How effective is the learning model at something like SNHU?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by ArielB, Mar 1, 2022.

  1. ArielB

    ArielB Member

    How effective do you think the learning model at schools like SNHU (and also UoP, Walden, Capella, etc.) really is? What I mean is, these schools tend to have you do discussion board essays and replies for almost every type of class. I also hear that the professors don't really teach, they are just there to answer questions. Is this really an effective way to actually learn something? If you've gone to one of these schools, did you learn from the classes?

    I had initially looked in to SNHU but decided to go to ASU online instead because - (1) the professors and curriculum are the same as for on-campus students and (2) it has traditional lectures, exams, etc. It feels more like the brick & mortar schools that I went to right out of high school so many years ago.
  2. JoshD

    JoshD Well-Known Member

    I find the learning model is less important than an individual students willingness and desire to learn. I remember having classmates in undergraduate courses on-campus that went to class but did not do well because they did not study. Then I had classmates in my MBA that I studied with a lot throughout the week that excelled because they actually studied the material.

    Do not be turned off of a school due to the learning model. I’d really does depend on you more than anything.
    Rich Douglas and Rachel83az like this.
  3. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Hopefully Rich will comment. He's suggested before that University of Phoenix puts a lot more thought into this sort of thing than most people expect.
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  4. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Athabasca's undergraduate humanities courses (Psychology, Criminal Justice, Human Services, etc.) are arranged in a very particular format, and I took a lot of them doing my Human Services Bachelor's with them:
    • Learning Outcomes
    • Reading
    • Commentary
    • Key Words
    • Study Questions
    The way that you would work through each module is you would look at the learning outcomes, then do the reading. It was usually a chapter in the textbook. You would then read or watch the commentary video, which replaced the lecture. The key words and study questions frequently showed up on exams. If you could answer those, you generally had a good handle on the material.

    The professors are facilitators. The courses are packaged and released on day 1. Most courses involved writing 3 or 4 papers, and occasionally discussion boards. You could have zero interaction with a Professor if you wanted to. Eastern's MS in Data Science program is similar, where the courses are video-based. You watch the videos, complete the coding assignments as directed, write the exams. You don't need to talk to someone if you don't want to (with a few exceptions.)

    In both programs, I learned the material well and was well prepared for more intensive work in those same fields. On the other hand, it's really easy to NOT do the work and then perform poorly. You have to be motivated to put the time in. If you do, though, you'll do well.
  5. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I've done both traditional B&M and canned curriculum (CTU). Let me share some of my cheers and jeers.


    Colorado Technical University - Managerial Accounting
    My professor was a VP of Accounting at a major retailer. He had some really interesting anecdotes about how lessons would apply. He, like all professors at CTU, taught once or twice a week. We went on, he worked a white board, he explained concepts from the lessons. It was all very interesting.

    Colorado Technical University - Operations Management
    My professor was an executive at Amazon. Amazon was, of course, still a big deal back then but nowhere near the big deal it is today. For this course, again, the professor related professional experience to the lessons of the text and in the weekly lectures he actually drew manufacturing floor layouts and things he had seen work, and not work even though they logically should have worked, and explained the importance of holistic views of anything that makes sense on paper since people often do not.

    University of Scranton - Pretty much all of my psychology coursework
    My professor was a practicing psychologist in private practice who not only came with stories from her practice but would also bring in peer reviewed articles that she found interesting. She would provide them, talk about them and emphasize the importance of scholarly work.

    University of Scranton - Introduction to the Bible
    Required of all undergrads (one of two required theology courses, you also required two philosophy course), my professor taught the bible as literature. As such, she dissected the writing styles of each book and would test us on our ability to identify these styles.


    University of Scranton - Church History I
    What did I learn in Church History? Not a damn thing. After buying $75 in required texts we got there and realized that the only actual required text was The Hobbit. Professor's reason for this was that in order to succeed as academics we needed to read good literature. No tie ins to theology or the text. Just a review of the Hobbit. Toward the end of hte semester he had the diocesan person who was somehow connected to Natural Family Planning (Catholic friendly birth control) come in and talk to the class about the importance of not using condoms. We learned absolutely nothing. No exams. Grades were based on take home assignments of which 75% of them were about what was happening in The Hobbit.

    University of Scranton - Math 103 Mathematics for Educators
    I took this class because it was the lowest level math that met the math requirement and I didn't really feel like stretching myself. The professor automated his own job. He programmed, I think it was in javascript, a series of web based daily lessons for us to take. Then we took the exam on the same system. We did all of this with the professor present so our exams were proctored (and were graded immediately!). It was neat. But most of the time he was troubleshooting his software. I recall him writing on the board once because the lesson in the software was pretty shoddy and he decided to explain it to all of us rather than answer the questions individually.

