Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction (2)

This post was going to wait until the course was finished, and should have been a tadbit different, but something happened today that had made me a bit miffed.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction course has three grading points:

  • Three quizzes
  • Five “guest author” questions, one for each of them
  • An essay, which had to:
    1. identify a primary source (an original document / object / place…)
    2. add a link to it or an explanation of why a link was not included (i.e. you used something not on the Internet)
    3. be over 10 sentences
    4. be handed in at a fixed point in time, for which you had a countdown (total time circa 20 days)

After that you check points 1-3 on five essays (“peer evaluation”), and that’s all folks.

Except now the deadline has been extended. It has been pointed out that I am a horrible person for not wanting Philippines people to get their certificate of completion. But let be honest here, while I admit that a natural disaster sucks and that people who have been through the typhoon need a break and leeway, these are other reasons I have found:

  • It was Thanksgiving. Who puts a deadline in the middle of a holiday??
  • Messed up time zones
  • Assumed the time was 23:59 and not 00:00
  • Had it done, but I wanted to send it last minute
  • Did not log in before that day
  • Signed up for the course after the deadline was passed
  • Mistook the deadline for the deadline of another course / issue


I believe that generally extending a deadline is a mistake. It lowers the quality of the course, as the requirements become more on the lax side. There are ways to deal with individual cases, such as those affected by a natural disaster, and can be done. It requires more effort, yes, but can be done. Furthermore, for a free course, reputation is everything, and now a precedent has been set – just whine, even if your reasons are “I can’t read a clock”, and the deadline will be moved. Because the instructor wrote that “it had been poor planning on his part to set the deadline in the middle of a holiday” anyway, so it was his fault, right?

This also pushes forward the clock for assessing your peers. I am done, but many people are not. Now those people are falling behind with their schedules, blocked for 48 more hours (which is time to “post if you’re done”. Hah. Ten sentences and we have a list of archives right there. It IS doable in an hour. Not that I believe many people would do it anyway, start from scratch when they have already missed the deadline once). So now we either have less time for the peer evaluation, or the deadline for that will also be extended and the results will be in later and people will complain that they’ll have less time for the quizzes and… It could go on and on forever.

All in all, I think that extending the deadline was a poor idea. When you want something free to have quality you need to put effort on reputation, and this, silly thing as it might sound to you, is unfair. It reduces the quality of any certificate of completion that can be obtained, because the grading criteria are not rigorous at all, they are accommodating and bendable beyond the human condition of wanting to give a hand to someone who has found themselves in the middle of a natural disaster.

Because of Thanksgiving or misreading the clock? That is where quality dies down.

Just to be very clear here: Giving Philippine students a second chance, I agree with. Giving everyone a second chance, just because, I disagree with. I believe there could have been another way to deal with the situation.


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