#IS6621 Reflection: 3 Big Takeaways

I can’t believe it’s already the time to wrap things up for both this course and my undergraduate time at BC. Similar to many seniors who took this course, I consider #IS6621 as one of the most unconventional courses that I’ve taken at BC. I initially took the course as a good ISYS elective that meets once a week, but its unique syllabus, grading distribution and content provided me even better learning experience than some of the core ISYS concentration courses. As a parting note, I’d like to share my 3 main takeaways from the course with you all:

1. No procrastination is possible, even in an academic setting!

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Prior to committing myself to this course, I was one of many who was scared to take the course because of Professor Kane’s warning message, which said: “For those of you who cram for midterm/final exams and do well in a course, your strategy won’t work in #IS6621.” Keeping up with the work constantly, i.e. no more procrastination, was my biggest concern in taking the course, and I expressed this concern in my first blog post. However, I have safely kept myself away from procrastination throughout the semester (for this very course at least), and I overcame my primary fear in taking #IS6621, which I am very proud of. This course is designed so that procrastination is pretty much impossible, and I am glad that I was able to train myself and keep up with the work each week. I am sure many others who struggle with procrastination have felt the same, and I am grateful for the opportunity to fight back my urge to procrastinate.

2. Exams may not be the best way to learn a material (or be evaluated).

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This takeaway may be obvious, but I thought it is still important to highlight. If you see most BC courses’ format (or any university courses), exams take up a huge portion of the overall grade. Although I still agree that exams are good way to measure students’ understanding of the material and have no opposition to the “traditional” format, the goal often becomes simply scoring high on the exam instead of truly learning the material (at least my case) by the end of the term. Naturally, people want to do well in a course, and since an exam is the primary way to evaluate their performance, they focus too much on doing well on the exam. For this course, however, there was no pressure for a particular assignment or exam (we had no exam, duh); rather, the pressure was spread all over the assignments evenly. Learning the material and talking about it with a valuable insight were the core principles of evaluation for us, which were shown via different types of deliverables via presentations, blogging, class participations, and even tweeting. Everyone still wants to perform well in the course, but the focus is shifted from “I need a 100 on this exam” to “I need to know this week’s material to share a valuable insight.” Under this “system,” I was able to have an effective learning experience instead of seeking the best way to score 100 on an exam by studying previous exams and trying to guess what would appear on the exam.

3. No specific guideline for an “A” pushes me to perform better.

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I believe this takeaway is unique for #IS6621 even among many courses without exams. Often, there is a clear guideline on the syllabus that describes a student who would get an A, A-, B+, and so on. Although we had weekly assignments that we had to fulfill for minimum, it was a simple guideline for a B+, not beyond. Having no perfect criterion for an “A” in the course gave me a huge pressure, and this in fact has pushed me to put more effort into the course and perform “better” than simply doing the requirement to get a certain grade. When I talked to Professor Kane regarding my concerns towards my performance in the class, this takeaway became clearer where I performed better without a set guideline for the highest grade in the course. In reality, this is applicable to any work scenario where I will be given tasks to finish, but it solely depends on me to figure out what I must do in order to excel instead of doing decently. My blogs, comments and tweets have been more active and engaging since the midterm evaluation, and the “unknown A standard” played a large role in helping me push myself to participate more in the course. In the end, I got more out of it, which I am very grateful for.

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I often like to take a step back and reflect on the things I’ve done and received, and having takeaways from each event/action has been helpful for me to apply those lessons in my next journey. I’m sure yours are different from mine, and I would love to hear your takeaway as well. The more lessons, the better we can prepare for our next milestone! It’s been a pleasure to have gotten known you all, #IS6621.

Thanks for reading!

Jobabes121

7 comments

  1. danmiller315 · ·

    I think you make a lot of great points here. I think the reason why this structure works so well is that a lot of topics that we discussed are really abstract, so it would be difficult for Professor Kane to come up with multiple choice questions that would test our knowledge of blockchain and artificial intelligence. I also think that the emphasis on reading one another’s blogs and tweets created a unique environment in which we were creating content for one another while at the same time meeting a requirement for the class. Nice reflection!

  2. HenryChenChen · ·

    I agree with you 3 points, I also feel the same that exam may not be the best way to learn a material, but it might be the most easy way. The way our course evaluating our grades is extremely complicated, it measures our performance in different ways. I really appreciate such model which helps me to learn a lot from the others.

  3. kseniapekhtere1 · ·

    You brought up a lot of good points in your blog post. I also realised that I have learned so much in this class without any exams. Reading blog post, using Twitter and seeing presentations is a more engaging way to learn than simply reading a textbook and doing homework problems after. And because it is more fun I think it comes more natural. I also realized I retain more information this way. I usually forget more than half of the material a week after the exam but I feel like I will remember a lot of the topics from blogs and presentations we have covered for a long time. Also I agree with you that not having a direct guideline on how to get an A is frustrating, but it definitely prepares you for real life and working when no one will tell you exactly what to do. You will just have to do your best, be creative and relax a little bit. After 5 years of studying this class showed me that learning process is more important than getting a certain grade.

  4. markdimeglio · ·

    Dude this was a great post. I enjoyed all of your takeaways.

    My favorite takeaway that you posted is the idea that you did better without any specific guidelines for an “A”. I was listening to an interview with Peter Thiel on the subject of why innovation in some areas of our society is declining. He argued that innovation is lacking in part by the way people are educated in our society. We are encouraged to make incremental improvement over prior knowledge and do so in a way that is slightly better than those around.

    As you mentioned, once we remove that frame of thinking, it can actually allow us to flourish. Once we start focusing on doing our best rather than doing something according to guidelines, we focus in a way that gets the best out us. Great post again and I look forward to hearing your insights in our final class!

  5. mmerckbc · ·

    One of the things I enjoyed most about the structure of this class was the readings. In a lot of college classes, the readings are dry and it can be difficult to understand why the professor assigned it. Definitely not the case for IS6621. I found almost all of the readings to be relevant not only to our class discussions but also to current events. In regards to meeting the ‘A’ standard, I think you’re definitely in a good spot, Jo. You’ve been such a great contributor on Twitter, on the blog, and in class – I hope your hard work is rewarded!

  6. JohnWalshFilms · ·

    Like many of the sentiments above, I really loved this post and your focus on the educational approach and the affects it has on motivation. As a self-proclaimed procrastinator and someone who admittedly did not keep up with the class as much as you did, I am kicking myself not over grades, but because I felt as though I missed out on valuable opportunities to learn, and perhaps even more motivating, more opportunities to benefit from the social capital of the class. It’s awesome when you feel you’re learning so much from your peers – in the form of tweets, blogs, and even blog comments – and that’s something that I think was so valuable about this class – it was a real-world example of the motivation that comes from networks and social capital. When you’re education is about much more than yourself, it puts things in sharp perspective…

  7. jjaeh0ng · ·

    I have noticed you working really hard and putting a lot of effort into this class. Your first point on push yourself to fight back against procrastination was one that I could empathize the most. My experiences were opposite to yours as I struggled from it until the end of semester. Harsh senioritis struck me since the beginning of a senior year. I wish I stepped up to push myself a bit harder, but the past is past, so I have to learn from mistakes. I will never forget about the lesson from this class “NO MORE PROCRASTINATION” wherever I go after the graduation. Really appreciate the enthusiasm you have shown to the class. Great works, and wish you all the best man.

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