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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

www.myitlab.com

I can’t ever think of a time when a website has ever angered me to the point of writing a blog or a review about it, but www.myitlab.com has. I feel stupid for even wanting to write a blog about it, but I feel that I need to vent some frustration and to warn people of taking online classes using this pathetic excuse of teaching people computer knowledge and skills. So, “let’s just jump right into it”…

Written For Nerds By Nerds
Revenge Of The Nerds…So unless you’re a computer geek or a nerd (and yes, there is a difference), you WILL have problems using myITlab. It’s extremely obvious that everything from the website design to even the teaching style, this website was written by nerds for nerds who wrote the website and who also already know 95+% of the material (explained below). I’ve had to help several fellow classmates via e-mail on how to use and navigate through this website. And don’t even bother with their Help, either (also explained below).

Help?!?!?! You don’t need no stinking help!!!
The Ren and Stimpy ShowThe “help” on the website is also very lacking. It mostly contains very obvious, useless information. The best detailed, step-by-step information I could find on how to use and navigate through the website was written by a college that also uses myITlab by doing a Google search. I had to e-mail this link to the other classmates who were having problems. Is it me, or does this seem unacceptable?

WTF?!?!?!
The wording used for the different chapters and tasks is very confusing. Here are two examples using Microsoft Word Chapter One section:
  1. You watch a “Chapter 5 PowerPoint Presentation” for Word Chapter 1. Huh, what?! But it doesn’t actually indicate anywhere in the description that that the presentation is actually for Word Chapter 1. Since there’s nothing anywhere to indicate what I need to do first, I skipped over this presentation (thinking it was a part of Chapter 5 that was accidentally misplaced in the Chapter 1 section) and a couple of the other tasks and went straight into Steps #4 and #5 before completing Steps #1 – 3 first. But not until after I had completed the Word Chapter 1 section did I realize what steps I needed to complete first when I reached the Word Chapter 2 section.
  2. The first two projects we had to do for Word Chapter 1 was called Projects 5A and 5B. Where in the hell did the other four projects go?! Did I miss them somewhere?! I was very worried that I was going to fail these non-existent projects because I couldn’t find them anywhere on the website.
It’s like this for all 13 Microsoft Office chapters and the nine chapters in the other book. Wow, I think my daughter’s kindergarten class is better organized than this. Very, very sad indeed.

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
Mr. RobotoInstead of “teaching” you information that you “learn”, you feel more-or-less “programmed” from the amount of information they throw at you. Remember in The Matrix movie series how they could upload information from a computer directly to their brain on how to do stuff immediately? Try attempting the same feat without the benefit of the “data-jack” (the hardware they used to connect their brain to a computer), then you get the idea.The Matrix So, unless your brain works like a sponge or you have photographic memory, you’ll probably need to re-read the material several times to absorb everything that they want you to remember, but also keep in mind that you are timed while doing some of the material. Also be aware to memorize a lot of useless definitions and terminologies that’s never actually ever used in a real work environment, but most educational institutions are like that, anyways.

Aaahhh!!! The Lag Monster Got Me!!!
Another common problem I've ran into is that the myITlabs server(s) will lag terribly sometimes, especially during the most important learning process of watching the Chapter Audio/Video Demonstrations. So, as you're listening to the audio, you may notice that the video will start to lag behind the audio, so that it doesn't match-up, and only continues to get worse during the Chapter Audio/Video Demonstration. When this happens, the Demonstration is pointless and useless, because the narrator starts talking about the steps in a new topic while the video is still showing the steps involved in the previous topic. And how I know it's the myITlab server(s) and not my computer is because I can immediately watch a YouTube or Google Video and don't have the same problem. When this happens, you might as well try again later when fewer people are using myItlab, such as really late at night or very early in the morning.

Are You Color Vision Deficient? We’re Sorry.
The Number "49", Unseen By Those Like MeJust a little tidbit for those of you out there who was born with color vision deficiency (also known as color blindness, although they are different) who’s also looking into taking online classes on myITlabDON’T!!! Take it from someone who is color vision deficient, the colors they use for what they want you to type are NOT color-vision-deficient-friendly! To be more specific, in the bottom area of where they give you directions of what to do, the background that is used is light-blue, in which most dark colors, such as navy or black, usually stand out fine. However, the words they want you to type are in gold, which doesn’t stand out very well against the light-blue, and I have to squint very hard to read what they want me to type. Very frustrating during a timed test, and if you accidentally type something wrong, they count off for it, regardless whether you could read it clearly or not

