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Old 20 August 2014, 11:57 PM
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Atlanta Jake Atlanta Jake is offline
 
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Reading I need to know about WebAssign

My son just told me that his High School pre-algebra teacher told the class that they would have to sign up for a web site called "WebAssign" to do their homework. Failure to do so will result in a Zero grade fore each homework assignment (25% of their final grade). The service costs $10 per student per quarter.

I looked at the Wiki page for WebAssign and it appears that the main service is that they load the end of chapter questions from textbooks onto a server for the students to answer. As I see it, this is the height of lazy teaching. This "teacher" is too lazy to even print the questions from the textbook and would rather make the students pay so that he/she won't have to do any work.

This teacher has 7 classes with about 25-30 students per class. That's nearly $2000 that this company will receive from this teacher alone.

The $10 will not kill me... although it could be a hardship for some families. But I have never heard of students at a public school having to pay to do required school work. This is not a function of the school system, and appears to be something that this teacher has chosen to do on their own.

I have some questions and I'd also like some opinions, and since I know that there are several teachers on snopes.com I thought I'd ask and see if I'm over reacting.

1. Does the Teacher get a "kickback" for using this service?
2. Is the service helpful for students to learn subjects or just "busy work"?
3. Does it bother snopesters that a Student at a public High School is forced to pay a fee just to do required school work?
4. Is my assessment of "lazy" too harsh for this teacher?
5. Should I complain to the principal? Would you?
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  #2  
Old 21 August 2014, 01:34 AM
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Horse Chestnut Horse Chestnut is offline
 
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Not a teacher, but I do work at a school, and the amount of paper that goes through the system and then wind up in our landfills is staggering, so for that reason alone I would approve of ways to increase the use of paperless assignments. I'm just not sure why it would be necessary to use an outside vendor to supply online work. I would think these questions could be accessed through the school's computer lab, or even posted online through the school's website.
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Old 21 August 2014, 01:47 AM
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Finding a way to not waste paper is admirable, and you might save a bit on school supplies that way, but I think it's worth asking the principal about it just to be sure you won't be asked to pay for this site for this class and then another site for another class. IOW, there should be one central solution for online assignments, in my opinion. And I think it ought to be free to students.
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Old 21 August 2014, 02:16 PM
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Oddly enough, my daughter's old school and current school both implemented web based learning while they were students. There are free services for students and schools, but you get what you pay for.

However, what the schools found was that getting many teachers on the system meant that the fee ($10 in your case) could cover many different classes.

One benefit of online tools is that not every student requires a single product to do the work. I had a correspondance course where I was required to submit all my work in MSOffice (I work in Open Office at home) through email and was told that I needed to buy Office to complete the programme**. However, other courses where the site provides you the text editor, it does not matter what word processor I have at home, I'm the same with everyone else.

As for the costs involved, we have had fees ever since our daughters were small. $5 for a locker. $80 to play sports. $7 for club participation. $5 for electronic support for school. To me, that is the price of going to school, as is buying books, backpacks and calculators.

As for the epitome of laziness, I'd have to see how it is set up. I took a diploma in online course design and management as part of my military training. If the classroom work is sound, then the online portion is likely sound as well. If the online portion is just scans out of the text book, then this is just a likely way of readily tracking student process, and I agree, there is a much more effective way of doing this.

**Open Office is great, but when it comes to inserting graphics/animations etc into presentations, PowerPoint is superior, especially when being viewed in PowerPoint. Good Open Office products cannot compete when read on PowerPoint.
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Old 21 August 2014, 02:54 PM
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Atlanta Jake Atlanta Jake is offline
 
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I agree about the fees that you posted, but the issue here is that none of those fees are REQUIRED in order to pass a given class. My son is in the Marching Band.... believe me I know about fees! But that is voluntary, where this is not.
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Old 21 August 2014, 03:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlanta Jake View Post
I agree about the fees that you posted, but the issue here is that none of those fees are REQUIRED in order to pass a given class. My son is in the Marching Band.... believe me I know about fees! But that is voluntary, where this is not.
Gotcha. We've paid mostly for extra fees. But the electronics fee was for every student. So, we've also had the mandatory fees.

