I'm doing an MSc Apprenticeship! As part of my desire to work in the open, these are (semi-regular) weeknotes about what I've done / learned / achieved.
I tend to be grumpy and curmudgeonly when faced with something I don't understand - or when I suspect I won't be good at an activity. So read the following with that in mind.
I've spent the last few weeks working through the pre-course material. Which is mostly about how to learn in an academic environment, and some administrivia about getting set up.
I'll be honest, it hasn't felt like a great start. The MSc is being run by QA.com who, ironically, don't seem great at QA!
My student learning agreement with them had several mistakes that they couldn't correct. And the pre-learning quizzes also had some egregious errors.
I'm quite finely tuned to this sort of thing. If the quality of the "easy" stuff isn't great, it doesn't reassure me that the important stuff will be sufficiently correct.
Similarly, lots of the coursework pages had no alt-text on the images. And some content had typos and grammar issues.
The course is accredited by Northumbria Uni. Despite that, many of the learning modules consisted of watching videos produced by other universities! I sort-of get that. Why bother creating generic content about study techniques and academic conduct when the best universities in the world have already done it? But it leads to a disjointed experience. One minute I'm watching Oxford University's videos, then a quick trip to some Australian Uni, then back over to the University of Weston-Super-Mare.
I think it would make me feel more like a Northumbria student if all the academic learning material came from them.
I guess it comes down to the perennial question "what is a university for?" I can watch MIT's world-class computer science lectures for free. But I still need to pay someone to answer my questions and to accredit my exam.
Miguel Rochefort has an enlightening blog post about graduating from his degree in 3 months. Which basically boils down to "study for free for as long as possible and then speedrun the exams". I suspect that's the future of education.
The online seminar portion was also a bit disjointed. It uses WebEx. Which is a bit crappy compared to modern solutions like Zoom, Hangouts, and even Teams. We were encouraged to use the web version of WebEx, rather than the app version. That didn't go well...
This is going to be an AMAZING experience. Thanks WEBEX! pic.twitter.com/x9ePhVWQ75
— Terence Eden (@edent) December 15, 2020
The instructor mentioned several times that they knew WebEx wasn't brilliant. Sadly, there's no WebEx app for Linux - and I can't install it on my work-supplied MacBook. I don't even think the Android version works properly. So I guess I'm left being unable to fully participate in some of the online activities?
Despite all that - I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in. I've enjoyed some of the pre-work on academic styles, and thinking about what my end-project / thesis could be on. Some of the videos about learning, procrastination, and writing have been helpful.
Let's do this!