It is the end of week 3 of this 7 week course. Here is my opinion on it so far.
It is very challenging for me. I don’t have any experience to speak of and diving into this course has been interesting, frustrating, humbling, and I’ve learned a lot. I plan on staying in it to the end and then retaking it as soon as it is over.
I have been out of a formalized education environment where I am the student for close to 20 years. That excludes my apprenticeship which I did about 10 years ago. I am not used to the atmospherics of university students and the university. This is an online setting but it has been very interesting to see the interactions between the people on the forums. My overall impression is that the inmates are running the asylum. Here is a copy and paste from one thread wherein the topic was ‘Policing of the forums.’
First, the initial post in this thread.
I Have noticed a lot of forum policing going on by certain members of this community. I AM NEW TO THIS. I came to learn Python, not the proper way to get a high score in a forum. I find myself becoming discouraged from even posting questions or answers being that I may get lamblasted by the ‘forum patrol’ I closed some questions because forum patrol keeps telling us we have to, and then they demand to know why we have closed questions,stateing that the incorrectreasons have been given. Seriously, if I can’t even edit my own week old posts without insult, will I continue to ask questions? Cheers forum police. Try and remember why we are here.
This reply that starts below is by a man, 19 years old.
I’m happy to admit that, yes, I do try to police these forums, but there is a good reason behind what I do. If you’re question is valid and can’t be found easily by typing a few terms into the search bar, I’m more than happy to help. However, myself and other users have no time to answer the same question multiple times. Moreover, you’re more likely to find a better answer by searching because answers to older questions have been curated and perfected over time.
One problem that arises with asking a question that has been asked before is that you may have 3 different answers on your question, two of which are incorrect. Since your question is new, there hasn’t been enough time for the correct answer to receive any votes. I believe that one good way to measure the validity of an answer is not only the number of votes it has, but also the margin between the highest voted and the second highest voted answer. For example, you could ask a question and get three responses. Say the first response has 50 votes, the second has 20, and the third has -5. Assume these answers are all over a month old. Chances are that the third answer is incorrect. Answers one and two are probably both correct, but answer one is most likely better in some way, whether it’s the approach used by the answer-er, the technique, the explanation, or a plethora of other things. This happens over time. This forum style is best served by having all answers viewable in a central location. Having the same question asked and answered multiple times is not conducive to the goal. If you get offended by my telling you to use the search bar, I really don’t care, you should have used the search bar.
The second major problem I have is people posting threads that aren’t of a question/answer format. Threads thanking the staff are common and, while I’m sure the staff appreciate them, I don’t. I feel that the staff know they are appreciated and these threads clog up the front page and make it so that actual questions are further down the page. I frequently close topics with the comment that this forum implements a question/answer style format and that the OP should refrain from breaking this format.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I am rather rude at times. This is solely because some students refuse to follow basic etiquette. I’ve provided many perfectly legitimate responses to tons of questions that I feel are deserving of them. My answers are thorough and usually somewhat lengthy. As such, I don’t have time to rewrite them fifty times.
I apologize for nothing.
- Search before you post. The search bar is there for a reason. Your question has probably been asked before and you’ll likely find better answers by searching.
- Don’t post if you aren’t asking a question or providing an answer. Threads that don’t follow the question/answer style fomat of this forum clog up the front page and cause actual questions to be less viewable.
The ‘forum police’ guy went on to tell people that if their native language is English to ‘DON’t butcher it’. I guess that doesn’t apply to him. If you join the class be prepared for this type of attitude.
David Evans, the teacher, is a very knowledgeable person. He has a PhD. from MIT and a long teaching background. I will not say anything about his level of knowledge. Do I think he is a good teacher? In a couple of words, he is lacking. My belief about teaching is that a teacher that teaches to the top 1% of the class is mainly avoiding what teaching is all about. I think teaching is about motivating and dispensing information. To be the kind of teacher that gives problems that only experienced programmers can solve in a beginning class is not what I consider a good teacher. It seems to me like there is a Darwinian type of selection going on, both in the forums and the teaching style. There was one problem in the second unit, last week, that is about the Collatz Conjecture. It is an unsolvable problem. To put that into a beginning course shows a disconnect between ones student level and course material.
Back to my homework.