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Sophia Quality... Questionable?
#1
Hey everyone! It's been a long time since I've posted on the forums but I just can't help but bring this up. 

I was taking some Sophia courses to test them out during the free period and I couldn't believe how easy they are. I took Sociology in just a day (just over 2 hours) and that's one of the longer ones! 

The most disappointing thing to me was the practice final. It's only 25 questions long, open book and not proctored. They of course have that typing test to verify that it's you, but you could have 10 people in the room helping you, or you could type the sentence and walk away to have someone else take the test. Not to mention, just opening other tabs on your computer, which it didn't seem to specifically say not to do. Although I didn't do that because it seemed like cheating and I wasn't sure of the rules, and it was so stupid easy I didn't need to. I didn't even need to use the open book material they prompt you to check during the test. Additionally, I went through it as quickly as I could so I didn't read one line of text from the transcripts, I only went through and took the quizzes and milestones. I don't say this to brag - rather to point out that I think anyone would do just fine with that method. Especially on the final, since some of the questions were so blatantly obvious a 10 year old could answer them. 

I understand that people shouldn't cheat even if they won't get caught, but it all just seems a little ridiculous. I know it's nice to have courses that are easy - I'd be lying if I said I didn't always look for the easiest CLEP, DSST, Straighterline and Study.com courses to meet my requirements. But something that easy (and easy to cheat on) seems like it really lowers the integrity of what it means for a course to be ACE approved. 

I'm honestly pretty disappointed to see this. But I'm curious to hear other opinions on it!
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#2
When you refer to the Sophia coursework being "that easy", it would be helpful to know your personal background. Are you the type of person who reads a lot of books on all kinds of different subjects? I know that I am this kind of person. That's going to impact your learning experience. Have you completed a lot of college-level credit prior to enrollment? I did. That's going to determine your experience. During the free promotion, we've had people talking about their struggles with completing certain Sophia courses, while others found the same courses to be an "easy, breezy experience." Are you the type of person who always did well in math at all levels? You might find the Sophia math courses fairly easy. Are you a single mom who struggled with math in high school and then dropped out altogether? You might have a much harder time with the courses and wish that they were more accessible. Were you always good at writing essays? You might find the Sophia English Composition courses to be easy.

Before the end of the free promotion, I've picked up the "Principles of Finance" course to see whether I could finish it super fast. I didn't have any background with the subject. Guess what happened? I've failed. I also had to do "Accounting" twice and only passed it on my second attempt. Your experience is just that...your experience. You're being unduly critical.
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#3
I've just finished with my first set of instructor-led ASU classes. I've also completed 90% of currently available Sophia classes. ASU and Sophia were both similarly "easy" for me in many ways. With ASU, I got 3 As and a B in my 4 classes without studying or turning in any "design projects" that were expected. It took me less than 10 minutes to finish each of my proctored ASU exams (actually, Astronomy may have taken me closer to 20 minutes). Does this mean that the ASU classes are too easy and should be thrown out? No, it just means that I had familiarity with most of the subject material beforehand. There were a lot of students who were struggling with all of the courses, based on the discussion board comments. I simply happen to be a mature student while many of the other students were just high school grads.

Sophia has never claimed to be anything other than a source for lower-level credit. This means that there are going to be a lot of students who find at least some of the courses to be extremely easy. Sociology is a 101 level course, so of course it's going to be easy for someone who has a passing familiarity with the subject. Personally, I did come very close to failing out of Macro/Microeconomics, Project Management, Principles of Finance, and Accounting because I have comparatively little experience in those areas. Statistics is something I feel I could've done much better in if I hadn't been trying to rush to finish it before the 31st. I totally agree with openair that what you get out of Sophia totally depends on both what you bring to it and what effort you put into it. No different than any other college classes, really.
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#4
My own anecdotal experience taking Sophia's U.S. History I and II for fun is that, even after picking up 5's in AP History courses from way back in high school and a couple minors in History fields to boot, I still felt like the way they framed the course was really conducive the learning the same material in a new way. Actually, for me, their overarching emphasis on the different "lenses" of historiography led to several insights of a subject that I already loved dearly.

I definitely could have zoomed through the course and taken the milestones--and I just as definitely would have missed a few answers here or there--but I really took my time through the material to soak it all in since it felt like catching up with an old friend after a long break. It's possible to walk away from familiar subjects with new understandings, just like it's possible to run down the "easy" path and power through the material. Both speeds are just as valid as the other, depending on how you want/need to approach the material. Different students will approach their learning modules in different ways.

(This paragraph is just an irrelevant personal side-rant, but when I read Sophia course evaluations that claim the History curriculum is "liberal" because it goes beyond bullets and blood to consider socioeconomic issues, I mean, woosh; that's kind of one of the key takeaways of this entry-level, four-century overview: students studying history shouldn't close their minds off to reevaluating their understanding of their place in the world and how they operate among the systems in place within it.)

Senior college admissions counselor in Beijing with research interest in higher ed college access. Reverts to PADI Divemaster when near a coast.

