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Students demand BTM200 be economically friendly

by Savanna Craig October 25, 2016
Students demand BTM200 be economically friendly

JMSB student creates petition in protest of high fees for mandatory BTM 200 course

In light of discovering a required fee of over $200 for the mandatory John Molson School of Business (JMSB) course, “Business Technology Management,” BTM 200, some first-year JMSB students are signing a petition to protest against what they consider costly fees.

Samuel Miriello, creator of the petition and first-year human resource management student, said he was not aware of these fees until he received an email from his professor mid-September prompting him to pay more than $200 for the class.

“Online classes are amazing and they give us access to tools that make learning easier, but it doesn’t warrant the school making us pay tuition and not giving us class sessions,” said Miriello. He said with his other online classes, there is a virtual classroom and the class meets once a week. However, this is not the case in BTM 200.“The professor never hosts sessions that we can attend where he does any live teaching,” he said.

Miriello said the different components of BTM 200 are distributed across three websites, each with their own fees—$90 to access the eConcordia website, $20.70 for LearningLab—a software providing grades and due dates, and $104.95 for Skills Assessment Manager Cengage (SAM)—a website which teaches students how to use Excel and Access.

“Every website has it’s own quizzes, it’s own material, it’s own modules and you kind of have to jump between them,” Miriello said.

Raafat George Saadé, an associate professor of supply chain and business technology management, and the creator and coordinator of BTM 200, said LearningLab has a low cost and helps to guide students through the 12 activities within the course.

Students express frustration over paying more than $200 for BTM200. Graphic by Florence Yee.

Students express frustration over paying more than $200 for BTM200. Graphic by Florence Yee.

Saadé said LearningLab allowed him to consolidate all of the students performances into one location and to sequence their activities. He said the LearningLab provides reminders of the due dates for students and provides a report for Saadé on how much students achieved on each of their learning goals.

On eConcordia, only three per cent of the student’s grade is evaluated, said Miriello.

However, Saadé explained the three per cent accounts only for the quizzes on eConcordia—however, the final exam, worth 60 per cent, is based on the eBook available through eConcordia. Saadé said SAM makes up 20 per cent of the final grade. The activities on LearningLab are worth 17 per cent.

“When we take BTM, no one ever tells you that you’re going to have to pay so much money,” said international business student Saloné Prigent. “At least I’d like a warning that we’d have to pay this to take BTM, especially because BTM is a mandatory course.” She added, with three websites to keep up with, it’s hard to keep track of when assignments are due.

Sepideh Zangeneh, an international student from Mexico studying international business, said Miriello’s idea of making a petition was great, and though she may have financial support to pay the BTM 200 fees, not all students have this privilege. “There are people [who] are on their own in universitythey don’t have the money to pay that,” said Zangeneh. “More than for me, I want this for people who really can’t afford stuff like this.”

Saadé said, after paying the required fee for SAM, it can be accessed until graduation and is officially used in two to three courses within JMSB. He said he is trying to make these fees valuable for students by implementing more courses where Excel and Access can be used, requiring students to use SAM.

“This is not new,” said Saadé, towards students complaining of the high fees required when taking BTM 200. Saadé said he has tried switching website hosts various times, but this is the lowest price he can get. “When I started, I looked at all the different softwares and at companies like Microsoft and other publishers,” said Saadé. He said all publishers range in price from $60 to $180. “Over the years I’ve experienced each one—one by one,” said Saadé.

Miriello said the website is still not up to par with his expectations considering the cost. ”It’s just ironic that our intro to business technology management is taught in such an uninspired, expensive and cluttered way. The complete opposite of what BTM should be,” he said.

Saadé said he has 1,500 students and asks them at the end of every class if the book was good, if they learned anything from the quiz, if there should be any improvements and what their opinions are on using SAM. “Over 90 per cent of the students, they say they see the value,” he said.

Saadé said in certain circumstances he has waived students either from taking the course or paying the cost of it. He said, in the past, he has contacted the program provider and they suspended the cost for SAM or LearningLab. Alternatively, if a student can demonstrate they know the material, they do not have to take BTM 200, he said. “If they really have financial problems, I can personally try to figure out ways to help” said Saadé. He said some semesters he is not approached, however others he may receive up to five students requesting financial help.

Saadé said many students in co-op, who gain job experience through paid work-terms, have told him that they felt they had not learned enough in Excel and Access. “They come back and say, ‘We need to learn more—we took BTM 200 and it’s not enough. Can we learn more advanced stuff?’” said Saadé.

The winter semester version of the course will have a brand new website, feature more activities and be more interactive, said Saadé. “Because of the nature of the course also, every two years I have to update the content,” he said, adding that SAM updates itself as well. Saadé is also in the process of creating a follow-up course to BTM 200 that will hopefully be released this year.

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