January 25, 2009

Clues for the Clueless #14

Posted in clues to the clueless, student mistakes, student stories tagged , , , , , at 2:23 am by profart

Hint: Two weeks into the semester, you should have already purchased your textbook. If you are having trouble affording the book, you need to go to the library and either find or request a copy. 

When I was in college, it was a known thing that you went to the bookstore and squared away your books before the semester started. If you were adding a class late, the first thing you did was march over to the bookstore to get the books. It was your responsibility to have your books, period. My friends who had troubles would march over to the library, and either check out what copies were available, or put in for inter-library loan. Again, we knew it was our responsibility to have our books. Period. 

After all, that is what libraries are for- loaning and reading books. If you can’t get a copy of your textbook, head over to the library and get your reading done. Why is this so difficult? I’m not even sure how to answer these emails anymore, that give excuses… two weeks into the semester… about how people don’t have their books yet!

ADDENDUM: Threatening to go to the dean when I suggest that you should have already gone to the library because you “didn’t think of that” is only going to make your professor grumpy. Oh, and the professor may even forward your email to the dean for their advice on what to do with you, and trust me, these emails also make deans grumpy. I don’t care how long you have been in or out of school, if you are taking a course, you need to do the work, and that means having the textbook when the class starts.


January 23, 2009


Posted in Uncategorized at 8:03 pm by profart

I am in the midst of a major redesign of my online courses. The fact is, they’re old. Technology moves on. What formats folks are familiar with moves on. The more I can keep the classes on top of current formats, the fewer “what am I supposed to do?” emails I will get. The fewer of those emails I get, the less grumpy I will be. Less grumpy is always better. 

The redesign is going to be totally, completely awesome. The students are going to get to do totally awesome things, so that everything will be a lot more fun and a lot less work for me. 


That is totally awesome.

January 22, 2009

It may be a long semester.

Posted in FERPA, student stories tagged , , , , at 5:10 am by profart

I have gotten several of these. I’ve made some changes and condensing for FERPA, but the grammar and punctuation have been preserved: 

hey prof. art, my names random student and i’m a student taking your online course. i had some minor medical procedure on {one week before class started}, unfortunetly i  suffered from complications. i’ve been on bedrest since {the day after classes started}, and therefore haven’t been able to be on a computer to complete any assignments. i’m getting my book tomorrow, so i was wondering if i could finish all my work by the end of this week, including weeks one and two. it would be greatly appreciated and thank you so much for understanding.
random student.
Note that we are now halfway through Week Two. This is going to be a long semester. 

January 20, 2009

Thou Shalt Teach

Posted in miscellaneous other matters, teaching revelations, Uncategorized tagged , , at 12:00 am by profart

Tuesday is the inauguration. They only happen every four years, and this one seems to be a particularly big deal. I will be watching it Tuesday night, off my DVR. Tuesday at 11 am, I teach. 

You see, students pay to take college classes. Well, someone pays for them to. So they have the right to have those classes taught. In order to allow my class to watch the inauguration, I had to have permission from every single one of them to basically cancel class so we could go watch it. I was planning to discuss it Thursday- the wonderful visual vocabulary of presidential pageantry! What an opportunity! But the message has been made crystal clear: Normal Class Shall Be Taught, Unless All Students Agree Otherwise. 

Of course, I have a student who does not want anything to do with the inauguration. Actually, three. So DVR it is. But I’m a little miffed that I don’t have control over my own class. It’s a wasted teaching moment.

January 12, 2009

… In Which I Note That RateMyProfessors is Full of…

Posted in student stories, teaching revelations tagged , , , at 1:29 pm by profart

Yes, I hate RateMyProfessors.com. I have several colleagues who worry so much about this pitiful excuse for an eval site that they spend time submitting comments from various campus labs to make their rating better. They bother because there really are students who use this sorry excuse for a “resource” to pick classes, and for many fields, it is all about butts in seats. One pitiful, vengeful idiot who couldn’t be bothered to show up for class can wreck your rating. Students who like you tend not to bother with the site. 

Really, at issue is the lack of ability to respond to the ratings and comments. I peeked at mine a couple for years back, and noted that someone thought I practiced favoritism and was vague about assignments. Well, what can I say? If you are doing the work and turning in excellent quality, of course you have earned a better grade, and I am happy to record that earned grade. If you ask intelligent questions, your participation grade goes up. If you sit silent in the back AND make no attempt to participate online (some kids are shy in class, or shy online. Being both means you miss an important facet of learning) then your participation grade isn’t so good- because you didn’t participate. I don’t give out random grades. Vague about assignments? When I was in school (not long ago!), the professor walked in the first day, announced there was a 10- or 20- page paper due at the end of the class, and that was it. It was understood that the paper needed to be related to the course. Coming up with topics, resources, etc. was the responsibility of the student. I have had to provide definitions for “page”, “relevant”, and even “paper” and “notation” in my syllabus. Otherwise, I might get an minimalist interpretive dance at the end- and my apologies for insulting minimalist interpretive dance. 

Want to know something about a professor before you take a class? Why not call and make an appointment?

January 10, 2009

An Exciting New Semester Looms

Posted in Semester endcap tagged at 3:54 am by profart

Ah, the beginning of a fresh new semester. The lectures are updated, the powerpoints fresh, the essay questions refined, and we’re ready to go. This semester, I return to the classroom after hiatus (filled with online teaching). I haven’t been on one of the campuses since last May; and I haven’t taught live at the other campus in five years. I have a lovely selection of intro western and intro eastern courses to teach, so it should be fun. And hey, i get to talk about Astasahashrika Prajnaparamita and Mahamahishashuramardini this semester. How bad could it be? Seriously.