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#5
It's been said before but it bears repeating, it's posts like this one that make me realize, this site is at once the best and the worst thing to happen to alternative degree students.
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#6
Is a 100 level survey course for non-majors supposed to be hard? They wouldn't be hard at a brick and mortar school either, they would just take months and cost more. Welcome to the future of education.
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#7
Stop complaining. Lower level courses are not supposed to be so difficult. College is already difficult as it is.
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#8
As it was mentioned before, I guess this depends predominantly on your background...

For me sociology takes longer that you, U.S. Histroy 1 and 2 takes me so long, and English composition I takes me 38 days (of course grading time delays it).

But i finish Statistcs an Algebra in two days, i actually could finish each course in just one day.

Of course i have a strong math background, so i almost don't need to read anything to complete both math realted courses...
BSBA: 57.5% completed (69 credits of 120)
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#9
(08-01-2020, 03:32 AM)openair Wrote: When you refer to the Sophia coursework being "that easy", it would be helpful to know your personal background. Are you the type of person who reads a lot of books on all kinds of different subjects? I know that I am this kind of person. That's going to impact your  learning experience. Have you completed a lot of college-level credit prior to enrollment? I did. That's going to determine your experience. During the free promotion, we've had people talking about their struggles with completing certain Sophia courses, while others found the same courses to be an "easy, breezy experience." Are you the type of person who always did well in math at all levels? You might find the Sophia math courses fairly easy. Are you a single mom who struggled with math in high school and then dropped out altogether? You might have a much harder time with the courses and wish that they were more accessible. Were you always good at writing essays? You might find the Sophia English Composition courses to be easy.

Before the end of the free promotion, I've picked up the "Principles of Finance" course to see whether I could finish it super fast. I didn't have any background with the subject. Guess what happened? I've failed. I also had to do "Accounting" twice and only passed it on my second attempt. Your experience is just that...your experience. You're being unduly critical.

That's a good point that the difficulty is very relative. I do have a lot of college-level-credit and experience with exams. I completed almost my entire degree at TESU with exams. So that experience could very well have helped me. It would be tough to figure out just how much of an advantage I have because of those things, you're right. But maybe I should clarify, compared to all of the Study.com, CLEP, DSST, and Straighterline exams I've taken, many of which were social sciences, it seemed much easier and so much shorter.

I struggled a lot with almost every CLEP exam I took, and with the Study.com courses I was able to pass some with very little study - even in a day, but their final exams were much longer and didn't seem like "free" questions. The Sophia final actually seemed easier than the rest of the module courses, like they were trying to make sure you passed. But again, that might have just been my experience or the course I took. Maybe I should have tried a more difficult Sophia course and I may have failed. 

The Ancient Greek Philosophers course also surprised me because it's only one unit and worth 3 credit hours. 

I'm not trying to be hypocritical, I'm certainly not above a quick and easy pass. I took that free ethics course that most people were able to complete in less than an hour and I wasn't complaining. It just worries me to think that it might be getting so large scale that people might start to see ACE or credit by exam in general as less legitimate.

(08-01-2020, 06:52 AM)PrettyFlyforaChiGuy Wrote: My own anecdotal experience taking Sophia's U.S. History I and II for fun is that, even after picking up 5's in AP History courses from way back in high school and a couple minors in History fields to boot, I still felt like the way they framed the course was really conducive the learning the same material in a new way. Actually, for me, their overarching emphasis on the different "lenses" of historiography led to several insights of a subject that I already loved dearly.

I definitely could have zoomed through the course and taken the milestones--and I just as definitely would have missed a few answers here or there--but I really took my time through the material to soak it all in since it felt like catching up with an old friend after a long break. It's possible to walk away from familiar subjects with new understandings, just like it's possible to run down the "easy" path and power through the material. Both speeds are just as valid as the other, depending on how you want/need to approach the material. Different students will approach their learning modules in different ways.

(This paragraph is just an irrelevant personal side-rant, but when I read Sophia course evaluations that claim the History curriculum is "liberal" because it goes beyond bullets and blood to consider socioeconomic issues, I mean, woosh; that's kind of one of the key takeaways of this entry-level, four-century overview: students studying history shouldn't close their minds off to reevaluating their understanding of their place in the world and how they operate among the systems in place within it.)

Yeah it looks like they have some really awesome timelines! I do love their materials. I was very impressed with the material in the Psychology course. They actually make useful comparisons and organize the material so you can understand things in context. They're also concise but provide enough information. I went through the Psychology material very slowly but never got to the end. I had a friend who needed to take the Psychology CLEP and I suggested she use the free Sophia course to prep. She passed using only the free Sophia resources and an REA practice test to prepare. So I definitely think their resources are adequate to be comparable to the other providers. I just felt like the final exams were a bit of a gimmick, but clearly from the other responses - that's just me haha. 

