Saturday, September 06, 2014

I got to the BB room early in Thursday night and immediately switched the tables and chairs in the last two rows to be facing the "back," where the closet is. I arranged them into two curves, and took a table for my stuff, moving it near the closet. There was one chair on casters that wasn't there last week, and that made me very happy!

I only needed one projection screen, and I used the monitor and built-in keyboard, but it is awful! Can it really be that the closet design is the result of consensus? If so, this is one case where that didn't work well, and a person with good sense should have made an executive decision.

First, it is hard to both pull it out and put it away, and second, you have to stand up, facing the closet, not the students, to operate it. Finally, It has a touch pad laptop-style mouse that is marginal (I hate them). There is nowhere to put the wireless mouse if you wanted to use that instead.

I had to call for help to put it away when class was over. The nice young man from tech support showed me the trick to doing it, and I think it won't be a problem in the future, but that does nothing about having to stand with my back to the students.

That said, I was able to show them Collaborate and a brief powerpoint. The students overall are very good, a nice mix of PhD and MS and they all came prepared. Class discussion and small team meeting #1 went well. Unfortunately two have dropped (leaving me with 10).

After class, two students helped me put the tables back into four rows, but we also switched all the chairs to face the opposite way from how the room was originally set up, on the theory that no one will change it back since it makes more sense due to the closet's location.

Near the classroom is deserted Thursday nights -- there were one or two classes in the rooms in the main part of the basement with interior windows overlooking the lounge, but nothing in any room in the entire section where my class meets. Kind of strange. Does no one like the building?

Something I notice now that I am teaching a graduate class is students’ Blackboard skill level is lower than among undergrads. Anecdotal of course, and it is true that undergrads occasionally have issues with the same tool (figuring out how to view my comments on evaluated assignments) but it seems more common with grad students. I get asked for feedback and when I ask “beyond what I already wrote on your paper?” invariably they confess that they couldn’t figure it out and only saw the score with no comments.

Something totally unrelated: I had my left temple dyed purple. I tried to have this done 20 years ago and it was a disaster. My hair did not take kindly to having the black stripped out, and it didn't accept the dye well, either. It turned orange, and eventually snapped off from too much processing. I'd NEVER dye my hair to cover my salt and pepper -- I love my hair -- but this little purple patch is awesome! Hair products have improved tremendously in 20 years.

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