It starts off with a mandatory phone-in conference/video call. During mine, the course mentor forgot to show up. Yep. There were 48 of us on the call, waiting...After about 30 minutes, we finally got an email from her saying that she'd put the wrong date in the initial email. Ooops! This was not the best way to make a good impression.
A few days later, I listened and watched the mandatory call. About a week after the mandatory call, the course mentor (CM) emailed a recorded version of the very same call out to everyone in the class. I'd thought that since it was a mandatory call, there would be some nugget of information that I could only glean from the live call. This is not the case at all. There was very little interaction between any of the students and the CM in the live call anyway.
My advice? Um aren't you, ahem, busy during each of the scheduled mandatory calls? If so, email the CM and let her know. I'm pretty confident that since she did it for others, she's willing to email you a copy of the mandatory call and still let you take the class.
This was my first group class and I was worried about getting stuck with someone in a vastly different time zone. What's nice is that the CM assigns the groups based upon time zones, so unless someone in your group has recently moved to a different time zone and not told the CM, (like I did) it should be ok. If you're in a time zone in which there aren't a lot of WGU students like AK or Nova Scotia, you might get students from a neighboring time zone, but I'm guessing you're used to that.
The first part of the class (I think I mentioned this in the previous post) basically entailed taking a quiz to determine what each of the leadership styles are in your group. This exercise was a bit cheesy, but it was a good way to easily pre-judge people and categorize them, without having to actually get to know them. (Am I harsh? Yes, but it was a great information to have when you know that your teammates are going to complete a survey about each of the team members the end and you have to actually use that information to complete Task 2.)
The main part of this task is for each team member to write 2 sections of a fictional handbook that is to be given to new managers. Some of the topics include: conflict resolution, leading high performance teams, communicating in teams, and time management. Although I thought I knew at least something about each of the topics, I was excited about the possibility of learning more, especially at a higher level. Unfortunately, the text books that we were given access to were pretty sophomoric.
Here is a gem quote that was taken from one of the books that was assigned. This is in reference to speaking with people with whom you may not share the same first language, "And remember, there is no need to speak much louder." Does this imply that it's suggested that you speak a little louder? Seriously? No, this book was not written in 1967, but rather 2010. In my experience, speaking louder and slower also doesn't help people who are deaf, to understand verbal communication. Go figure. Betcha weren't expecting to learn that today, were ya.
Unfortunately, the other resources are also not very helpful at giving much insight in to the leadership topics. They are pretty basic, and lack any scientific proof of their findings, so it's mostly just opinions.
I am a non traditional student, which is one reason I chose WGU. I work from home during the week, so that I can play on the weekends. (Find me a marathon and I'm there!) My teammates were the opposite. They work during the week and do the bulk of their work on the weekends. I also seem to do most of my work between 10PM and 2AM. Because of this, when we were scheduling deadlines, I suggested that deadlines be set for first thing in the morning, rather than something being due at 5PM. My teammates acknowledged that they would not be looking at the materials until the morning anyway. This bought me extra time so that I could work when I needed to. Unfortunately, in my surveys, I got dinged for this. I thought that was kind of shitty, to agree to something and then to use it against me later. Oh well.
Oh regarding the surveys. I've mentioned that I have a bad memory, right? I don't remember! Anyway, I do. I'm only in my mid 30s and my memory seems to be getting increasingly bad. Anyway, when you get the surveys, they come in individual emails and you receive one for each team member, including yourself. Weird right? I thought about boasting about what an awesome team member I'd been, and how I'd been the superstar but...well you know that's not my style. I lean towards the self-deprecating side.
One of the questions asked how that particular team member could have better contributed to the team's overall performance. I was honest. I said, "She talks incessantly about marathons and while I understand that they are important to her personally, hearing about them did not add to group discussion". In fairness, I realized that I'd been doing this during the course of our discussions, and knowing I was going to be 'graded', I stopped.
I hate criticism. I know I'm supposed to like that people care enough to give me feedback, and all of that BS, but I'm pretty sensitive, so my feelings get hurt pretty easily. After leaving the surveys sit in my in-box for a day, I made a strong cup of Joe and summoned up the courage to read the feedback. Overall, it was really positive. I had one team member who was a bit of a dirty dish rag, so I didn't give (what I thought were) his comments much thought. There was one though, that was pretty personal and really bothered me, especially since it must have come from one of my other teammates whom I actually liked. I nearly cried about it. I went to the gym and took out my hurt on the revolving step/stair climber thingy. For 45 minutes I lamented, "How could someone be so cruel? Wow, do I really talk about running that much?". It was only when I was done climbing, and doing my stretches that I realized, DUH! That was ME! I wrote that comment! It was interesting because the comment was so magnified by seeing it in writing. Maybe it's proof that what people have told me is true. Maybe I am too hard on myself at times. (I still disagree, but I'm willing to consider it as a valid point of view.)
Seeing other peoples' writing, unfortunately, reinforced some of my beliefs about WGU. I apologize if it seems like I'm attacking others' writing styles. I don't blame the students of WGU. I don't think that this is their fault. We're given sub-par tools to use. Even chef Tony Bourdain (I've met him so I can call him "Tony".) would have a tough time making a great meal if he was told he could only use Wonder Bread and Velveeta.
I've heard it said that children will live up to their parents' expectations, good or bad. I believe this to be true of WGU. WGU has some really smart students, some of whom I finally got to meet, but the expectations are so low that students aren't allowed to grow and learn as much as they could if the expectations were higher. (Yes, I know, lots of run-on sentences!) Not everyone can get in to Kellogg or Harvard and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I know I couldn't. What I worry about though, with WGU, is that the all-inclusiveness is forcing the faculty to teach to the lowest common denominator. This will only hurt the school's reputation. If WGU doesn't produce knowledgeable, insightful graduates, the diplomas they hand out are worthless. They might as well increase their rates, go private, and not be ashamed about being a diploma mill. I'm not saying that they are. I don't know that for certain. Yet. I haven't made up my mind, and I've not gone to a school with such a reputation. (As far as I know, those who know about WGU, consider it to be reputable. Maybe I'm wrong.)
What I do know is that the work that I'm producing would not have earned me passing grades at the University of Wisconsin, nor at Madison Area Technical College, or even in some cases, high school. This hurts. I want to learn this material. I want to apply it in an intelligent way. I want my ideas, beliefs, and values to be questioned so that I can grow as a person.
In my most recent submission, I cited sources such as eHow and Wikipedia. At first I hesitated using these sites because they are not considered to be reputable, academic sources of information. I made the choice to use these sites because I've grown lazy, and because I was advised, by my first course mentor, that the graders may not be able to fairly grade my submissions if it deviates too far from the course of study.
Have you found this to be true? Is the curriculum too easy and the expectations too low?