Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Random bullets of gray November

  • Here's a question: if the monograph is in trouble, dying, hard to publish, etc., then why does seemingly every presenter at a conference have a new book either just out or just coming out (or, in a bid to make the audience truly envious, both)?
  • I think we ought to have an award patch for our blog sidebars that says something like "I survived my meeting with the Center for Teaching Awesomeness/Course Management System Gurus." These are often a requirement for getting access to modify the course no matter how much you've done in online in the past, so I kept my words to a minimum and my temper under wraps. On the 30th or so time I was told emphatically not to do something that usually works well because it would mess up their system of teaching for future people teaching the course, I finally said, "I don't really care about who teaches the course after me. Can't you just archive the course as it is now and put that one back in for the next person?" Archiving a course goes back to about 1999 in Blackboard if not earlier, so I think they could manage it. They said they'd look into it.*
  • Why is it that budgets for Centers for Teaching Awesomeness never get cut, but budgets for paying fine teachers are being cut all over the place?
  • I also plan to start a movement for the Abolition of Mayonnaise on Fast Food Sandwiches as a Default Option. Because of commuting and what's available, I have to eat at one of these places on some days and always order "no mayonnaise," something that gets ignored about half the time. When did mayonnaise become de rigueur on burgers,* anyway, and does anyone really need it who couldn't ask for it? (I told you these were random bullets.)
*Edited to add: An online course in which I am not permitted to add ANY external links seems to miss the point of online education, don't you think?

(** at least those with lettuce and tomatoes, which seem to trigger a mayonnaise auto-response.)


Bardiac said...

Bullet three for the win!

Also, why do we continue to fund centers for the awareness of alcohol (as if our students weren't already aware of alcohol) even though they don't report even the tiniest success in getting students to engage in less destructive alcohol use?

Leslie M-B said...

Let me assure you that budgets for Centers of Teaching Awesomeness do indeed get cut--and dramatically so, as do related units. When I worked for one were told we had to move into a cube farm w/some other units. That sucked, but we had no idea how empty that cube farm would become in the year between when it was drawn up and when we moved in. By the time I left, there were 3 people working in 17 spaces that had initially all been assigned to people.

And where I was, it's very, very hard to refill positions when people leave because the budgets are so crappy--even when faculty praise the teaching center (which in this case was not connected with academic technologies--which may explain why people appreciated our help). For example, I announced my departure last February; they're interviewing people for my old position this week, five months after I left.

Plus, we were furloughed, we lost all money for programs other than what remained of our salaries, and we were placed under increasingly ridiculous administrative burdens, particularly around technology security.

Sorry for the rant, but I get really worked up when people lump all teaching centers in the same boat. Many of them are doing meaningful work, and the people who work there are hurting.

undine said...

Sorry, Leslie M-B; I was hasty in what I said, and I am sorry to have put all of them in the same category. I'm also sorry that your unit has been cut so drastically. If it's any consolation, when faculty lines are cut, those are never replaced, either, any more.

The CTA thing hit a nerve with me because I was going on my experience, which is that sometimes they have excellent suggestions and that sometimes they are interested only in having you do something their way, even if you have a sound pedagogical reason for doing it the way you had planned. I've also been lectured at about things that I've known for the decades I've been teaching and condescended to as if elementary principles were beyond my grasp, so my experience has made me a little touchy about them.

Leslie M-B said...

Argh, how frustrating. I think the best teaching centers are staffed by people who have worked in the faculty ranks (even as long-serving adjuncts, as I had up until that point), those who can offer direct experience rather than theory and "shoulds." That was the case in the teaching center where I worked.

Don't get me started on academic technology offices, however. . . :)

Anonymous said...

An online course in which I am not permitted to add ANY external links seems to miss the point of online education, don't you think?


undine said...

Leslie M-B, I think those offices are combined at Northern Clime, which may explain something.

tenthmedieval, THANK YOU for that affirmation and that link. You'd think this would be seen as an enhancement (and as you point out, not a tricky one to do) instead of as a threat.

undine said...

Bardiac, I sometimes think that the core mission of a university and the teaching of subjects like English, etc., aren't seen as sexy any more but that these administrative things are shiny objects and should be funded.