Wednesday, January 24, 2007

One really annoying thing this semester is that I didn't get even one "smart" room for my classes - usually I get at least one, if not two of the three in a smart room (meaning there are a computer and desktop projector). Over the years, I have made powerpoint presentations for almost all of my class sessions, and making overheads is a real hassle. Plus, I demonstrate some things on the web in a few classes. But when my class is in my building or the one next door, and you land a room with no technology, we have a computer guy who will bring a computer cart with a desktop projector to the class, and you can schedule it for the whole semester.

So while it isn't as good as a smart room, it works OK. However, when your class is in any other building, you have to go through the campus audio visual department for a computer and projector. This semester, I have no classes in my building at all, and only one of my classes is next door - one is two buildings away, one is across campus in Siberia. So not only do you have to go through audio visual, but you have to pick the cart up and return the cart yourself (which means going to the lecture center area where the audio visual office is located, and wheeling the cart from there through the tunnels to the classroom. This includes having to take the cart down and up a "hill" in the tunnels since you can't use the stairs), and you also are only able to schedule to have the cart two weeks in advance. The audio visual folks are nice enough, but what a hassle! Since I am always running late, I have no idea whether this will work for me. You'd think the university could use some of the budget to wire more rooms! Or at least hire some student assistants to schlep the carts around.

I am trying it this week, but I am afraid that I may have to go back to overheads. Here's why. I don't give my posts titles, but if I did, call this "a lesson on how not to be collegial."

I got the computer and projector from audio visual yesterday for my afternoon class. When I got to the building, the class that is in the room before mine was still in session. It was early, so that is not unexpected. So I waited, and waited, and waited. The class is supposed to get out at 1:05, and mine starts at 1:15. Well, the instructor opened the door shortly after 1:05, but the students didn't leave. They were all crowded around his desk, and he still had the overhead set up. I couldn't even get the computer cart in the door, and my students could not get in to sit down. So forget being able to get set up and test everything in advance.

Finally, at 1:15, I shoved the cart in the door, but the crowd of students didn't budge and the professor acted like I wasn't even there. He was youngish (30s), long, bushy hair and beard. Stereotypical sociology or anthropology type professor. Seemed nice enough, but extremely disorganized, and still going over details with the students crowded around him. The overhead he had up had a tiny font and was a complete page of words, like he printed a word document of lecture notes out on a slide. Finally, probably about 5 minutes into my class, he got his stuff together and said, "sorry. First week of class and everything. Do you need the overhead projector?" I said, "Umm, no. I have a computer cart." I wanted to say "can you spell O-F-F-I-C-E H-O-U-R-S?" But I was pleasant instead.

After he left, I asked my students who he was, and they told me, also his department. I was only curious, not planning to do anything with the information. (Not that I could even if I was so inclined.) Then one student volunteered, "he will do that every class." Great! Well, after a nightmare of getting everything set up and one call to audio visual when it wasn't working right, I finally got started. Then, at 2:32 (my class ends at 2:35) I dismissed my students so I could unplug everything, erase the board, and get out of the room and not be rude or clueless like the guy before me.

The minute the door opened, the students from the next class poured in, and so did the professor. She flung her briefcase on the desk, even though my stuff was still there, and stood nearby, acting very impatient! She began to do housekeeping stuff with the students that had already arrived, even though I was still snaking the electrical cords out from between the desks and rolling up the ethernet cable (one other irritation is that there seems to be only one working jack in the room and it Siberia). Anyway, her class doesn't even start until 2:45! Unbelievable. So needless to say, the experience confirmed my suspicion that I will have to use overheads instead, because that will take less time to set up and break down, except for on a select few occasions when I absolutely must use technology. At least I can avoid the "hill" in the tunnels.

To top it off, I got to my evening class, the one in the building next door...and no computer or desktop projector had been delivered. At least I remembered to bring a marker (despite the absence of technology, the room has a white board rather than a chalkboard).

But it is kind of funny for the afternoon class to be scheduled in a room after a professor who is so laid back, and before one who is so uptight. That's me: ultimately middle of the road.

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