I have nothing but contempt for VC251

I really don't love writing excessively negative things, but I feel the urgent need to express my disdain for one of the classes I've had the "joy" of taking this semester, VC251. It took me two or three semesters to even get into the class, and as a result of EMF252 (the UTV62 class), I was unable to take it in-person, so this semester I was finally able to get into (and therefore even able to consider settling for) an online section of the class.

To put it lightly, Online VC251 is a special kind of hell that I would never wish upon anyone, unless they didn't have other classes. The entire course, which is conducted via WebCT Vista, is very poorly organized, and the bulk of the instructional material comes from these two books we were told to buy, Adobe Photoshop CS3 Classroom in a Book and Adobe Illustrator CS3 Classroom in a Book.

So we work through the lessons in these books, which in a way, are very remedial and basic lessons, which serve almost more as an introduction to the very concept of "photoshop" and "illustrator." And immediately thereafter we're expected to do a complicated project involving type, compositing multiple photographs and a poem. A poem! For the Illustrator section, we learn selections, layers, LiveTrace, creating some simple shapes, and a few other little things, and immediately thereafter we're expected to trace a comic book cover.

A few very fortunate people were able to find very, very simple comic books, with no shading of any sort, no background to speak of, and only one or two characters with maybe one prop. Unfortuantely, after three or four pages of google image results, all I was able to find were hellaciously difficult comic covers. Add to that a lack of any real text other than the title, and you've got a manageable assignment. Unfortunately, since we were told to find our own comics, and I didn't want to spend three hours looking for that simple comic, I ended up using a quite difficult comic to trace. Hilariously enough, one involving fair use. The original image can be seen here.

And this was just a few hours before it was due, because I'd forgotten it in favor of completing projects for my in-person classes, taking calls, and other miscellaneous shenanigans. So I started looking at the image, and realized that the assignment involved tracing with Illustrator's pen tool. "oops."

A lot of this was my own shortsightedness, needless to say I really should have skipped out on both weekend overnights, and classes/work on Monday and Tuesday in order to work through the project and get everything done. I think that with that much time, working straight through, I might have gotten a simple version of the image completed. I ended up using Illustrator's Live Trace tool, which we were "kind of" told not to use. I got the image done and it looks great, but I'm not sure what kind of grade I'll get on it.

The project in and of itself is not too bad an idea, although I think it's totally inappropriate for a Freshman VC class, and almost more importantly, I'm fairly certain that the class itself is totally inappropriate for freshman Photo majors. In a pre-PHO382/199/282 era, I bet it's main purpose was to introduce Freshman/Sophomore photo majors to the idea of Photoshop, but between what we learned in my 382 class, and the fact that I've already worked through several incarnations of the Photoshop CIB during high school, the Photoshop part of the class was really easy.

I think the projects for Illustrator have been hellacious, unnecessary and completely out of line, as far as the actual skill set of someone meeting the prerequisites for this class are concerned, and a more appropriate tutorial, like something involving an actual comic, and something being an actual tutorial, would have been very much appreciated.

Purely for the purpose of making sure I know how to use Illustrator, I may this summer go back through the CIB on it, although as a result of my contempt for and disappointment with VC251, I may just trash all of my files related to the class and pack the books away somewhere.

I really am disappointed that this is how I end the semester... with such strong contempt for this class, but I feel cheated, having paid the tuition and lab fees for this class, when about 90% of the learning materials were a pair of $50 books from the vendor of the apps in question. The class itself was very poorly organized, so if the instructor did provide any information, I never found it until it was too late. That, and I've always thought the entire point of an online class was the ability to work at your own pace, and see everything coming up in advance. I don't even think this class had a syllabus, and if it did, there was no warning at all about the assignments coming up.

Don't take Online VC251. Trust me, and if you don't trust me, trust Brandy. If you have to take VC251, do everything in your power to take it in-person, even if it costs you more in supplies, or in printing.

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