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Harvard Extension quality of classes question
#1
Have any of you attended graduate level courses at Harvard extension online? Which program? 

How interactive is it, and how well done are they? I have taken many online courses at several different Universities over the years, and I have not been very happy with most of them. For in person lectures, I've had some amazing professors where you interact in the discussion, can ask questions on the spot, and you really learn a lot. I still remember lectures from 20 years ago. Comparatively, most online courses I've taken have been terrible, and I could just as easily read something on my own without even taking the course. 

For example, at TESU I just basically get a list of assignments in an unorganized and messy format, you read what you are told, turn in an assignment, then take a quiz or test. The graded discussion forum assignments attempting to make things interactive are just busy work with forced replies to forced comments. I get no lecture and no teaching. Personally, I get absolutely nothing out of this type of course. It checks a box that says complete, I forget it in a few weeks, and that's it. 

For grad school, I do not want to just check a box, especially at an expensive school, I expect more. Are any classes live via zoom? Recorded lectures? Q and A sessions? What are they like? I would hope for a school like this they are very well done, but I have no idea if it's just more of the same read and do type of experience. Wherever I attend, I am pretty much forced to be online. I can do a short residency period, but full time in person is not realistic for my family situation. So what I am looking for is something online, yet immersive, interactive and worth the expense.
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#2
(09-05-2020, 12:46 PM)rpmranger Wrote: Have any of you attended graduate level courses at Harvard extension online? Which program? 

How interactive is it, and how well done are they? I have taken many online courses at several different Universities over the years, and I have not been very happy with most of them. For in person lectures, I've had some amazing professors where you interact in the discussion, can ask questions on the spot, and you really learn a lot. I still remember lectures from 20 years ago. Comparatively, most online courses I've taken have been terrible, and I could just as easily read something on my own without even taking the course. 

For example, at TESU I just basically get a list of assignments in an unorganized and messy format, you read what you are told, turn in an assignment, then take a quiz or test. The graded discussion forum assignments attempting to make things interactive are just busy work with forced replies to forced comments. I get no lecture and no teaching. Personally, I get absolutely nothing out of this type of course. It checks a box that says complete, I forget it in a few weeks, and that's it. 

