May 13, 2008
Here it comes
Summer semester is about to begin. I teach a lot of online courses, and students seem confused with the concept that online courses begin the same day regular courses do. In a live class, you get your books from the bookstore before class begins, and get the syllabus the first day of class. In an online course- believe it or not- you get your books from the bookstore before class begins, and get the syllabus the first day of class! Isn’t that amazing?
There are some red flags I get the first week or two of a semester that tend to signal an upcoming EPIC FAIL at the end. One is a student who doesn’t know to go to the bookstore and get their books. I’m not talking about students who cannot do this for various financial reasons- I’m talking about the ones who email asking about books because they don’t know to go to the bookstore. It’s a bad sign.
Another flag are kids who try to add in after the add deadline. Its always a sign of trouble. Having the backing of the dean makes no difference. Without exception, students who “need” or want to add after the add deadline are T-R-O-U-B-L-E. It’s a bad sign.
Students who email me that they can’t do the first week (“I’ll be out of town”, “I won’t have internet access”, “I’m on vacation”, etc.) are equally Trouble. The attitude this betrays is one that all professors dread: something else is more important than your education. Other variations on the theme are “I’m going to have a medical procedure and will need to miss week x” and “I’m getting married an will be going on honeymoon for week x”. Sorry, guys, but these invariable mean EPIC FAIL is on its way. I’m happy to work with students to make up work and complete assignments. Nothing I do seems to make any difference. I can lead the student to the assignment, but I can’t make them turn it in.* It’s a bad sign, especially in summer session.
This is also the season of “do we really have to complete a assignment every week/post online twice a week/complete two exams?” The idea of having to complete the minimum requirements to get a passing grade seems a foreign concept to some students (I actually had one email me complaining they failed when they only completed half the work. I gave the person a score of 50. The complaint? “I thought I’d get credit for the work I did do!” You did, sweetie. You got a 50. That’s an F.) It’s a bad sign.
I hate it when students fail. It’s bad on my nerves. It’s never good. But some of them leave me no choice. I can’t grade what isn’t turned in. So a word to the wise: don’t make your professors grumpy. Do your work. On time.
*One exception to this theme is “I’m nine months pregnant and expect the baby during week x.” Only about half of the folks who need accommodation for pregnancy are using it as an excuse. The other half make up the work with no problems.