July 18, 2009

Clues to the Clueless #21: The WTF Student

Posted in clues to the clueless, student stories tagged , , , , , , , at 2:42 pm by profart

Hint: If your professor tells you to withdraw from a class, then they are telling you that the other option is you are going to fail the class. Would you rather withdraw or fail?

One of the downfalls of online education is the herd of students who attempt to take an online class without knowing how online classes work. They don’t think they need to take an orientation session or look up how their college does online courses, or what is expected by the college. In other words, they sign up, and have no clue what to do.

Usually, they log in to the class, see my initial announcement splashed over the home page telling them step-by-step what to do next (read the syllabus, view the orientation presentation, tour the site, email with questions) and then I get a slew of emails to the effect of “I have no clue how to do an online course! Help!” I then proceed to tell them again, with a little more guidance about how to post a message to a board, and a lot more reminders that they are supposed to take a live orientation session before signing up for a class, and perhaps they had better go ahead and sign in for one of those sessions now. After all, the first line of my syllabus is something to the effect of, “You are expected to be familiar with how to take an online course here, and be familiar with your hardware and the software. Check out the tutorials the college provides for you online!”

So I get really, really annoyed at the occasional, but mercifully rare, “WTF Student.” WTF Student is the one who never figures it out, takes few to no steps to actually figure it out, and then complains that they need to pass the class, even after I inform them that they really need to withdraw. The usual excuse is “but I NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED this class!” to which I would really love to answer, “then you NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED to go to the orientation sessions and check out the tutorials!”

This semester I have the supreme WTF Student. Two and a half weeks after the class started, I get an email from WTF asking why they haven’t been emailed about the class, and so how dothey get their assignments? I explained that the course is run through the online class software, and she needs to log in to get the syllabus (which they obviously haven’t read) and a stern reminder that they need to investigate the college website about online courses, including the tutorials. I also gave grave advice: as we were now in week 3 of a 10-week class, WTF “really needs to be withdrawing from the course.” That’s right, I didn’t pull punches or beat around the bush. I told WTF to withdraw, well before the withdraw deadline.

I was told that withdrawing was not an option. Could they have extra credit?

Um… no. I referred them to the syllabus (where I clearly state I do not do extra credit), the orientation presentation (ditto), and then again to the Distance Learning website with the tutorials, with a reminder that my syllabus states they need to be familiar with online courses.

They continued to not complete work, and the less said about the midterm, the better.

And now I have a whiny email about how they NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED this class, and NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED a C+.

What does this tell me, as a professor?
1. Since they haven’t bothered to do the work even after I told them to log in to the class and check out the orientation material and tutorials, they aren’t really that interested in keeping up with the class.
2. They haven’t yet read the syllabus. If they had, they would know that such emails are strictly forbidden by my Academic Honestly policy. Telling me the grade they NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED is specifically mentioned as verboten.

Why does this person think I am going to give myself extra work and pains to help them, when they have done nothing to help themselves (all they have done is whined)? I expect I will be getting the “You’re such a bitch” email next, but seriously. The lesson I am teaching them now may be way more valuable to them in the future than what they would learn if I handed them a bunch of extra credit crap for them to fail to do, and have to fail them anyway.


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