Wonderful Features, Apex. Not!

closeThis post was published 12 years 8 months 29 days ago. A number of changes have been made to the site since then, so please contact me if anything is broken or seems wrong.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I take AP classes at my school through an online portal from Apex Learning. That said, I am less than satisfied with their software.

First of all, in the complete opposite functionality of Blackboard Academic Suite (the portal for the regular classes), the discussions in Apex have no threads. Navigating conversations is very difficult, since there is no threading, indenting, nesting, or any other helpful feature.

Second, the course window times out after a certain period (I haven’t timed it, but it’s pretty short). It gives a very annoying error if you’ve just been off getting more information on the current subject elsewhere on the Internet. Fixing it requires closing the window and reloading the course, which brings me to my next point:

Third, the courses take about 10 seconds to launch even a window, and this is an eternity in Internet time. I attribute this to the probable use of complex JavaScript to launch the windows, instead of simply targeting them with target=”_blank” or target=”courses”. And clicking one course closes the window of another, so studying two or more courses at a time is impossible (well, maybe with two or more browsers it’s possible). (Update: The time, 10 seconds, has increased to 26 seconds with the upgrade to Firefox 2.0. The upgrade has helped me with my extension problems [check my other posts [1, 2] for details], but made Apex’s software worse.)

Fourth, the calendar is incredibly simple, and provides for no information other than the abbreviated course name and the section number that is due. It would be nice to have what each section is available without loading the course window.

Fifth, the other reports provided all open their own stupid little windows, and are very ridiculous to get to. First one clicks the “Reports” link in the sidebar of the main window. Then the “Student” button must be clicked, which brings up a list of courses (in one of those stupid new windows). Third, one must click the course name, which brings up another new window with course assignments in it, complete with irritating CSS formatting and a very annoying table that can’t be scrolled with the mouse wheel. This leaves two extra windows and the main window on the wrong page to continue work. Also, if one is further along in the course than the first “page” of grades will show, scrolling down to the bottom of the stupid little grade window and guessing the page number that is desired is the only way to get there. And it’s not like the window would ever dream of being tall enough to eliminate scrolling…

Sixth and finally, Apex has decided to use ASP.NET for their server language. Which means all the pages end in “.aspx”. Which means they supported Micro$loth. Which means they’re tethered by proprietary code, instead of using something open-source like PHP.

Couple all of this with the way their teachers teach (like by refusing to give correct answers to multiple-choice test questions so students can actually learn from their mistakes, claiming that they need to maintain the “integrity” of the tests) and the way the courses are structured, and the final product is a recipe for “me no go back next semester”.

dgw

I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

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