Thursday, September 12, 2002


I do not take drinking lightly. I take the words of Barenaked Ladies seriously: "I thought that drinking just to get drunk was a waste of precious booze. But now I know that there's a time and there's a place where I can choose to walk the fine line between self control and self abuse."

And today is that day.

I think I figured out exactly why I am so down. It isn't 911, the fear of terrorism, failure of my nation's leadership to ... DO something, shit or get off the pot already as it were.

It is because
to a
thing i

Specifically -- Professor MF. And it is starting to really get on my last little frayed nerve.

For weeks now here people, you've heard me say that this isn't going to work. Well, it came about 60% close to working, which is about 40% better than I initially expected. So I'm kind of impressed.

But the other missing 40% from the success rate makes me 100% convinced that I am right. This class isn't going to work online this way, and teaching it augmented on web will be 1000% perfect.

All the students were on screen, some doubled together in the lab. MF sat with a student because the audio on the instructors PC didn't work, so I sat there zapping people out of the room because the brand new feature to block people sucks ass and doesn't work.

The students who were at home pretty much had it down, some of them were experts in minutes. Except for the two girls. The one girl had no audio, mic or speakers. So I typed to her in the chat area when I wasn't busy kicking people out of the room. The other girl would just not stop fucking talking, and with the audio delay, her words were coming in over Professor MF's, and no one could follow, no one knew what was going on.

MF would tell people to switch over to the internet browser they were in (there are 2 things open on your desktop, the Internet logged into the course content at Blackboard, and the tool for Cu-Seeme. Half the kids understood how to use the toolbar on the bottom of the screen to move from Cu-SeeMe over to blackboard, click on the content they were supposed to read/watch/listen to.

The other half--like the lead character from "Memento." They have clues. They have some idea. They just can't fit everything together. They have no short term memory. What are they supposed to be listening to? What week are we in? Who am I? Someone killed my wife and I have to find who did it and kill them.

It was very very frustrating for them and for me by the middle of the second hour, and I could see them getting mad, and I know I was. MF started to get the flow down, instructing kids NOT to talk if it wasn't their turn, to mute their microphones (girl 2 decided she wasn't being spoken to, everytime I looked at the screen her mouth was going all jabberwocky. So her efforts were fruitless.

She pressed on with the class... and when they were done, we all felt like we'd pushed a rock up a hill together and it rolled down upon our limp, sweaty bodies. At that point, she got the students to talk in the chat box, since some of them couldn't speak or be heard, to say whether or not they wanted to come back in this format next week or meet in person.

She wants very badly to make this work... and a bunch of the students do too. Some, like me, think this is a waste of time. She told them she'll give each of them an A if they hang in there, and 106 credits. All joking aside, it's nice that there are willing participants, but I think that it is just not fully realized.

But no one listens to me.

One kid can't take the class in person at all due to his schedule, so he'd end up dropping and it's past the add/drop period now. So she's got that to contend with. There are real academic issues here facing her. She has to decide what to do and do it fast. I'm amazed that I've been home an hour and the phone hasn't rung yet.

My sister emailed me during class and told me to do this:

"take your left hand, place it her right shoulder. take your right hand, place it on her left shoulder. tighten grip on shoulders and BEGIN TO SHAKE HER BACK AND FORTH AND SIDE TO SIDE WHILE SCREAMING "WHY THE FU*K WON'T YOU LISTEN TO ME? JEST B'CAUSE I AM NOT A PROFESSOR I STILL KICK YOUR ASS IN TECH MATTERS AND YOU ARE AN INCREDIBLE UNREALISTIC OVER EDUCATED IDIOT!!!!"

"**you may smack her a couple of times between shakes, and to punctuate between insults. preferably with your right hand in a back-hand style as she is trying to right herself upright from being shaken the other direction. a back hand accompanied with a flat out slap across the face works well with satisfactory results.

"to inflict more harm on the back hand be sure all of the rings on your fingers that have stones or designs of any kind are full out and upright to cause facial scratches and dings."

Too bad I'm not wearing any rings.

So, if anyone has EARNED a drink, so help me Lord Jebus it is ME tonight. And I don't say that lightly. I don't look at alcohol as a reward for a hard day.

'cept right this very fucking minute.

She (MF) hugged me and sort of cried and moaned "God, I need a drink!" after the kids had left. She then collapsed onto the floor and curled up in a foetal position and said "Tell me why... WHY!!?? Why doesn't it work?"

I told you why it doesn't work! You didn't listen! You won't listen. You refuse to listen. And the funny thing is, the content of the class is Interpersonal Communication -- you have sections on how to listen. But you, yourself, a doctorate-holding communications specialist refuse to communicate, listen, accept and cope. Would Alanis say "Isn't it Ironic?" and be...correct for a change?

You, darling, have created this hell. And it is up to you, darling, to undo it and do it right. Teach the course as a web enhanced lecture class. Teach it the way it will work right. Teach it better than any class they will ever EVER take. I've told you this a million times. A billion million. Please. please please listen.

I didn't say it like that -- I told her that the course is wonderful but she is putting the technology before the learning, that the technology has to take a back seat to the teaching, or the kids are going to get nothing out of this.

Working with technology as an educator doesn't mean that you do the top tier of what can maybe be done -- it is when you use manageable technology which augments and enhances the learning experience. Not technology which needs to be a learning experience on its own.

If we had 2 weeks to just work with the technology and get the flow down 100% for the kids, iron out all their bugs, and make that portion of things work, I'd be 90% behind this. As is -- from one week to the next some of these kids are like goldfish and the little plastic castle will be a surprise every time... to steal from the lovely and talented Ani.


Top all this off with the fact that no one in my own HOUSE listens to me either. Specifically, The Boy. And the Puppy. And the Girl. And sometimes the Husband. Which is pretty much everyone. I feel like I'm talking to myself, or I'm watching a movie and yelling at it--of course getting no response, the actors will still do what they want in the scene even if I know what the outcome will be.

I'm hoping to talk to MF tonight. Tell her that she can run the class in cyberspace next week, but that I think she is totally wasting time.

Well, tomorrow should be a better day. Another Cateringman day, hopefully I won't have to cut as many onions as I did the other day. Tra-la, tra-freakin'-la. Shoot me now.

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