It’s now half way through week 4 at UoPeople, and I have to say that my experience so far has been very good! My courses have been challenging me, but I’ve also really enjoyed the topics in the reading assignments. The school just launched the UoPeople network on Yammer, which is basically Facebook for work groups, or in our case school. But more on that later below.
I’d like to bring up an opinion from my last post about my first impressions of the school. I had mentioned how hard it would be if you were not exceptionally good in the English language, with a strong emphasis on reading. Although I do still stand by this opinion, I feel I’ve had some more thoughts on the matter and would like to discuss my insight.
For those who have a hard time reading and writing, and are feeling unsure about UoPeople because of this weakness, I’d still suggest trying anyways. Seeing as it’s tuition free, there is fairly little risk, so it’s hard to argue against it if your already thinking about giving it a shot to begin with. Either way, I think it can still be possible for anyone who struggles with reading and writing to be successful at this school. Through the peer assessments, I’ve already given out high grades to people who clearly don’t speak English as their native language, but were able to meet all of the requirements of the assignment none the less. I’m not saying it’s easy for them, or that it will be easy for you. I’m sure these individuals had to work very hard to construct their ideas, and present them in a language that’s secondary to them. But it’s clear to me now that it’s possible.
As for the content that has been in my courses so far, I’d say all of the information and assignments have been very interesting, as well as helping me to understand the kind of philosophy that exists at UoPeople. My first course, Online Learning Strategies, has helped me immensely in understanding how to prepare myself for online education. I’ve been learning strategies for reading dense material and properly summarizing it, while using APA citations. I’ve learned were to find many useful resources that will come in handy not only through my studies in school, but for the rest of my life. The course has presented many thought provoking topics about different learning styles, as well as styles of assessing learning itself. From the material I’ve seen in the course so far, I feel like UoPeople is a very forward thinking school, and cares deeply about the success of its students.
As I said above, I’d come back to talking about Yammer. It’s a brand new introduction to the UoPeople environment, but it’s a much needed one. It came just in time too, because I was originally going to post about there not being a very good social network for communicating with other students, and now there is. Yammer is like the front lawn for UoPeople, because you can reach out to any student who signs up, instead of just talking to your classmates in the forums. It allows you to do pretty much all of the things you can do on Facebook, but with a more “enterprise” feel. Because of Yammer, I’ve already been able to get to know a few of my fellow students, and I’m hoping to start some collaborations with a few of them (if I can even make the time).
I should make note, before I log off, that not everything has been completely great. I have had some disappointments in regards to the peer assessments. These disappointments are no deal breaker by any means, but it does highlight some of the short comings with the peer to peer learning model. Like I said in the last post, every student has to assess 3 assignments per unit. So each student should get assessed 3 times each. The problem is that I’ve already had the experience of not getting assessed because of students not doing their dam homework. But UoPeople makes sure everyone gets assessed, and in the end I still got graded. It’s still frustrating though, to mark work that’s done carelessly, and to be marked by students that don’t put in the effort of including constructive feedback.
Despite some of my concerns, my overall experience has been a great one! For the most part I really enjoy the peer to peer learning style, and how I get to see other students strategies for tackling an assignment. The feedback from my peers (the ones who are trying) is so much better than the feedback you might get in a traditional school setting, where the teacher grades literally every assignment. I also get introduced to many opinions from all over the world, and get to learn about what it’s like to live in different places from the experiences shared in the forums.
I definitely recommend this school for anyone looking for a BA or BS, but can’t afford to go to traditional universities, or just work full time and would like to get a degree while keeping their job. It’s an amazing opportunity that should be taking advantage of by more people!