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Volume 68, Issue 150, Monday, June 23, 2003 


Web work needs rethinking

Zach Lee
opinion columnist

This column has been a long time coming. When grades were posted at the end of the spring semester, I was surprised to find out that I had a C in a core political science class. After some examination, I found that my low grade was due to some sort of misunderstanding. The online database showed that I had not completed any of the professoris three online quizzes on time. This was strange because I had checked before the last test, and my grades were fine.

My professor promised a grade change to remedy the situation, but through this experience and several others throughout my last semester, I realized several things about the universityis push for a more "Internet savvy" student population. 

The first thing I realized was that the University is trying to weasel more money out of the students. Buying used books was impossible because a setup CD came only with new versions of the same book. Of course, buying the CD separately was also impossible, but most of us made it through.

The setup CDs didnit even work for the first few days of class, as we were given the wrong Web site to visit. After my professor tried several times to contact the company in charge of the Web site, technical difficulties were finally fixed, but more problems sprung up.

One of the most important flaws in the class was that the online material was not formulated to match our text. In fact, the online notes were centered around a completely different textbook. Not only did this confuse many of my fellow students, but when online quizzes were assigned, many failed or simply took the wrong test due to conflicting chapter numbers.

Even those who aced the quizzes, though, faced problems within the system. I have trouble believing that my grade was the only one affected negatively by computer errors. Certainly several others dropped a letter grade, and maybe they were not so lucky to catch the error in time.

As college students, we have all demonstrated a desire to learn and to better ourselves. If our grades, our awards for jobs well done, are not recorded accurately, we may lose opportunities in a tight job market, or we may simply miss out on some well-deserved applause. At a University struggling to make a case for itself as a Tier I school, we deserve much better than shoddy online course material and quizzes. We are told that our college experience may be our greatest asset as we enter the real world, so our grades and the material itself should be handled with the greatest care, not by a high school dropout techie that failed to cash in during the Internet boom.

While several other classes have resulted in very simple and convenient online sessions, my experience in this class was anything but convenient. As long as anyoneis grades are handled sloppily, the University is failing in its duty to ensure fair grading practices, and as students, we should not tolerate failure.

My grade hasnit been changed yet, but Iim sure it will be. The changes that are desperately needed in the area of our schoolis Internet integration, though, may not happen at all.

Zach Lee, a sophomore English major, can be reached at


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