My Way Or The Highway
The King's Highway 401 in Ontario, CanadaThe Microsoft Office suite tries to make it easier to use by offering multiple ways of accomplishing the same task. Because of this, people learn how to accomplish the same task using one of these multiple ways the best way they can remember how do to so. To me, this makes sense. A very basic example that most people know how to do in Microsoft Word is bolding text. However, many people don’t know that there are about five different ways of bolding text, yet we all accomplish this same task using one of these different ways. Some people prefer to use Buttons, Menus, Shortcut Menus, or Keyboard Shortcuts to do this. However, all of these different ways still accomplishes the same task, which is simply bolding text. However, myITlab teaches you all of these different ways, but only wants you to use one of them during a Test, but only gives you up to three attempts without ANY hints or clues as to which technique they want you to use. Do the math and see the problem? Five different ways, only three attempts, so you have about a 60% chance of actually doing it the way the Test wants you to do it (about a 40% of getting it wrong), even if your way still accomplishes the exact same task. If you use-up all three attempts, then you get counted off for it, as if you didn’t know how to complete this specific task at all. This has probably been the most common complaint I’ve heard from several other students, both current and previous. What if you can’t remember all of the five different ways to accomplish the same task, nor why should you ever have to remember all five techniques, anyways?! ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS!!!

Move A Picture To The Correct Location?! I Think Not!!!
Black And White PictureHAHA!!! This is a joke! When you are asked to insert or move a picture, wordart, or any object to an exact location, good luck! Even if you ask to "Show Me Hint", and you place the item exactly where it wants using the red arrows indicating where, it still says "Incorrect Action"! I even let my wife give it a try once for two reasons:
  1. To make sure that I wasn't just being "stupid" (in other words, that I understood exactly what it wanted me to do and to accurately attempted to replicate the directions).
  2. To prove my point to her of how ridiculous the website is to use.
I proved my point very easily and quickly to her. She gave up after a few tries, and also proved to me that it wasn't just me who was having issues following directions. If that wasn't bad enough, sometimes you can't skip the current step and I've had to submit unfinished work, often not passing the current Chapter Project. However, I can pass the Chapter Tests with flying colors since I can always skip any steps that I can't seem to satisfy myITlab with.

Conclusion
If I were grading myITlab like a college instructor, then it would receive an EPIC FAIL of 0 / F- (adding the “minus” for theatrical effects, of course). I can only hope that I can avoid using this website like the Black Plague of Death for any future, online classes; and recommend any other students to do the same. This is a college course I've had to take in the past a couple of times, and always passed it easily with an "A" (without having to use myITlab, of course). However, because of myITlab, I may barely pass this course a "C", which will hurt my 3.5+ GPA. My wife and my kids always know when I'm doing my homework on myITlab by the cursing and swearing in the next room.  myITlab is nothing but trouble.

12 comments:

Holly in Mass said...

I am currently attempting to take an intro to Microsoft Office course on-line which uses the myitlab system. This classes is absolutely driving me nuts. I am spending way too much time going in circles trying to figure out what the program wants me to do (you addressed the problem of different ways to accomplish one task), and still getting borderline passing grades. I've met with the professor and was told that everyone else is getting 100s on the projects, and I am the only person having any problems with this course. I may have to withdraw from this class, but that is an absolute last resort. But, without any support from the professor, I may have no choice. Note to self, I will avoid any future courses that use myitlab. And any with this professor!

Mickey said...

Your instructor is probably lying to you. For one, I personally think it's almost impossible to get all 100's using myITlab just because of the way it's setup. And two, many of the students in my online class have sent e-mails to each other back-and-forth letting each of us know of the problems we are having with myITlab. Even our instructor has replied to a few e-mails of his "distaste" with myITlab.com, but he's required to use it by our college, and that even our "sit-in" classes are required to use it. But you're definitely not alone, and I can almost guarantee you that many other students in your online class are also having similar issues.

The only advise I can give you is depending upon how your online myITclass is setup (different instructors sets it up differently for their class), I recommend following these steps for each chapter:

1. Watch the PowerPoint presentation(s) first to give you a quick overview of the chapter.
2. Watch the Project Audio/Video Demonstration(s) to give you better detail of the chapter. Be sure to have the captions and audio turned on and up, so you can hear and see what is going on.
3. Read through the chapter in your book. I recommend doing this AFTER Steps 1 - 3 just so you can mentally visualize what the book's chapter is covering after watching the PowerPoint presentation(s) and the Audio/Video Demonstration(s).
3a. If you're still having difficulties grasping the chapter's material, then I highly recommend to actually create the docs, spreadsheets, etc., yourself in your own personal copy of Microsoft Office, but this take a LOT more time! Maybe only do this at least for certain difficult tasks that are hard to remember. You don't have to type everything "word-for-word", but just enough to follow the same steps in the book.
4. Complete the "Study Guide" (or whatever they may call it in your online class) and try to follow along with your book. Try to remember each and every step they want you to do, because these steps will be repeated in your Chapter Test or Quiz!
5. Take the Chapter Test or Quiz.