For grad school, I do not want to just check a box, especially at an expensive school, I expect more. Are any classes live via zoom? Recorded lectures? Q and A sessions? What are they like? I would hope for a school like this they are very well done, but I have no idea if it's just more of the same read and do type of experience. Wherever I attend, I am pretty much forced to be online. I can do a short residency period, but full time in person is not realistic for my family situation. So what I am looking for is something online, yet immersive, interactive and worth the expense.
I have done several towards the creative writing and literature program. The pro seminar and creative writing focused courses were all very intensive with scheduled 2 hour zoom meetings every week plus additional personally scheduled one on one meetings with the professor 3 times a term  and some additional group sessions if necessary. Those classes also had weekly reflective exercises in addition to your required writing samples, which had deadlines that varied per student for workshop purposes. I tried to do the Poetry for America courses for literature credit, but did not like either of the 2 I signed up for....those had minimal required sessions, but a lot of the assignments were just not enjoyable. I took the Philosophy of Superheroes for credit for one of my literature requirements and loved it.  Most of the material for it is available free through coursera, but the for credit version includes a weekly 1 hour discussion session with a graduate assistant lead and 3 other sessions with the actual professor that are optional, but less discussion and you submit your questions beforehand....the lectures are the same prerecorded ones on coursera. All of the writing assignments for the course get turned in once as a draft and then as a final paper incorporating feedback from the draft. It includes both analysis of stories (in this course, it's analysis of movies, tv shows, and radioplays) and creative writing with assigned parameters (you have to create a superhero with powers you are assigned the first week and then compose an origin story and then later a story incorporating philosophical concepts or dilemma that were discussed). The course has both undergraduate and graduate students, with more criteria for graduate writing assignments. The discussions in my group were amazing and it's probably my favorite course I've ever taken....and I'm not really a person into superhero or that whole genre. Honestly,  if every class I took was like this one, I would have finished school a long time ago.
And I also want to stress how strict all of the HE courses are with deadlines. Unless you get approval beforehand or have a verifiable emergency,  you likely will get zero credit for anything not turned in on time. And the courses that had draft assignments would not allow submission of the final paper if there was no draft grade.
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#3
(09-05-2020, 07:05 PM)Sparklette Wrote: I have done several towards the creative writing and literature program. The pro seminar and creative writing focused courses were all very intensive with scheduled 2 hour zoom meetings every week plus additional personally scheduled one on one meetings with the professor 3 times a term  and some additional group sessions if necessary. Those classes also had weekly reflective exercises in addition to your required writing samples, which had deadlines that varied per student for workshop purposes. I tried to do the Poetry for America courses for literature credit, but did not like either of the 2 I signed up for....those had minimal required sessions, but a lot of the assignments were just not enjoyable. I took the Philosophy of Superheroes for credit for one of my literature requirements and loved it.  Most of the material for it is available free through coursera, but the for credit version includes a weekly 1 hour discussion session with a graduate assistant lead and 3 other sessions with the actual professor that are optional, but less discussion and you submit your questions beforehand....the lectures are the same prerecorded ones on coursera. All of the writing assignments for the course get turned in once as a draft and then as a final paper incorporating feedback from the draft. It includes both analysis of stories (in this course, it's analysis of movies, tv shows, and radioplays) and creative writing with assigned parameters (you have to create a superhero with powers you are assigned the first week and then compose an origin story and then later a story incorporating philosophical concepts or dilemma that were discussed). The course has both undergraduate and graduate students, with more criteria for graduate writing assignments. The discussions in my group were amazing and it's probably my favorite course I've ever taken....and I'm not really a person into superhero or that whole genre. Honestly,  if every class I took was like this one, I would have finished school a long time ago.
And I also want to stress how strict all of the HE courses are with deadlines. Unless you get approval beforehand or have a verifiable emergency,  you likely will get zero credit for anything not turned in on time. And the courses that had draft assignments would not allow submission of the final paper if there was no draft grade.

Thanks for the info, 

Did you have to take one of the EXPO writing courses, or did you pass the writing exam to avoid it? If so which EXPO did you take and how was it? Also how difficult is the writing exam? Is it higher standards than an ENG comp I/II course?
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#4
(09-06-2020, 04:23 PM)rpmranger Wrote:
(09-05-2020, 07:05 PM)Sparklette Wrote: I have done several towards the creative writing and literature program. The pro seminar and creative writing focused courses were all very intensive with scheduled 2 hour zoom meetings every week plus additional personally scheduled one on one meetings with the professor 3 times a term  and some additional group sessions if necessary. Those classes also had weekly reflective exercises in addition to your required writing samples, which had deadlines that varied per student for workshop purposes. I tried to do the Poetry for America courses for literature credit, but did not like either of the 2 I signed up for....those had minimal required sessions, but a lot of the assignments were just not enjoyable. I took the Philosophy of Superheroes for credit for one of my literature requirements and loved it.  Most of the material for it is available free through coursera, but the for credit version includes a weekly 1 hour discussion session with a graduate assistant lead and 3 other sessions with the actual professor that are optional, but less discussion and you submit your questions beforehand....the lectures are the same prerecorded ones on coursera. All of the writing assignments for the course get turned in once as a draft and then as a final paper incorporating feedback from the draft. It includes both analysis of stories (in this course, it's analysis of movies, tv shows, and radioplays) and creative writing with assigned parameters (you have to create a superhero with powers you are assigned the first week and then compose an origin story and then later a story incorporating philosophical concepts or dilemma that were discussed). The course has both undergraduate and graduate students, with more criteria for graduate writing assignments. The discussions in my group were amazing and it's probably my favorite course I've ever taken....and I'm not really a person into superhero or that whole genre. Honestly,  if every class I took was like this one, I would have finished school a long time ago.
And I also want to stress how strict all of the HE courses are with deadlines. Unless you get approval beforehand or have a verifiable emergency,  you likely will get zero credit for anything not turned in on time. And the courses that had draft assignments would not allow submission of the final paper if there was no draft grade.

