Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Technillogical. From The T-Shirt Prof.

Greetings from the North Pole, where the increasing darkness is more a reflection of our collective misery than the Earth revolving around the sun and pointing us away from her warmth.

I'm on overload this semester, a not terribly unusual situation for me as I appear to either be 1) qualified to teach most of our undergraduate curriculum, or 2) the only sucker in the department who can't say "no." I sent a rather passive note to the Ass. Dean (it makes it so much more fun to abbreviate Associate) regarding my (lack of) pay for the overload, to which s/he responded with a terse, "Academic Affairs is holding it until the Spring."


Less than a week later I get a note from the Chair, asking me to take on emergency overload to cover a colleague's course while s/he's on immediate leave for "at least two weeks." It's a course I've never taught before, and it's our second largest auditorium course at that.

Quick pro tip: I trained in a highly specialized field within my discipline, and in order to make myself more attractive to potential jobs, I took on gaining experience teaching large lecture courses with significant online elements. It worked, and now I'm "Dr. Gen Ed." Whoops.

Back to the story - I said "yes" (see above) before I really thought this through. I'm already on overload, and this is a large enough course to count as a double course. I went from one course overload to the equivalent of THREE course overload! Hey, at least there is money to pay me right away for this emergency overload! Although my first overload pay will still be held...

Oh, I wish the story ended there, but there is a wrinkle...yes indeed, this course has a fairly significant online presence. No worries, I'm a pro at this. I got this. The Chair did what s/he was supposed to do in this situation - called the Tech Help Desk. The student who answered dutifully filled out the "ticket" (gotta have the paperwork to track all of this data!) and the request to be added as an instructor to the supplemental material went on it's way to the proper folks.

Now it is important to note that any attempt to contact said support staff directly would result in an immediate response to call the Tech Help Desk to get a ticket started.

Three days later, after I've already met with the class (and fielded approximately 25,000 requests for grade updates...well, closer to 5, but it felt like a lot), I finally get a response from the staff, who essentially refused the request, citing intellectual property rights. I nearly spat wine from my nose (hey, us cultural elitists have to get SOME time to enjoy the finer things, right?). This is the same area that laughed when I suggested that audio recording my lectures and storing them on the University's server could be a violation of my own intellectual property rights.

Ah, karma.

The original instructor had expressly stated that I be given access - s/he is unavailable via email and has a strong desire to keep information about the leave as private as possible. But the Tech Help Desk - in an effort to protect her property rights - was asking me to violate privacy rights.

And the person doing this is a muckity-muck in our faculty union. Yeah, I'm pretty sure s/he was getting all uniony on me, rather than helping out a faculty member in a temporary crisis.

Any one else out there in the cyber-tubes have to deal with moronic "help desks"?


  1. Oh, the annoyance of IT people! This post proves you're just one of us: we complain about the "help desk" people and "blackhole board" almost as much as we complain about the snowflakes.

    My "helpdesk" has learned to respond to any question I have with: "We do not have sufficient information or data available to deal with this problem," even when additional information isn't warranted.

    1. You can have fun with this. Try asking them, "Why are you so incompetent?" or "Why are you such an asshole?" I know, it's a low form of humor, like writing obscenities in Mad Libs or teasing the dog. ("Hey I got food for ya, no I don't!")

  2. Only my second contribution and I have amassed two different avatars and even a "label". What's next? A hashtag?

    Here's a quick funny from today...a student expressed her desire to become a professor someday (ah, so innocent!), but said that she might have to rethink it after hearing a conversation between myself and a colleague because we were way too philosophical and that she doesn't think like that.

    I assured her that it would only take a year of grad school to get so deep that you wouldn't recognize yourself, but then I thought back to the theology PhD students I met last week and realized that some people are just born that nerdy.

  3. I once set up something on D2L that seemed innocuous enough but crashed the whole database for my course and it had to be fixed by technicians in the state capital. They explained to me what I had done and that it was a "known issue", meaning that they do not ever intend to fix it. Well, I know how to not screw it up again, but new people won't.

  4. To the nameless OP (whom I will call "Dr. T-Shirt"): first and formost, NEVER get yourself in the position of being "Dr. Gen Ed." - they will make you the department mule until you quit, die, or retire. As for the IT people, a small cubic-inch charge of C-4 should ruin their computers for years, while three pounds can obliterate half of their house!

    Plastique = your explosive friend.

    1. The post is from the T-Shirt Prof.

    2. So you are saying that T-Shirt Prof hijacked Strelly's moniker? T-Shirt Prof----that shit aint right!

  5. I have to admit that my husband is an IT professional who continually facepalms at the way IT treats us at my college. He could never get away with treating "users" like that. Not that it would not sometimes seem warranted from his point of view!