October 12, 2008
I have some fond, if strange, memories of past midterm seasons. Midterm is a strange and wonderful time. Every year you have at least one student show up for a midterm whom you have ever seen before, or who has never logged in before. If they have been dropped from your rolls for excessive absence/no show, they act all surprised and start asking what they need to do to be re-enrolled. If they haven’t been dropped, they invariably fail the exam. And I don’t mean a little fail. We’re talking EPIC FAIL. After all, they have attended no classes, done no reading, you don’t even know who they are.
Another bad sign for online classes are the students who don’t recognize your name on posts yet. Every year I get at least one student who, especially around midterm (particularly on the midterm review forum) starts arguing me about something (often something important, like the definition of humanism or the idea of selflessness), and finally devolves into something more or less like, “Who do you think you are, anyway?” How does one professionally reply, “I’m your professor”?
Yet another lovely memory are the “please report everything” requests. I put into my orientation presentations, and now into my syllabi, that printing out the weekly assignments- BEFORE you complete them, so you have all the answer choices- is a good idea. Apparently some folks still don’t understand that when your professor says something is a “good idea”, it translates as “DO THIS.” Instead, they ask that all the assignments be reposted. It wouldn’t really help, anyway, as once they complete the quiz, the program will only present them with their answers, the correct answers, and the pre-set feedback comments. But I always get a flood of requests. I did report them a couple of times- and every time, people who hadn’t completed them when they should have then tried to turn them in, and complained when I didn’t count the grade. Loudly. To the dean. Never again.
Ah, yes, midterm season. Here comes another one. The signs have already begun.