Thanks for the info, 

Did you have to take one of the EXPO writing courses, or did you pass the writing exam to avoid it? If so which EXPO did you take and how was it? Also how difficult is the writing exam? Is it higher standards than an ENG comp I/II course?
I took the exam. It is timed and I believe it is 2 hours for the writing portion. There was also maybe 20 questions that were usage/best sentence selection/subject-verb agreement type stuff that I would rate at early high school level knowledge. 
The actual essay part I would put on par with the GRE essay section. You are given a topic and have to take a stance on that topic and explain why with examples. You don't get to use any outside sources, so it tests your general knowledge a bit in addition to your writing. The topic I got was also very similar to one of the GRE pool topics and did not require any specialized knowledge.
If i remember correctly, they score the exams in batches. So any taken from date xx to yy all come back on date zz. So if you don't like waiting forever for results, I would suggest taking the exam closer to the end of the batch period.
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#5
My son didn't even attempt the exam because he isn't a good writer. He took EXPO 34 and passed with a B+, but it was not easy for him. I suggest always looking up professors on Rate my Professors. He is the opposite of you and does not like the classes with interaction, but I can tell you every time he had to take courses that had one or two weekly class meetings, the professors and students were top notch. His AI class was on-demand but had 5 or 6 optional TA sessions a week. It was a difficult class so he attended most of them every week. The teacher's assistants for that class were extremely helpful. Most of the On-Demand courses are well put together and the TA's are usually pretty responsive. Also, a lot of the syllabus' are available to review when you are looking up classes to register for. He has found this very useful when picking classes. I think you would be happy with the quality of HES. At least we are.
Myself: Pierpont BOG (May 2018), TESU BALS-SS (June 2019)
CC: 34cr 1979-95 SL: 9cr Shmoop: 6cr SC: 48cr Sophia: 5cr OD: 12cr TEEX: 3cr Ed4Credit: 6cr TESU: 7cr

My son: Currently pursuing Harvard Extension MLA Digital Media Design 28 Cr completed
TESU ASNSM in CS (June 2018), TESU BA Learner-Designed-Software Dev/Web Design Heart & Cert CIS (March 2019)
CSU Global: 9cr Hodges: 24cr SL: 15cr SC: 51cr TEEX: 4cr Sophia: 8cr CLEP: 3cr ED4Credit: 6cr TESU: 6cr Alex:3cr
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#6
Thanks to both of you for the information. That makes me feel better about the classes not just being a generic online read/do format. It sounds like they are very high quality, as I was hoping.

I'm getting ready to start applying to a few programs with the OCT deadlines coming up. The GRE isn't required at most places this year due to the pandemic, but it looks like I should do some GRE prep anyway for the writing test if I end up doing the Harvard route.

I am probably overthinking it, but a writing test graded by Harvard faculty just sounds intimidating.
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#7
(09-07-2020, 12:01 PM)rpmranger Wrote: Thanks to both of you for the information. That makes me feel better about the classes not just being a generic online read/do format. It sounds like they are very high quality, as I was hoping.

I'm getting ready to start applying to a few programs with the OCT deadlines coming up. The GRE isn't required at most places this year due to the pandemic, but it looks like I should do some GRE prep anyway for the writing test if I end up doing the Harvard route.

I am probably overthinking it, but a writing test graded by Harvard faculty just sounds intimidating.
The only prep I would suggest is reviewing the basic 5 paragraph essay structure, and how to expand that into more paragraphs if necessary. It's not the most dynamic writing style, but it more than suffices for these types of timed essays where you don't really have time to develop fancy structures. 
And you could read through some of the GRE published topics pool, just to get an idea of the type of prompts, but I wouldn't go too deep into those since Harvard has its own pool that are more regularly updated...just to get a sense of the type of prompts to expect. If you look at those and feel lost at what you'd write, a very short textbook I'd suggest (I think some of the Harvard classes use it, even and it'sone of the most assigned for critical thinking/writing courses in the US) is Weston's Rulebook for Arguments. I have used it to teach middle school age kids how to write better essays. I like it because it goes beyond just listing fallacies to avoid and includes good practices for strengthening your points.
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