March 2, 2009

How to make your professor grumpy, part 574

Posted in clues to the clueless, student stories, teaching revelations tagged , , , , at 1:55 am by profart

So I get an email from a desperate student who has waited until Sunday night to do their homework. At the beginning of the semester, I warned folks not to wait until the last minute with this particular assignment, as there are some issues with how BlackBoard handles putting images in quiz questions that students may have to resolve to complete the assignment. Just one more reason I’ll be ever so happy to redesign this class and find alternate platforms for delivering quizzes. 

Fortunately this year, this is the first student I’ve had who can’t seem to see the images and bugged me about it. Had they loaded it up earlier in the week, they would have had the tech support folks on campus to help them do the magic settings fix that works for everyone else, but which I, not being a computer person, have no idea how to do (and have never needed to do; everything loads fine here). Basically, you have to set your security settings so that your computer will allow a website to load an image it is “hotlinking” to (ie, I have used an img src tag). However that is done on your computer. 

But no, they have waited until Sunday evening, the day the assignment is due. They apparently- according to them- they have now called every computer person they know, and to no avail. And oh, they had a sick person in and out of the hospital, that is why they haven’t had time to do their work until now. (Providing excuse after two emails and late Sunday night=extremely suspicious…)

This is the magic opening of the last email:

Okay well I have done all that I can do.  I have tried all resources.  I have googled help for the error.  Unless you give me permission to do something else I will just have to submit the assessment without being able to see the pictures and take a bad grade. 

So I email back that I will try a few things from this end. After all, I have a new version of BlackBoard to play with, most of the students have already turned the thing in, let’s see what I can come up with. I try some alternative methods for posting images, and email the student asking if they can now see any images. 

No response. That’s odd.

But whatever, I pull up the site on another computer, and see what is working and what is not, and note that the alternative methods are definitely not loading now on my other computers here, so I opt for a new fun thing I can do, which is to add links to quiz answers, so I add that in and email them again telling them what I did and to let me know if it works for them. 

No response. We’ve gone from desperate emailing student asking for options to dead silence. Really, really weird. 

On a wild hare, I open up the grade book. Sure enough, Desperate Student has turned in the assignment. In fact, they apparently turned in the assignment before they emailed me that last email asking for alternatives. 

Folks, I cannot give you alternatives unless you wait for me to give you those alternatives. I cannot wave a magic wand and instantly solve a problem; I need a few minutes to look into what can be done for you. 

There is nothing ruder than sending a professor email asking to “do something else” about an assignment, then turn in the assignment without discussing “something else”- and disappearing. Rude, rude, rude. How would you like your boss or colleague or co-worker to do it to you? Leave you looking for alternatives, when they know they intend to just barrel forward- or know they already have? 

I could have spent those 45 minutes I was trying to solve this problem for this student doing other things- like grading exams.


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