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Saylor.org Student Diary: The Final Entry

Our writer Sarah has been taking a Shakespeare course through Saylor.org for the past few months. Thanks to the self-directed format, she's been able to complete the course in her own time, and she's finally done. Find out what her experience has been like!

By Sarah Wright

shakespeare

Reflections on the End

It's been a fun ride, but I'm finally done with the online Shakespeare class I've been taking through Saylor.org. If you've been following my diaries on the subject, you probably know that it's been a while since I began. The fact is that as a working adult, I didn't have as much time to devote to a class as I did when I was a full-time student. That's a great advantage to the self-directed online class format. I had the option to focus on other things and come back to the class when I could.

Even when I took a few weeks off from the class, it made no difference in the progress of my education. Everything was still there on the site, nothing had changed and I wasn't penalized for having missed anything. I didn't have to catch up on assignments or exams. The low-pressure aspect made it easier to see the class as more of a fun, informative exercise than a stressful obligation, which was great. This approach wouldn't necessarily work for people with more pressing educational needs, but for me, the class was much more for personal enrichment and enjoyment than anything else.

Final Assignments

At this point, I only had a small amount of reading to do to complete the course. The final unit focuses on poetry, so I read some of Shakespeare's sonnets as my final assignment. I genuinely enjoy reading poetry, not only because it's fun to read and analyze but because it's always impressive to me how poets manage to find the right words to fit in with the rhyme scheme and meter they're using. The sonnets I read for the class are particularly impressive, since these types of poems have such strict guidelines for how they are to be composed. Shakespeare's plays are great, but for me, his poetry truly shows off what a good writer he was.

After I finished the sonnets, the only thing left to do was to take the final exam. In order to do this, I had to register for an account with Saylor.org, something I hadn't been made to do previously. Ordinarily, I don't like being forced to register for an account online, but it made sense here. I think this would be especially helpful for students who are taking multiple classes and want to keep a record of how they've done on their tests. Registration required a minimal amount of personal info, which is always appreciated. After I registered, I was able to take the test in my Web browser after agreeing to an honor code about not cheating by looking up answers.

Taking the Exam

It took me about half of the allotted two hours to take the exam, which consisted of 50 multiple-choice questions about specific details from plays and secondary readings. This test format has always frustrated me, since I don't think it truly tests your knowledge and understanding - it's easy to guess correct answers, and just makes students demonstrate their ability to memorize and regurgitate facts. For humanities subjects, I think tests that require analysis and argument are more effective. But I understand why that kind of test format isn't really possible in the context of an online course. My personal problems with multiple-choice tests aside, I think this one did a good job covering information from throughout the class.

My final score was 41/50, or 82%. That's pretty good, I think, considering that I was going from memory and didn't take notes or study before taking the quiz. That's probably about what I would have scored on a similar test given in a traditional class. Like I said, multiple-choice tests have never been my thing. I only took a few such tests in college, but I took a lot in high school, and the 80-90% range was pretty typical for me, so going off of that alone, I'd say that this class was pretty effective. I'm kind of sad that the class is over, but I'm really glad that I can go back to Saylor.org at any time and take another. It's been a great experience.

Are you, like Sarah, sad this class is over? Relive the magic and check in with Sarah's week one experiences all over again!'


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