Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's Only the Fourth Week of the Semester

I gave the spiel on the first day: I don't accept excuses related to technology. Here's why: I leave ample time for students to complete the tasks I've assigned. Usually 5 days to a full week for the smaller assignments, and two to three weeks (or a month,for the final project) for the longer papers. Failure to complete the assignment due to "tech" glitches is not my problem. I even have a handout. Germane to this post are points 2(b) and 5:

2b.      You will be required to use the Drop Box to turn in some of the smaller assignments. The drop box will always have a “turn-in” deadline. If you miss the deadline, you cannot turn your work in late via email, nor will I accept it in person. 

a.      “My hard drive crashed.” Borrow a friend’s computer or go to the local library or come to campus, where the labs are open from 7:00 am - 10:00 pm.
b.      “My printer is out of ink.”
c.       “My thumb-drive won’t open on _____.”
d.      “My file won’t open.”
e.      “My battery died.”
f.        “My print allowance is used up.”
g.       “I don’t have a computer/internet at home.” If this is the case, you must make time to use any one of the school’s computer labs during normal campus hours (7am to 10pm) to complete work that must be done through the LMS.

The reason I do not accept these excuses is that YOU HAVE A CALENDAR with clear due dates for major papers, and I have purposefully spaced the assignments to give you plenty of time to complete them. The excuses related to technology are the result of work done at the last minute. This is your problem, not mine.

*In rare cases, I may make an exception; this requires you to meet with me during my office hours to plead your case.

This morning I opened my email to find a message from Susie Snowflake: 

"I couldn't load my lms to submit this so I'm sorry I'm sending it in an email and I apologize."

I want to scream. I want to hit something. But I don't. I write her the following (granted, tersely worded) email: 

Why couldn't this be posted?

It's not acceptable. You waited until 7 minutes to the deadline to try to get into LMS; this discussion board was open for a full week. And other students posted around the same time you had trouble. If there is a problem with you posting, you need to contact Central IT (through the SERVICE CENTER tab in LMS) and they will help you get to the bottom of the issue.

Ten minutes ago, this came in:

I understand that it doesn't make sense why mine couldn't load when others could, I should have explained why when I sent it. I wasn't near a computer when I remembered I needed to post my response on LMS so I had to use my phone. It let me get into LMS and see the assignment but my phone wouldn't allow me to open it to type out my response. Because of this I thought sending an e-mail with my response would at least show I knew it needed to be done. 

I want to scream. I want to hit something. But I won't. I'll just come here and post.

BTW, I gave a short "check yourself before you wreck yourself" reminder on Tuesday that this thing was due. Ten people out of 47 registered did not complete the assignment.

If you need me, I'll be at the bar across the street.


  1. Sheesh. They can't read, and their sense of entitlement is so far up their asses they think that failure to read something means it doesn't apply to them.

    Be prepared for the "mob around the front table" as you walk into class.

    Sometimes, I just want to taze them.

    1. Sometimes, I just want to taze them.

      In light of recent posts I read this, "Sometimes, I just want to haze them."


    2. Sometimes I want to vaporize them, with a psychoactive enema, ROUGHLY!!

  2. When I walk into class on the day a project is due, they are all scurrying around 3 minutes before the start of class, in hopes of finishing what they haven't finished. If it's not completed at this point in time, no amount of scurrying around will help them.

    Today, we spent class time working on a project. When I was talking, I had to ask the class to stop talking, stop working on their computers, and put their cell phones away. These are seniors. It's in tea-partying syllabus. How does one get through?

    1. When I walk into class the day a paper is due, they aren't there. They're at the library, where the printer has just failed due to the fact that they all tried to print their papers at once.

    2. This is one good thing about LMSs and other electronic methods of submitting (and no, I don't take papers by email, either. My inbox is already enough of a disaster). One can make the paper due sometime other than right before class, and thus (somewhat) decrease the chances of losing a class session every time there's a major deadline. They probably won't have read, but they might show up.

  3. Just reading your post makes me want to scream. NO matter how much you preface anything with instructions or get them to take responsibility, they won't. They simply won't. It's alway someone else's fault or something else's fault or your fault. Never their fault. Vaporization is too kind.

  4. I give my students 2 weeks to complete assignments. My assignments require a fair bit of computer output. I make sure this is covered in the computer lab during the FIRST week of the assignment. They then hand the assignment in before class. Out of a class of 150 students, I always get one or two who say the printer wouldn't work. The conversation usually goes a little like this:

    STUDENT: The printer wouldn't work.
    ME: What, do you mean two weeks ago?
    STUDENT: No, just now, in the computer lab.
    ME: And?
    STUDENT: Am I going to lose marks?
    ME: Yes.
    STUDENT: But that's not fair. Can't I hand it in to you later tonight?
    ME: You mean when I'm at home relaxing and spending time with my family?
    STUDENT: Well, then tomorrow.
    ME: No.
    STUDENT: But I worked really hard on it.
    ME: Not hard enough, obviously. You've had two weeks to complete this assignment, you left it until the last minute, things didn't work out for you, and now you want to inconvenience me and have me give you preferential treatment over other students by extending your deadline?
    ME: Exactly. Now have a seat, class is about to begin.

  5. In my syllabus, it says in BOLD that I will not accept emailed assignments, and under no circumstances will I open their word attachments. Still had 2 people in each class email me a monkey-fighting word attachment. One guy, when I asked "why didn't you use the submission feature in the courseware?" replied "my laptop doesn't have a working usb slot". LOLWUT?