    University of Scranton - Intro to Computers
    It was a while ago but it wasn't so long ago that this class offered any utility. The first three tests involved us converting paragraphs of text into binary. The rest of it was a professor with a PhD in CS from the early 90's telling us how Opera was the best browser and we should all use it.

    Overall, I can't really complain about my education at any of these schools. However, I do think the discussion board things were useless. People put thought into getting credit for their comment rather than adding to a meaningful discussion. On the other hand, participation grades in other courses were just as useless. All in all, crappy professors taught crappy classes and good professors taught good classes. The bad ones at CTU are harder to identify because the standardized curriculum prevented a professor from going off the rails completely by, say, having us read the damn Hobbit instead of doing what was in the syllabus.
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  6. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I think it comes down to personal preference. I abhor schools that focus more on APA formatting and writing to the rubric than content. "What you wrote is factually incorrect or total nonsense, but you get an 'A' because you wrote 500 words, had two sources with no formatting errors, and you responded to two classmates with 200 words of more nonsense."

    I attended some schools that required a lot of writing on limited topics. You could get an "A" without really knowing anything about the subject of the course. One could blame the students for not taking the initiative to read all of the assigned material even though they didn't have to, but sometimes they just don't have time because of all the busy work.

    At the undergraduate level, I prefer schools that focus more on knowing and comprehending foundational information. Let's take world religions, for example. I already knew a lot about Christianity because I was raised Christian, so I only came out of that class with additional knowledge on Judaism because I did a project on Judaism. That defeats the purpose of taking a world religions course. I've since done some reading and have watched lectures on other major religions now that I'm not bogged down with busy work.
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  7. Rachel83az

    Rachel83az Well-Known Member

    I agree that it definitely depends on the student and the class. There are a lot of in-person classes that won't teach you anything. There are plenty of online classes where you'll learn a heck of a lot. Most of both types are somewhere in the middle.
    sanantone likes this.
  8. ArielB

    ArielB Member

    Thanks for the different perspectives. I'm considering a lot as I start to look at grad schools, and I want to make sure that the learning model is going to work for me (I actually want to learn something, not just tick a box).
  9. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Two thoughts based on my experience in b&m vs d/l law study and what I've read. 1) lectures are generally the least effective way to learn. Lots of reading and lots of writing are far better. 2) make sure the degree you earn will serve your purposes.

  10. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    It is difficult to follow a pedagogical model when conducting online, asynchronous education. There is no classroom--virtual or otherwise--where students and a teacher gather to learn.

    An andragogical model, however, is well-suited for the online environment. In it, the student is the center of the learning, while the instructor is a facilitator and assessor. Thus, more content is provided in other forms besides a live lecture--readings, videos, discussion thread questions, written feedback, exercises, activities, and student generated content (essays, papers, etc.).

    Critics of online learning tend to focus on inputs--superficial ones like the lack of teaching. In the workplace, this is akin to supervisors not being able to cope with teleworking because they're not seeing their employees come into the workplace--as if that was a measure of anything. Just as you don't know what people are actually doing by looking at them in the workplace, you also don't know what they're learning sitting in a classroom.

    Instead, the focus should be on outputs--what students do--to demonstrate outcomes--what they've learned to do, think, and feel.

    Steve brought up the University of Phoenix. At UoP, learning time was split between the classroom and in team projects (by self-directed teams). In the classroom, some instructors instructed; others facilitated learning. The team projects were student-driven and merely graded by the instructors, but the instructors would provide assistance and guidance where requested. Simply put, students weren't taught as much as they were guided to learning outcomes.

    Andragogy makes huge assumptions about adults' readiness to learn. Some are not. Often, these people show up--virtually or otherwise--expecting to be taught. They're disappointed because they're expected to take control of their own learning, but what they perceive is a lack of tuition. Right. On purpose. Here's what you need to learn, here's some materials to learn it (but you're not limited to those), here are some activities along the way, and here's what we expect you to do to demonstrate your learning.

    This is what most critics of online learning do not get. To take a traditional, classroom-based experience and stuff it into an online delivery is folly. Even if I wanted to do it, it's stupid. I do this all the time in my practice. If I have you in a synchronous online environment, I've got about an hour where I can hold your attention. It's because it's too intense and too isolated. Even using breakout rooms can carry it only so much further. Whereas, in the classroom, I can have you for an entire week without losing your interest and attention. It's different.

    Also, this is why doing online learning for children during the Covid pandemic was so hard. Children, largely, need to be taught. Very hard to do over a computer for long. But I think some high school students would have been ready for facilitated learning instead of relying on the computerized replication of the classroom lecture. But how many schools really understood these principles?
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  11. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    NB: I was a college campus chair at UoP during all of 2004 and remained an adjunct for two more years. However, I've had no connection with the University since then. My assertions and assessments should be considered in that context.
    SteveFoerster likes this.

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