Try to pay very close attention as to how they want you to do certain tasks in a specific order during the "Study Guides" (different instructors call it different things). The Chapter Test (or Quiz) will usually want you to accomplish these very same tasks in the exact same order as you did in the "Study Guides".

Outside of that, all I can say is good luck and try do your best. That's what most of us are having to do.

Anonymous said...

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Inersphobia said...

Thanks for blogging about this, Mickey. I am trying to get through a summer mini course with a professor who has a strict policy of "your problem is not my problem," and I can't get myitlab to let me drag a word from one spot to another. I can't even just skip the step and take the score hit. It's infuriating.

james said...

Mickey,

First of all, I want to say THANK YOU for letting me know I am not alone!!! I am taking an Intro to Computers class right now that uses Myitlab for ALL assignments, quizzes & tests. My disdain for this program grows with each chapter "Grader Project". By the way, you are not the only one who thought it was quite odd that they started with project #5!! Today, I could not even open the course content. I called their customer support # & it was suggested to me that the problem was that I had a 64 bit computer instead of a 32 bit. Funny, I have done 4 projects already & this issue has never come up before. I followed the instructions in the link she provided to change to 32 bit & guess what?? Still can not access MyITlab. It is NOT a prob w/my PC as I am able to access everything else but myITlab. I have e-mailed my professor who by the way, informs us problems w/myITlab need to be resolved with Pearson. Looks like I will have to take a 0 for this assignment. From now on, I will avoid any classes that use this program. As far as the "sensitivity" of this program you mentioned (clicking on something exactly as they demonstrate only to be given the wonderful INCORRECT ACTION) I had had the same exact experience several times. I really dread this class now!!

Mickey said...

Thanks everyone for posting a comment!

Inersphobia - It was extremely aggravating that you couldn't just skip moving an object where it wanted you to move it and just move onto the next part.

James - I know personally that there's no difference taking the course using either 32-bit or 64-bit Windows, because I've been running 64-bit Windows ever since Vista first came out in late 2006, and took the course while running 64-bit Windows. You just have to install the course's ActiveX into 32-bit IE7 or IE8 (which comes with all 64-bit Windows). No difference. I work for a major electronics retailer, and can honestly say that a large majority of the computers we sell are 64-bit Win7 computers. It's getting difficult to purchase computers running 32-bit Win7, except maybe entry-level computers. So, if it was a 64-bit issue, then it's still Pearson's fault for not updating their website for what's slowly becoming more popular to use. From what I've heard, Win7 is the last 32-bit OS that Microsoft will make for home PCs! In other words, after Win7, all versions of Microsoft Windows will only be 64-bit.

William Crait said...

Well just dumped some cash in their pockets- required by my college. Went through the install and that's where I remain...3 hours later! 64 bit OS not compatible with the 32 bit MyITLab. I could tell right away that my frustration level with this P.O.S. program was going to be epic!
Here I sit, fuming. I can't wait for the rest of this term >:?

Mickey said...

William - The 64-bit flavors of both Vista and 7 comes with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Internet Explorer, and MyITlab should work with the 32-bit version of Internet Explorer. Be sure to use the version of Internet Explorer that DOESN'T say "(64-bit)"!

gary said...

Boy do I know what you are saying well,my girlfriend is taking a myitlab course and it does EXACTLY what you are saying...of course the instructor seems to have the same type of software installed between her ears...will not accept there is a problem.My girl has had exactly the same issues on my,her,and all of the schools computers,though the school says it's my machine,I won't brag about the machine all I will say is "Yeah right"....to any and all considering a course that utilizes this software RUN LIKE HELL...I don't normally bitch but my woman has busted her ass to hold a 4.0 and has until myitcrap...don't want it,won't ever use it and really seing the damage done to students Pearsoned should be required to revamp the system,really start over,and make it up to everyone forced to use their barely functioning garbage...my rant sorry but really everyone needs to know...peace ya'll

Mickey said...

Inform your instructor that other instructors at other colleges recognize the issues. Because of all the issues, mine raised everyone's grades by one grade letter.

Mike Brookens said...

Yahoo! I'm not alone! I just finished a "On Hands Training" for Access on MyItLab. One the fourth tot last question I got stuck for over half an hour because of a bug in the program. At first I thought I was just making some tiny error. To make the long story short, the task was to fill in a formula in a box. Every time I did it, it was wrong, but if I did the "Hint" I would type the EXACT same thing and get it right! I finally copy-pasted the text from my answer that was wrong into the box for the hint. Lo and behold, it said the answer to the hint was right! Finally I just restarted my computer to kill MyItLab and restarted because I had no other way to make it work. It was calling the exact same set of input correct in the hint but incorrect in the actual question. THe second time through, it didnt error, so I was able to get it finished.

MMT said...

Is anyone using myitlab for Office 2013? I am curious if these issues are the same?