6 Years Ago: Gattaca & The Followup

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Friday Thirsty on that Lousy LMS. From the Academic Madame Librarian.

My class didn't make, so I was allowed to convert them to independent study for a 5th of the money. But I needed filthy lucre, so I'm now committed.

This is my first goddamn time teaching a 100% online course. And my first time teaching anything longer than a three part workshop all by myself. And my first time working with this damned LMS as anything other than a student.

It lost my pictures, diligently uploaded and selected to go with the content, for my visual learners.

It somehow moved all of my files, so my quick links no longer work (which a student informed me of - yes, that was a fun series of emails), and it took completely re-doing each and every one of the blasted things before they would work.

Things that seem like they should take 10 seconds take me almost 30 minutes to do, like setting release conditions for tests.

Q: Does this get any easier? How does anyone teach with these things? Is there any benefit for the instructor from the LMS?

Lena Dunham. Oberlin. BA: Creative Writing. 2008.

There I am in my long sleeping-bag coat, shuffling to class twenty minutes late on a Tuesday morning. There I am in what used to be the video store, piling my arms high with VHSs. There I am in the diner, ordering not one but two egg sandwiches. There I am in the gym, riding an Exercycle from the early '80s and reading a book called Bosnian Rape. And there I am, drunk on a spring night, yanking my tampon out and hurling it into a bush outside the church. There I am falling in love by the bike rack. There I am slowly realizing my bike has gone missing from the same rack, stolen while I was sleeping. There I am calling my father from the steps of the art museum. There I am half listening to a professor when she tells me I need to start attending class more regularly. And I'm there, too, dragging a torn sofa into the black-box theater with my 'set designer.' If I had known how much I would miss these sensations I might have experienced them differently, recognized their shabby glamour, respected the ticking clock that defined this experience. I would have put aside my resentment, dropped my defenses. I might have a basic understanding of European history or economics. More abstractly, I might feel I had truly been somewhere, open and porous and hungry to learn. Because being a student was an enviable identity and one I can only reclaim by attending community college late in life for a bookmaking class or something.

Traffic Report.

These are the daily hits
from the past couple of weeks.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Allow me to break character. I feel sorry for these students.

Really, I do feel bad for the,.  If they leave college as clueless as they arrived, they have no chance.  Proffie Galore's comment reminded me of a recent conversation I had with a student.

She came to office hours with questions.  In the middle of explaining how to solve a problem, she says, "By the way, I have a question about lab."  she sat back from the table where we were working, making it clear that her mind had fixated on to this new topic.

OK, let's talk about lab.  I started to answer her question but I needed to check the syllabus.  While I opened my file cabinet, she became curious about our final exam (6 weeks from now!), then about something else.  She moved from topic to topic whenever I paused to catch my breathe.  Her body language suggested that she never fully understood what I said, just that her new thought was more important than her previous one.  We ended our conversation with her telling me about a science show she watched (partially, of course) on the Discovery Channel.  I told her that it sounded interesting.  That made her happy; she packed up and left.

We never finished solving the problem that she came to see me about.

Why can't Johnny understand math? A Big Thirsty from Dr. Amelia.

So Dr. Amelia teaches in an area that is not math heavy, but is math friendly. To do what we do, quantitative ability is pretty important, but often lacking.

As of late, she has noticed that her students, who usually did quite well in math classes in high school and even college seem to still be innumerate when they reach her. I ask the percentage change between 8 million and 10 million and they give an answer of 200% and don't bat an eye. "Don't you see that that makes no sense?" she asks them. "Math is hard," they answer. If they have a formula, they can plug and chug an answer, but seem incapable of thinking about what it means.

Q: How is it Johnny can DO math (sometimes), but can't understand it?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

so tired of faculty handwriting requested Web site updates - why do they do that? programming patty has typed her request to us...

So I’m a staff member who manages a university Web site, and I frequently get requests to update faculty pages, and I’m always happy to do so. Most people just send me e-mails that say, for example, “Add ‘basketweaving’ under where it says “Research Interests,” and remove “hamster husbandry.” Or, “I no longer teach Comp 101 so please remove it from the list of courses I teach.” Or something along those lines. A few even copy and paste their Web pages into a Word document, revise it, and send it to me. That’s fine too – the faculty pages are so succinct that it’s no problem to replace everything on the page with a fresh version, and often it’s easier to do that than to hunt down all the edits. My issue is with the 10% or so who want me to update their Web pages, so they print them out, handwrite the edits in a messy scrawl, scan it on our copier, which e-mails them a PDF, save the PDF to their computer, and then attach it to an e-mail and send me that. Of course I always ask, “do you have a typed version?” and the answer is always, “No, I do not.” (I would much prefer to just tell them to type it or else I won’t update the page, of course, but that would result in the usual “who are you to tell me what to do? I’ll just lodge a complaint with the dean about how useless you are,” and you have to pick your battles around here. )

Vic Wants to Vent. A Speedy Rant About Wind.

Thank God your page exists.

I'm in my second year of teaching. The first year was a blur. I have no idea if I did anything right or wrong. I can't remember what the students were like. I was in a fog the first two semesters just trying to keep my shit together.

But now, solidly in place halfway through this semester, I'm starting to recognize that I'm teaching children, 18-20 year old children who have no attention spans - look, a bug flew by - and who act like 5 year olds.

In the middle of a student's reading of a heartbreaking poem about suicide today, Dick in the back row actually farted. Not, a small whisper of flatulence, but a raise-the-cheek fart.

A kid two seats over said, "Hey, that's the Caf's burrito working, man!" And the whole class laughed, including the poor sap I'd tapped to read the poem.

I felt my face go red, and beads of sweat popped out on my forehead. I could only think of one thing to say, and I didn't say it gracefully, "Why can't you just BEHAVE?"

And it was quiet for a second and then some titters. It was close to the end of class. I grabbed my book and my jacket and headed for the door.

"Be here Friday," I said.

Just Imagine that Sophie Is A Duck.

Animal Therapy Reduces Anxiety, Loneliness Symptoms in College Students

from the Georgia State U News

Animal-assisted therapy can reduce symptoms of anxiety and loneliness among college students, according to researchers at Georgia State University, Idaho State University and Savannah College of Art and Design. Their findings are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Creativity in Mental Health.

The researchers provided animal-assisted therapy to 55 students in a group setting at a small arts college in the Southeast. They found a 60 percent decrease in self-reported anxiety and loneliness symptoms following animal-assisted therapy, in which a registered therapy dog was under the supervision of a licensed mental health practitioner.

Eighty-four percent of the participants reported their interaction with the therapy dog, Sophie, was the most significant part of the program


Forget the Burners. What About Bullies? From the USA Today.

Bullying not a thing of the past for college students

By: Kaitlyn Krasselt

Bullying comes in all forms but is usually thought of as a K-12 issue that ceases to exist once students head off to college.

This misconception is one that could be harming many college students, according to Brian Van Brunt, President of the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association and author of the book Ending Campus Violence: New Approaches to Prevention.

“I think it’s that perception (college) a blank slate,” Van Brunt says. “Once high school’s over it’ll be a whole new experience, but the problems don’t go away. These things don’t just disappear … I would argue they get worse because you’re adding stress … Why would that get easier not harder?”