On your side-rant - yeah I haven't taken that course but it seems like that's very relevant to the subject! I'm not sure what the point of everyone learning history is if wer aren't trying to help ourselves learn from the past in somewhat applicable ways to the present and future.

(08-01-2020, 08:49 AM)tallpilot Wrote: Is a 100 level survey course for non-majors supposed to be hard? They wouldn't be hard at a brick and mortar school either, they would just take months and cost more. Welcome to the future of education.

Super on board with the future of education. I finished my BSBA at TESU almost entirely by exam. You're right, they're pretty easy at brick and mortar schools too which is part of why I'm a huge proponent of CLEP, Study.com, Straighterline, etc. My thinking is that if you're able to pass an exam that is similar to the difficulty of a community college final, then you shouldn't have to take the drawn out 15-16 week course. 

I would love to see this degree path become much more mainstream. But I worry if the Sophia isn't going to hinder that? If not because of difficulty then because of how unregulated it is? 

As far as difficulty goes, I might have taken one of the easiest courses they offer, or had more background in the subject than I realized. But what about the exam being completely open book? Like I said, I didn't remember anything about not opening other browser tabs (someone please correct me if that's against the Sophia rules) and there isn't really anything to make sure someone else isn't taking the test for you or sitting next to you to help. 


When I tell people about these online course providers one of the first questions people ask is "How do they know you aren't cheating?" The web-cam proctoring does a great job of that. 

Like I said, I took some non-proctored courses for my degree I'm not above it. People shouldn't cheat because it's wrong not because they won't get caught. But if most of your LL courses are non-proctored does that start to ruin the way this degree path is perceived? Although I know some people will never get on board anyway, can't win 'em all!

(08-01-2020, 11:26 AM)cecilgambe7 Wrote: As it was mentioned before, I guess this depends predominantly on your background...

For me sociology takes longer that you, U.S. Histroy 1 and 2 takes me so long, and English composition I takes me 38 days (of course grading time delays it).

But i finish Statistcs an Algebra in two days, i actually could finish each course in just one day.

Of course i have a strong math background, so i almost don't need to read anything to complete both math realted courses...

Nice! I'm sure I couldn't have gone through the math courses as quickly as you did. I'm a disaster when it comes to math.

(08-01-2020, 08:27 AM)ctcarl Wrote: It's been said before but it bears repeating, it's posts like this one that make me realize, this site is at once the best and the worst thing to happen to alternative degree students.

Haha, a little harsh don't you think? I love alternative degree programs and I want to see them keep getting more and more popular. There are so many problems with colleges I could go on for days. I just wanted to open up this discussion to see if this community thought the difficulty and or the proctoring method in Sophia courses might hurt how these alternative degree methods are perceived by new colleges considering accepting ACE or employers.
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#10
(08-01-2020, 11:26 AM)cecilgambe7 Wrote: As it was mentioned before, I guess this depends predominantly on your background...

For me sociology takes longer that you, U.S. Histroy 1 and 2 takes me so long, and English composition I takes me 38 days (of course grading time delays it).

But i finish Statistcs an Algebra in two days, i actually could finish each course in just one day.

Of course i have a strong math background, so i almost don't need to read anything to complete both math realted courses...

And I struggled a great deal with College Algebra. I watched every video and did every single problem. I got an A, but I worked REALLY hard for that A. I signed up for Stats yesterday and expect the same struggles. 

Introduction to Information Technology I completed in less than 18 hours. How? I just took a MIS course at my university and most the material was covered in that course. I also didn't read the challenges or watch a single video. I just went through it to complete it before the free offer ended. I got an A, but I just learned most of the material! I'm definitely not bragging about completing it in 18 hours either. 

Ethics kicked my butt hard. I dropped it. It was that hard. Time was running out so I had to make a decision. Environmental Science was a breeze for me and I HATE science classes, but found this one to be very interesting and it turns out I knew a great deal of the info already.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Everyone's mileage will vary.

Many professors at brick & mortar colleges and universities allow for open book finals. Many allow a sheet with formulas and info written down. So that argument doesn't hold water. There are plenty of kids who don't show up to class all semester long and only appear for the midterm and final. Many of those will get an A. Is that fair? Life's not fair. Get over it. Maybe they took the course in high school. Maybe they spend time at the library studying in a manner which works best for them. Sitting in a lecture for 3 hours a week doesn't really help most people. I've had professors who spent the 3 hours each week reading the freaking textbook to me! Thanks I learned how to read at a very young age. I don't need a professor to read to me. Total waste of everyone's time.
***************************************************************************************************

BS Organizational Leadership - CSU Global - anticipated graduation February 2021

AAS Business Administration - community college
AS Individual Studies - community college

Sophia: Environmental Science, Developing Effective Teams, The Essentials of Managing Conflict, College Algebra, Visual Communication, Microeconomics, Introduction to Information Technology

Sophia - in progress: Introduction to Ethics, Human Biology, Conflict Resolution, Introduction to Statistics, English Composition II

Up next SDC: Business Ethics, Digital Marketing and Advertising, Management Ethics
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