    1. iPad? There's always that Cloud thingy. Lame-o.

    2. Well, the thing is, the courseware is web-based submission. So if he can email me an attachment, he can submit it to the courseware. Neither of these require any kind of usb.

  6. As a grad student, I once had to be on campus to teach at 9 am. I had a short paper due at 5:30 pm, so I wrote all but the last page of the paper the night before, knowing I could use the campus computers to finish it up (with time to spare) in the middle of the day.

    By noon, I was in the lab, typing away. I finished by 1 pm and decided to actually get lunch. The lab I was in still used the crappy dot matrix printers, but I knew I could print my paper in the good lab at 4:30 pm. So, I decided to actually get a decent meal in for the day!

    At about 4:30 pm, I went to the good lab to re-write something I had thought of to add and discovered that the file had become corrupted. It simply would not open. I spent almost all of the next hour with one of the lab techs trying everything possible to open the destroyed file. A little before 5:30 pm, I informed the professor of the problem, and he was about as sympathetic as many of you seem to be; in fact, he was a total ass about it. I later discovered (by bitching to other grad students) that the labs often corrupted files and this was a rather common occurrence; no one ever really talked about it though, so nothing ever got done to investigate why this happened so regularly.

    This is why, of all the excuses a student could possibly make, I was most sympathetic to tech issues related to campus computers. Send it to the wrong place? No sympathy. Send it in the wrong format? No sympathy. Couldn't log in? No sympathy. But claim the file won't open or the CMS went awry or that a lab printer got messed up -- I'd make a straightforward accommodation any time.

    Simply put: some campus computers are royally fucked up. Remember Die, IT, Die? Those are the people usually running the labs, yo.

    Of course, there have been all sorts of new advances that would have helped me avoid this problem nowadays. Hell, back then I was still using a 3.5" floppy!

    1. I'm sorry, but you waited until the last possible day. Corrupted floppy or not, your story is still one of snowflakery.

      I was not perfect either--I spent many an overnight in our VAX lab typing a paper I should have done far earlier. But I had the grace not to try to excuse myself of culpability if, say, the power went out and I lost an hour's worth of work because I hadn't been saving (which I knew perfectly well how to do and why to do it every 5 minutes). If the paper was late, I took my lumps because IT WAS MY FAULT THAT I WAITED.

      That's the difference, here.

      BTW, I also told my students that if they discover a problem early enough to get a service ticket into IT, and cc me on it, I will consider an extension. But 5 minutes before the thing is due? No. They were warned multiple times and advised clearly both verbally and in writing what to do.

    2. Wow.

      Now I don't feel bad for thinking your policy (and attendant "misery") betrays you as a control-freak.

    3. Wow.

      Now I don't feel bad for thinking your policy (and attendant "misery") betrays you as a control-freak.

    4. Really? Having a stated policy--designed to cut back on the deluge of snowflakery this profession is heir to--and sticking to it, makes me a control freak? Good to know.

      Well, your response qualifies you as a tool. So everybody wins in the name-calling contest! Yay!

    5. Our IT department provides documentation for students when something like this happens. I'm happy to accept documentation for an ill computer, just as I accommodate an ill student.

      I'm not happy to accept a later paper because a student's personal printer ran out of ink or because the student forgot to put money on their print card, and can't I just accept it over email anyway? (Which implies that I should have to pay to print their essay.)

  7. We have a piece of software the students have to use for their Hamster Stats Class. This software has issues that rarely get resolved with new versions of the software. As a result we always tell students to have a back up copy of their GIANT project and to save early and save often. The reality is most students will never have an issue, but every semester some poor fool gets attacked by the software gremlin and loses the project. My first question when the student comes to me all ashen faced and slack jawed is "You backed up the file, right?" The answer is always "No." Now I can (and usually do) give people an extension on the project, but they have to do the whole thing from scratch (some of them see to really believe that I will not make them do the project. Ha Ha. now get to work!)

    1. I've encountered signs of that expectation, too. I guess it's the logical extension of the "but I tried!" sentiment in the email BurntChrome quoted. That seems to be a pretty common refrain.

  8. I've now got a paragraph on my syllabus listing a reliable backup system as one of the "required materials" for the class. I make it clear that I expect them to use something cloud-based (dropbox, mozy, carbonite, spideroak, email attachments, whatever), or at least something separate from (and stored separately from) their computer. As I say on the syllabus, I'm actually more sympathetic if they lose a few hours' worth of work (and agree to make it up in a similar amount of time) than if they lose weeks or months of work. Of course, there's still the question of how long assignments *should* take, and when they should start them. As something of a deadline-pusher myself, I'm not really in a position to throw stones (and as someone with oodles of papers to grade, I don't really care if a few come in late). But I am moving more toward grace periods followed by grade deductions rather than complete laissez-faire, since that results in chaos. And I'm very strict about group work; if their lateness affects another student's ability to do hir work, that's a serious problem.

    1. I often tell the students just to email themselves a copy of the project- you would be surprised (actually none of us is surprised) by the number of snowflakes who ask me how to do that. Face-palm.

  9. I have similar policies, with a trial run of a deadline for information about group projects (no marks attached). Only a smidgen over a third of the class made the trial deadline, so I'm not looking forward to this week's online submissions of their first assignment.


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