Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I wish I had something fascinating to write that wasn't about Lyme Disease.

How about, I have been eating "off the grid." (How Y2K.) I mean out of the garden, if not 100% homegrown then 90% garden + 5% local + 5% not local. I made zucchini parmesan, green beans with garlic, and tomato/mozzarella/basil salad. The zucchini and garlic came from the Samsonville garden. The green beans and tomatoes came from Castleton. The mozzarella, tomato sauce and eggs were local. The olive oil, sea salt and pepper were not. The bread crumbs weren't local either, but I added herbs from the Castleton garden: parsley, basil, oregano, chives. Just typing this is making my mouth water.

Class is going well. I was scrambling for a while. I've just been out of sorts, and I hardly need an excuse to procrastinate, especially in the summer. But...I just got caught up. Unfortunately, about half the class is struggling. Summer is always a challenge, but I am not sure I have ever had so many as this semester. Maybe it is Blackboard's fault.

Speaking of Blackboard, I wish there was some way to give meaningful feedback to IT Services about the courseware. There are so many great tools within it, but there are also pretty significant flaws. The help desk attributes everything to user problems. I have contacted them about the system's instability - crashing, not saving changes, other minor glitches. The answer to that seems to be I have the wrong version of java or maybe it's that I have more than one version of java. However, there doesn't seem to be a place to share concerns not just about whether things work but about the way things work.

For instance, when I evaluate student essays, if the student sent me an attachment, after I grade it, I have to rename it or the system won't attach it because it believes it to be a duplicate. That's no user problem. That's extra work for me. Also when grading essays, if the student did not use an attachment, there is no way for me to write comments within the assignment. There is only a drop down comment box - so I can't correct grammar, sentence structure, etc. as I have always done in the past. The most annoying, extra-work-making so far is something that isn't the fault of the courseware itself, but of IT Services' policies. Already my Spring courses are gone. They archived them, I guess. I would think that they could stay around for one semester, so that I could have easy access to last semester's materials until I am done developing the next semester's work, wouldn't you? I know server space must be premium or something but if they didn't have the infrastructure to support the change, why did they do it? Anyway, there are myriad other issues, but those are just three examples.

(That may not have been fascinating, but at least it was something other than Lyme Disease and how much doxy sucks.)

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