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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Scattershot

The day started with the training session on Blackboard. I mostly noodled around on my own, as there was a lot of review for people who had taken part 1 of the training last week and a few who didn't get the notice that the room had changed and thus showed up late. There was also a long discussion about online learning more generally, how it's done at other campuses, problems with online pedagogy and attempts at solutions--most of which I tuned out, as it seemed to be largely people responding to a woman who had not been there yesterday, who had not gotten the notice about the room change, and who felt very free to highjack the conversation based on her experiences teaching elsewhere. I think she may be a new adjunct, based on some of the things she said, but she obviously felt she knows best about just about everything. I tend to be that way myself on occasion, though I don't think I'm ever quite so aggressive about dominating the direction of a conversation, never mind the direction of a learning session. I'd have been more annoyed if I had been waiting to learn the next thing, but as I was cheerfully engaged in teaching myself--"what happens if I click on this? Oh, cool! OK..."--I didn't mind.

The best part about the entire session, as far as I'm concerned, is that the instructor, god love him, kept saying, "You can forget all this, because the first bunch of times you use Blackboard for a course, we will help you do it all: we'll either do it for you, or we'll talk you through it." I like to do things myself, but it is nice to know that at a certain point I can just say, "OK, you guys take the wheel." It's also nice to know that at any point in the process, I can contact Adam, the instructor, and say, "I'm sorry; I don't remember how to..." and know that he'll be happy to walk me through it.

The only down side to all this is that there is more careful conceptualizing that I have to do if I'm actually going to run my 101s as "web enhanced"--which is ideally what I'd like to do. There are some things I still want them to do on paper (actually, most things I still want them to do on paper), but if I am going to use some of the tools on Blackboard, I need to decide whether they're mandatory (and if so what the grading criteria are) or if they're simply there as a kind of back-up. That includes submission to Turnitin.com: I can set up the links for each assignment right there on Blackboard--cool--but I don't want students to therefore assume they can submit all their papers electronically.

And--thinking about 15 steps ahead, as I tend to do--I'm already thinking, "What do I need to do in order to create fully online versions of the lit electives I like to teach that don't already exist on line? And what credentials do I need in order to teach them?" If I could teach Native American Lit and/or Nature in Lit online, that would be great, as I bet they'd have a better chance of running.

In any event, I certainly have plenty to do in terms of prep for fall--just for the 101s. I'm not even thinking about the MDC course, as I have a very strong sense that it isn't going to run, despite my very jazzy fliers. But time will tell. (Or we'll see: take your pick.)

I'm looking across the office at that enormous pile of folders that I pulled out yesterday for further organization, and I realize I have absolutely no interest in digging in to that today. Because I want to go into the City for a pair of dance classes, there is a self-imposed limit on how much time I "can" spend on campus, and I don't have enough time to wrap my mind around what needs to be done before I'd have to put it all down again. I'm not good at that. There are certain logical stopping points in any particular project, but until I'm at one of those, I hate to set everything down and try to pick up where I left off at a later time. Because of something about the way my mind works, when I try to do that, I invariably end up having to back up a bunch of steps to remember what I was doing and what my logic was. Of course, I often end up doing that even when I do reach a logical pause moment: often I'll suddenly think, "Actually, it would probably make more sense to do X," and then I have to back up and track that new logic all the way through what I've already done. I used to drive myself crazy with that with copy-editing: I'd suddenly realize that a particular style or format would make more sense than what I'd been doing--or that there was a need to codify a style or format for something--and I'd have to start all over from the beginning to implement that change (and would invariably find other errors or things to reconfigure along the way).

Oof-dah.

In any event, I have to be on campus next Tuesday for the BOT thing (and my "this will change the entire universe" three-minute remarks), but I have other things on my agenda that may make it difficult for me to put concentrated time into office organization that day. I had planned on being in to work on scheduling adjuncts for fall starting next week, but the information won't be quire ready yet. However, since I'd planned to be on campus anyway, I may go ahead and come in on those days, even knowing that I'll have to be back again the next week to start the scheduling. I strongly suspect that the scheduling will take all the mental energy I've got, so it makes sense to do office organization next week, scheduling the following week--and then be the hell away from campus until August 17, which is when I have to be back working with Bruce on the wildly complicated domino patterns that will fill the ten days or so prior to contract signing (and possibly even several days after that).

But that's later. For now, I'm going to leave that enormous pile of crap on my desk (and hope it doesn't spontaneously combust before I can get back to it), check e-mail one last time for the day, and then head off into my evening of stumbling around trying to tango.

And next week will be whatever next week will be.

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