a little worried coming into the program, knowing my instructors would be volunteers. But so far I’ve received feed back on my work, and have had any questions answered within 24 hours, as promised.
Another aspect that I though was awesome, is the available resources and syllabuses for all of the courses on the website. This can come in handy, because it will allow me to spend a little bit of time skimming through the course material for courses I plan to take in the upcoming terms.
The two courses that I was automatically registered for in this term, is a course called, Online Education Strategies, and another called, Globalization. The former is designed to get new students familiar with the learning environment, and the ins and outs of UoPeople. The course also covers the APA format of writing, and how to use it, and other skills that are going to be necessary for a student of UoPeople. This course is not optional, and is assigned to you on the first term of your enrollment regardless of the number of courses you decide to take (two by default).
My second course, Globalization, is required for an associates, or bachelors degree in Computer Science. It seems that all of my classmates are first timers like me in this course. I don’t know for sure if you can decide to take a different course for your first term or not, but it’s required eventually, so I didn’t bother looking into another option. I’ll have more freedom on my selection for my next term.
So far I’d say that the 15 hours/week for each course seems accurate. However I’ll probably push a little over this average this week as I’ve done a lot of extra reading, since I’m not familiar with the APA format of writing. There is a tone of information and links provided to you through the UoPeople Academic Advisory Office (AAVO), which becomes available as soon as your account is set up. My account was ready about a week before my courses began, giving me a chance to familiarize myself with UI.
Now for some downsides that have occurred to me since I started. First of all, it’s no lie that you need to have a strong background in the English language. More specifically reading the English language. My reading assignments, coupled with the extra resources has been pretty dense, and there is a lot of it. I like to think I’m a pretty fast reader, and my comprehension of materials are probably above satisfactory for my current level of education. But I couldn’t imagine if I was not able to read as well as I do.This school will be very challenging if your not used to reading dense academic materials, and have never practiced speed reading, or skimming text. I realize that other traditional institutions are going to require a similar level of reading, and writing, but keep in mind that UoPeople doesn’t offer the luxury of a professor explaining the course material in a classroom. You have to be good at teaching yourself.
Another issue, although not really an issue, but more of an insight is the potential for the peer to peer learning model to take up more time than you might expect. Depending on your situation, you might want to try just one course for the first term to see how you can manage your time. It should be noted that participation in the class forums is a significant part of your grade, and for every assignment, you are required to asses three of your peers. The quality of your assessments are graded, so it’s something that is like an assignment in and of itself.
So, all I can really say at this point in my time at UoPeople, is that I’m enjoying it. I really can’t give very in depth feed back yet, because it’s only been two days. I just though there might be some value in sharing my first thoughts and experiences at the school. I’ll post more about my studies throughout, and of course will be getting back to blogging about my other topics as well, when there is time.