It does seem at times that the schools do nickel and dime a family to death.
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Old 21 August 2014, 05:01 PM
jimmy101_again jimmy101_again is offline
 
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My wife teaches high school (science) and says that the quality of educational software ranges from "really really bad" to "it almost works". Course content software, student tracking and grading software etc. is all pretty bad. Part of the problem appears to be that heavy use of technology is fairly recent and the software developers really haven't figured out yet what is needed and how best to deliver useful tools. Add in the fact that there are dozens of companies producing software and the packages can rarely communicate with each other (for example course content software being able to get/put data into the grade and performance tracking software) and you get a technological mess.

Maybe it'll sort itself out in a few years. Or, maybe technology will continue to change so quickly that schools will never be able to field useful digital technologies.
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Old 21 August 2014, 08:44 PM
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$10 per quarter per kid can quickly become a staggering amount. My kids' schools have a lot of families with three or more school aged children and a friend of mine has six kids.

I'm pretty sure that provincial rules here are that all things that are required for mandatory academic courses (typically meaning textbooks) must be provided by the province and may not have a fee. I expect something like this would also fall under that same rule. Students in our district all have SchoolZone accounts set up for them and teachers may require homework to be submitted through that web-based software, but there are no fees involved for these accounts.

Optional activities such as band or other clubs may have a fee, buses are definitely not free, and lunch rooms can have fees attached. Schools can have items like agendas available for purchase, but students must be allowed to bring a day planner rather than be required to buy from the school. Field trips can have fees, but there is also a policy that no child can be denied going on a field trip if his or her family is unable to pay.
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Old 22 August 2014, 11:37 AM
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It's quite probable that the software quality issues stem at least in part from who the software was originally designed for.

My fire department has had four different programs for emergency dispatching. The first was simply an electronic version of a card file; all you could do was look up a location by one of several sets of parameters and see who was supposed to go there. My boss wrote another program that we used for many many years that only tracked information about fire alarm systems in our city. These programs were easy to use and very useful, but also exceedingly limited - their only advantages were speed & ease of use. And we still needed paper records in case of breakdowns.

Then we switched to a true dispatch program. It ended up never getting used. It was written by a couple of guys who wrote it for a particular fire department, which worked in very different ways from the way we work (and most of the departments in our area work, for that matter). While it was a pretty powerful program and fairly easy to use, it never really worked right for our needs, and it was never really implemented for what it was intended for. When the creators sold it off to another company, things got worse, as they took it in directions that made no sense to us whatsoever. It became completely useless to us.

Now we have one that we are actually using. However, it is not easy to use and it's not well liked by our personnel, though it does actually do what we want it to do. If only we could revamp the interface to make it easy to use as well as properly functional!

I guess the moral of my story is that things may seem "broken" to one person, but be perfect for another. While I'm sure some of those school software programs are hastily-cobbled-together pieces of crap designed only to capitalize on a new market, I'm sure others were made with a particular intent/user demographic, but once released into the wild, quirks and shortcomings have become apparent (and, conversely, quirks and shortcomings of a new user might also be showing... it might be time for Ye Olde Onne Roome School House to update it's educational practices to meet something approaching modern times, rather than seek out a program that caters to chalk-n-slate RRn'R programs )
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Old 22 August 2014, 12:09 PM
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For next year, my kids will be required to each have their own iPad - no other tablet will do, must be the most expensive one out there. No idea yet what apps will be required, but we have been told there will be a list, and I bet they won't all be free. It's a private school, but even so that is starting to go too far IMO
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Old 08 September 2014, 07:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by me, no really View Post
For next year, my kids will be required to each have their own iPad - no other tablet will do, must be the most expensive one out there.
I dislike and am concerned with the amount of technology in classrooms these days. I don't think it's good for learning and information retention. On top of that, it's not good for the social status of children as it further encourages an environment of haves vs. have-nots. This is something kids are already good at creating when it comes to clothing brands and even snacks. Having expensive electronics required by the school just fosters that divide even more.

I am appalled that our eldest's grade 7 supply list asked for a "mobile internet capable device, ie. laptop, iPod, table, smartphone". At the orientation they clarified that devices are not required but they are very strongly encouraged. This is a school that qualifies for extra funding to provide breakfast and snack programs because of the high number of low-income families who can't send their children to school adequately fed. This is a school that eliminated the district standard early dismissal day because it was too taxing on families who already struggled with childcare, and also implemented free after school tutoring and homework help for the kids who have nowhere to go after school and who don't have any academic support at home. This demographic makes it perplexing that the school would not just allow but encourage personal electronics in classrooms.
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