Thursday, February 02, 2012

 

Friday Fragments


Thank you to everyone who answered the call for suggestions earlier this week about running college classes in high schools.  The point about class interruptions for announcements, proms, and such was a good one, and can be included in the words of warning we give the professors.  

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The Boy is doing CYO basketball again this year.  At last Sunday’s game, the halftime score was 4 to 2.  

Call it a defensive battle.  Or maybe pretend it’s baseball...

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Folks who think that administration is easy haven’t had to handle personnel issues.  The least appealing part of administration is being confronted with things about people that you never wanted to know.  And that’s all I’ll say about that.

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I’m done with Toshiba.  In the last two years, the count is two catastrophic hard drive failures and a cracked screen.  In the words of Roberto Duran, no mas.  I try not to let anecdotes trump statistics, but at a certain point, it becomes an issue of self-respect.  Toshiba may have a good reputation generally, but I’m done.

Nobody really makes netbooks anymore, so the quest for a good portable blogging device is more complicated.  Ipads are tempting, but I don’t want to lug around a separate keyboard, and I know full well that the kids would get a hold of it and I’d never see it again anyway.  Ultrabooks look fun, as do macbook airs, but I can’t justify the cost.  Regular laptops are far too heavy, and writing longhand is out of the question.  (My handwriting could be described as “distinctive,” as in the sentence, “Nick Nolte certainly cuts a distinctive figure in a mugshot.”)   It is fun to browse, though...

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My publisher is getting antsy.  A recent exchange, as reconstructed from my handwritten notes:

Publisher: Do you think you could helicopter the poodle by Kwanzaa?

DD: Affirmative-a-rooni, pizza!

So, another reason to replace the latest Toshiba.

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I know that “college success” courses are supposed to work wonders, but I’m having trouble getting around having to explain to the student who put it off and did just fine why he would need it to graduate.  If it’s mandatory, then it’s mandatory; failing to take it means you don’t graduate.  But if the only thing standing between you and graduation is a course on how to be a student, I’m not sure what purpose is served.

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Said this to The Boy: “You know what the secret is to writing?  WRITING!”  Now if I would just listen to myself...

Comments:
But if the only thing standing between you and graduation is a course on how to be a student, I’m not sure what purpose is served.

I was once required to take a course that I'd been teaching, because it was a required prerequisite for another program. Successfully teaching it for years didn't count, as it wasn't on my transcript. Which was a problem, as I was teaching it and I couldn't enrol in a course I was teaching…

The Registrar was a petty tyrant, and refused to listen to me, or the Deans of two colleges (one I was working for, one who's program I was entering).
 
I know that “college success” courses are supposed to work wonders, but I’m having trouble getting around having to explain to the student who put it off and did just fine why he would need it to graduate. If it’s mandatory, then it’s mandatory; failing to take it means you don’t graduate. But if the only thing standing between you and graduation is a course on how to be a student, I’m not sure what purpose is served.

What we do is structure the College Success course so that it satisfies a GE requirement for something like "Lifelong self-understanding" or whatever vague name the category has. Basically, we talk about life skills as well as college skills, and also career skills, and try to get students thinking about their careers as they navigate college. The course is optional (there are other ways to satisfy that GE requirement) but very, very, VERY heavily pushed during freshman advising. By making it satisfy a requirement we get a lot of buy-in, but by not making it the only way to satisfy the requirement we avoid the absurd situation that Dean Dad describes.
 
On the iPad: Mine has a keyboard that is integrated into the carrying case. It's flaw is that it only has a shift key on the left, so not good for a touch typist, but great in that the two are inseparable. (Also not good because of its "feel", but adequate for my uses.) A colleague has a separate keyboard (with both shift keys) that stores in his slightly larger carrying case, and I have seen a third option where the keyboard is built into a hard cover. And you must have a folio-style case to protect it, because they will break.

On your third item, I send you my sympathies and hope you didn't have one where you earned a year's salary in one day.
 
