July 29, 2008
The semester is done. Now begins that fragile few weeks after the grades are turned in, when people discover their grade, and are unhappy. The I Wanted An A student. The I Get A’s In All My Other Classes student. The I Needed a C To Graduate student, and their cousin, I Needed A C To Transfer. Then there is the most amazing of them: The Magic Reappearing student.
Magic Reappearing Student is one of those students who simply disappeared during the last 3 weeks of a semester, and trying to contact them was completely fruitless. They didn’t turn in the last three weeks’ of work, including the final exam. Magic Reappearing Student has gotten their grade report, and of course that big, fat F is sitting there on their transcript. Funny that.
Three weeks after the close of the semester, Magic Reappearing Student emails me. Do they have a medical explanation for their disappearance? Are they begging to please make up the work they missed due to some family emergency?
No. They want to know why I failed them. After all, they were passing the class before they disappeared. Can’t I just grade them based on the work they did?
Hint: if you sign up for a course, even an online course, you must actually complete the course if you want to pass the course.
For some reason, every semester, I have 2-4 students who simply disappear in the last three weeks of a class. They stop submitting work. They stop participating in discussions. They don’t take the final exam.
Trying to contact these students is of no avail. They do not return email. Phone messages for them go unreturned. My school doesn’t require academic advisors, so I can’t even go track them down that way (though when I am working at schools with advisors, that doesn’t usually result in contact, either). I leave messages desperate for contact, and get none.
So I am forced to fail them. If you don’t complete a class, you fail it. It is just that simple. If I never hear from you again, nor any of your friend or relations, I can only assume you simply fell off the face of the earth and didn’t bother to do your work or contact anyone about it. College policy: Fail.
If you are going to be so brash, lazy, and stupid as to cut and paste parts of your assignment from Wikipedia, please at least be so kind as to remove the links in the text. Plagiarism is not cool. Being stupid about plagiarizing is just sad.
Oh, and it means you fail the course. Epic fail the course.
July 23, 2008
So i turn around once, and its the end of summer semester. Ten-week classes just fly. I have a longer-than-usual break after this week, because the school is shifting its academic calendar. Instead of having a fall break and starting mid-August, we’re stating late August and just have Thanksgiving. I’m sure there’s a reason for it. Makes no nevermind to me, really, as being online, fall break is non-existent anyway. The only nevermind it makes is that the final exam is later, and I really wanted some extra time to get ready for Christmas.
I am sure we will be starting Epic Fail Week, Miss Kitty Style, any minute now. I’ll keep you posted. Or I’ll make stuff up based on past semester. Either way, it should make for fine reading entertainment.
July 7, 2008
Wild Hare Student has posted again. It’s Egypt week, so we should be in for a treat. I take a deep breath, hold it for a second, then click.
The post loads.
My jaw drops.
Before me is one of my worst fears. I have, in my class, a true wacko. Wild Hare Student believes in aliens.
Not only that, WHS insists that the pyramids were built by aliens, and that can be proved by the library of information hidden in tunnels under the pyramids. And we know about these tunnels because of the information we about… yes. Yes, folks. Atlantis.
This has got to be a joke. WHS is joking, right? Tell me WHS is joking.
No. If you know WHS, if you have been reading their posts, and getting their emails (if they would use the effort they put forth in fighting with me through email into actually doing their work, they might even learn something…), you know this is no joke. WHS believes that the pyramids of Egypt are secret libraries built by the aliens who inhabited Atlantis.
Now, folks, just let me say there are no secret tunnels under the pyramids. The few tunnels that exist are not secret, and they were made by tomb robbers. Unsuccessful tomb robber, I might add- not only was the stuff long gone by the time they got there, the stuff was never underneath to begin with. There are no secret libraries under either the pyramids or the Sphinx.
I won’t even start in on Atlantis. You can have fun with the latest on that in the comments if you wish.
What do you do with a student you know is crazier than a loon? How do you teach a person who is nuttier than a fruitcake? How do you handle a person you know is playing hockey with a warped puck?
I go ahead and post, lest the insanity leak out into the rest of the class body and taint an entire generation of promising young nurses, computer scientists, and (allow me a moment to dream) art historians. I try to be polite, professional, but very clear. No tunnels. No libraries. No aliens.
Need I wonder who wrote on my evals, “Needs to be open minded about other ideas, tends to be highly critical and rude to students”?
July 6, 2008
Every once in a while, I get a Wild Hare Student. WHS is the kind of student who posts almost at random, with thoughts that have no apparent relevance to the topics at hand, or who seem to be trying to get into a discussion without having done any of the work, and thus relying on what they think they know about the topic.
Just a thought: if I see your name on a discussion board post or your hand in the air, and get this feeling of impending dread, that is a bad thing.
Now, I have nothing against students adding what they know about a subject to the class. I don’t even mind the “I heard this about this topic, and wanted to know more?” sorts of students. But students who jump in without thinking, and post wild things as facts, and get upset if you correct the misinformation, are Wild Hare Students. And they are Pains in My Ass.
In a semester in the recent or near-recent past, or perhaps it was a long time ago, I’m not telling, I had a classic WHS. Yes, the sort of student who was convinced they knew everything about art history already- why were they taking an intro to art class? Beats my two pair. What was even nuttier was that they had no grasp of actual art, or history, or anything of the sort. It was as if their entire art education was based on bad Discovery Channel docu-dramas and a light reading of The DaVinci Code (may it drop off the face of planet Earth and never be heard from again!!!). It was the kind of misinformation that I couldn’t just “let go”. So to top it off, they got upset that I was “picking on them” for constantly responding to correct the misinformation, since if you just “let it go” other students seem to think I am saying it is correct information, or somehow condoning bad information, and then get upset when they get something wong on the test using that bad information- even if it goes directly against the textbook or something I have discussed elsewhere on the forum or in class.
Every time I saw WIld Hare Student on a post “author” line, I cringed. What insanity would this student post today?
WHS did not get the concept that early Christianity and modern Christianity differ, sometimes quite widely. They kept complaining that early Christian art pieces were “wrong” and “didn’t understand the Bible” and other such… interesting commentaries. Explaining who Monophysites were and what they believed didn’t seem to phase WHS. The were just wrong, and that was it. Besides, they claimed to know all about Monnophisits.
Sometimes, you can just sit back and let the other students see what is in plain and black and white. Responding to WHS sometimes is just a waste of good electrons.