OK so I've never done a block course before and therefore had no idea what to expect. Maybe you're supposed to just know because it's common knowledge or something. But I didn't, and the timetable for the course that's been up since October last year did not mention that there were tutorials at all, never mind compulsory ones.
Each lecture is followed by a one-and-a-half hour tutorial. 30% of the course mark is based on attendance and participation.
To which I go "What are we, 12?"
Well, maybe we are. Maybe you'd be wasting $900 by not attending because you couldn't possibly absorb the stuff enough to pass if you didn't. But making it compulsory really rankles with me, especially because I arranged time off work for the course based on an assumed finish time of 2:30pm which would allow me to do a half-day of work after school each day. Now I can't and I had to do some fast talking with my (luckily understanding) boss in order to avoid wasting my money. I now officially have the next three weeks as study leave.
But really, that kind of requirement should be made clear before you sign up. Frankly, if I'd known this about the course when I enrolled I would have signed up for something else, like Pop Psych 101, to get the points - because it's going to leave me a week or so in the red for annual leave and three weeks behind at work. Some forewarning to help make an informed decision would have been nice.
So I wasn't in the best frame of mind when I wandered up there. Turns out the lecturer had an excuse for being so late with the course details - he'd been stuck in Antarctica. However that doesn't excuse the university for not providing full disclosure months ago.
Anyway, what did I learn today?
Lecture 1 was about climate systems and the things that are associated with climate change, including a definition of what climate change is. We looked at 'external forcings' such as our wobbly axis, volcanoes and sunspots, and 'internal forcings' such as greenhouse gases.
In the tutorial we brainstormed topics for research posters and ended up in groups to do them - yes, my final mark is partly dependent on other people. Two of the mature students sought me out because "You seem engaged." Alrighty then! Anyway, we're doing green tech (or greener tech), and will be focusing on what the hell that even means, along with NZ's attitude to it and our government's policy approach to it. Because I'm a wonk and damnit I'm interested in that.
Lecture 2 was about long term climate change (as in, thousands of millions of years' worth) and the various cycles the earth's gone through naturally, with a particular focus on the last 34 million years. We looked at the various ways that climate change can be measured, and a project in the Ross Sea that involved drilling down into the seabed using tech developed at Victoria University, and what information that gleaned.
In the tutorial we took a bunch of global figures for CO2 in the atmosphere, land surface temperature, deep sea temperature, and sea level, and calculated the rate of change over 34 million, 20,000, and 200 years, then the projections for these into the future. It's kind of depressing, with the exception of sea level which seems to be less of a big deal than the other things even though it's more in the news. Hmm.
So that's what we learned today. Don't worry, I won't be doing a blow by blow account of the whole course.
I was home by 5 and am still somewhat disgruntled about the lack of information (and about bloody compulsory tutorials!) - but I think it's probably a good thing overall that I'm not trying to work and do this at the same time. I suspect it will be quite intense.
Also, the delectable Dr Wheel should be almost in Hong Kong by now. Every day he's there is a day closer to him not being there. <3