It's pretty much mandatory that our college success course be taken in the first semester. I remember when that rule was put into place and I wondered how it would be enforced. Much to my surprise, it actually does seem to be enforced quite well. But I do understand the dilemma in trying to enforce it at the 11th hour.
 
Try a chromebook--browswer only, but light and works really well for everything internet. And there are still netbooks out there.
 
The Air is worth the cost. Obviously if it means not eating for a week, forget it. But if it doesn't kill your personal finances, you'll quickly wonder how you lived without it.
 
Macbook Air is your machine. Not cheap, but they are great machines. You won't regret it.
 
If it doesn't need to be your only machine, then I highly recommend the Eee Transformer. Got one last year, and really love it. In short, it hits the best of both worlds between tablet and netbook. (I had been thinking about getting a netbook for several years.) Of course, it can be finicky, especially with some web things...like this blogger comment...I was going to post a link to a review I wrote in November, but I'm having trouble with this text box. :\

But really, it's a lovely little machine, despite that.
 
At my college we had a rule that you had to complete a lower level English comp class unless you passed a writing test after taking 90 (quarter) units. It allowed those that didn't need comp a way to test out but most people still took it anyway. Why can't the college success course be the same? If you get to 30 semester units with a 2.5 or 3.0, the requirement is waived.
 
Here's a vote to reconsider the iPad. There is the separate keyboard issue, depending on how intensively you want to type, and there are solutions. But once you get Dropbox running on it, and your desktop computer, and get in the habit of having meeting materials, financial reports, and other administrivia in electronic form, the iPad becomes a wonderful companion for meetings. And I assume you have a ton of meetings. Just hide it from the kids.
 
Here's my review of my Asus Eee Transformer - portable blogging machine is actually a pretty good description. (If you ever move away from Blogger, the WordPress Android app is delightful.)
 
“You know what the secret is to writing? WRITING!”

Hear, hear!
 
Netbooks aren't dead! I have an Acer netbook. It's awesome-sauce. Footprint is a bit over 8.5x11 so it's easy to carry with a portfolio while still boasting a 96% keyboard which works for this touch-typist.

Look through the Aspire One product line: http://us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/group/netbooks
 
Ha! I just dropped in to promote the Acer Aspire One as well. I've spent three years hauling mine from archive to dentist's office to meeting, and it's held up really well - small enough to be easily carried & big enough to have a comfortable keyboard & screen.
 
In our new realm of Student Success and Graduation rates - most schools benefit will benefit by ensuring these student success courses are programmed and )mandatory( in the first term. The burden is on the school to schedule it that way. The student can then build on this foundation and use these skills. Structure and doing what is best for the student is sometimes needed.
-executive janitor
http://careercollegelife.blogspot.com/
 
We had a Freshman Seminar class that was required for graduation. I didn't take it, but luckily for me you could skip it if your adviser signed off and allowed it.

I had forgotten about it, so I had to go to Professor Smith's office (seriously, that was her name) and ask for a waiver on the last day of school.

She narrowed her eyes and said, "You know, this class actually has a lot of valuable information".

I nodded slowly, as if in agreement. She signed the waiver and I was able to graduate.
 
The only people I know who think college success courses are worth the time (and cost) they take up are the administrators in our "student success" program. Even most of the folks who teach these courses think they're largely a waste of time. Students who don't know how to do their own laundry or can't figure out that going to class is an important part of being successful, probably need more help than a one-semester course can give (and we have robust voluntary tutoring, mentoring, and other programs to help with these things). Students who have some acquaintance with the world feel patronized.

In a CC world where many students are adults and not fresh from high school, it is all the more amazing that a "success" course could conceivably focus on life skills. I wouldn't think most adult returning students would find that valuable, and I bet they'd resent paying for it. I would.
 
On your iPad concerns . . .buy a Kindle Fire for your kids and then get the iPad (wait for 3) and get a folio w/kb. I think one was mentioned earlier, but I absolutely LOVE mine: http://www.kensington.com/kensington/us/us/s/1615/keyboard-folio-cases.aspx (third item on the page).
 
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