Friday, April 27, 2012

You know what I wish?

That more people were better at assuming someone FORGOT something when they didn't do it, and not that they CHOSE not to do it SPECIFICALLY to harm the person in question.

I have BlackBoard websites for my classes. I put stuff up on them, mainly to help the good students who care (I have long debated NOT doing them, because it seems the people who don't want to come to class use the argument that "the slides are on the website" as evidence that they shouldn't have to come to class). I also put handouts up there because it's a damn sight easier to tell a student who skipped class, "Go to BlackBoard to get the handout" than it is to haul old copies to class on the off chance that someone who didn't get one is there.

But what bugs me about BlackBoard is how it feeds into the entitlement/taking-everything-personally mentality.

I forget stuff. I forget stuff ALL THE TIME. Or, I tell someone "I'll put it up on BlackBoard after class" and then when I get to my office, there's a line of people there needing other stuff.

And the stuff doesn't get up on BlackBoard immediately. And people call or e-mail me to remind me. And I don't mind the reminders - "Hey, did you put this week's material up yet?" or "I lost such-and-such handout, do you have it posted?"

What I do mind are the people - and I've had a few this semester - who take it PERSONALLY when I forget to post stuff. Like, I'm not posting it specifically to harm them or because I don't like them or something.

I just got one of those calls. I had genuinely forgot to post the material - didn't post it before class because I was making changes to it and I specifically told the person when they asked in class that that was why. Then I had about three other classes, including a lab, after that, all in succession, and so I didn't get it posted that afternoon. And then yesterday, I was busy with other stuff, had meetings....didn't get it posted.

So I get a phone call: "Wah, why didn't you post the stuff? Don't you LOVE us any more?" (okay, that was an exaggeration, but still). They act like I'm not posting stuff to spite them, when it's that I've either been pulled in fifteen different directions and updating the class webpage was the thing that lost out in the chain of priorities. Or that I just genuinely forgot.

I had one student this semester stop just short of accusing me of wanting her to fail, because she was "no longer receiving" the BlackBoard stuff. (Apparently they can set a setting so that it will e-mail them when I post new stuff, which I find ever-so-slightly creepy). The reason she didn't get an e-mail that week? I hadn't gotten around to posting the stuff.

It frustrates me because I do like BlackBoard for two reasons: one, the good students will print out the material and bring it to class and take notes on it and come in with questions and discussion prepared. And it also saves me from the "I lost the handout/I skipped class and didn't get the handout/I spilled coffee on my handout" stuff - I can just direct them to BlackBoard (if they even have to ask).

But I don't like how some students seem to assume that it's like a valet, and that it's feeding them exactly what they need. And if I'm not omnipotenent about getting everything up on the site YESTERDAY, it's because I hate them and want them to flunk out of school. And I also hate that some people feel "entitled" to skip....that they believe between my slides and the textbook they can learn the stuff, and then they get upset when they earn Ds on exams because stuff I talked about in class was NOT on the slides.

(This is why I'm very, very leery of eliminating all use of PowerPoint. I know a lot of educational experts HATE it and think it is anathema - and I kind of hate some aspects of it - but when your campus culture is such that the students expect AT LEAST data slides and keywords and main points, you go back to the old chalkboard at your peril. (I've also had students with learning disabilities complain about the chalkboard. And I have one student this semester - and this is HELLA unsettling, but he has disabilities, so I don't feel like I can tell  him no - who whips out his digital camera every time I write something on the board and photographs it. (I am VERY careful NOT to get in those photos!))

But, gah. When someone doesn't get something to me when I want it, I generally figure, "They're really busy, or maybe they forgot and I need to just neutrally remind me." I get so tired of the general (or so it seems) late-adolescent tendency to take everything that happens as a personal slight.

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