January 21st, 2015



I was busy today setting up a post-test for a series of online modules the students have to complete in the next few weeks. Prior to my arrival, this was a pencil and paper affair, with an abysmal first-time pass rate. I took the test apart and went through the modules to see what the problem was.

Well, the problem was that at least a third of the test question material isn't covered in the modules. Not to mention that many of the questions are lame. I figured this all out in the middle of the last semester, and my semester break project was going to be to fix it.

As I mentioned, though, I didn't feel like fixing it then, so I have spent the last two days fixing it now. I rewrote a lot of the questions, made sure there was corresponding material in the modules, and set it all up in our online teaching forum. The students can take the test online, it scores automatically, and if they fail they can take it again.

My fellow 4th semester instructors were somewhat dubious initially. They prefer the safety of the pencil and paper method. The last time we gave the test, they argued back and forth for about 45 minutes how to score a single item, worth either a half or a whole point on a single student's test, when the student in question missed so many they could have awarded 10 points for the the item and the student still would have failed.

The other thing I did was set up some discussion forums for the students to pose questions about content and concepts. I thought this would be easier than receiving 10 emails asking the same question. Again, my fellow instructors were skeptical. They had tried a discussion forum once and it didn't work out.

However, once I showed them how all this stuff would work, and how it would save us all time, they were fairly enthusiastic and on-board, at least for the short term. I'm trying not to be the guy who comes in and changes everything, but I do have ideas, and they appreciate that. They have been doing this a long time, and know a lot. Fortunately, we have all known each other for a long time, and have a great deal of respect for each other, which makes it a lot easier.

I am not sure I mentioned it before, but one of my co-instructors was my teacher when I went through the program. That was her first semester teaching. Now we are colleagues. I think that's pretty cool. I expect I will vent about them here from time to time, but I have tremendous respect for both of them.

There was a minor crisis in the office this morning, about something I cared almost nothing about. In the middle of it the thing let me know it was time to take a walk. So I excused myself and walked across the campus. At the main entrance is a panther, the school mascot. I photographed it almost ten years ago as a school project for the public information office, and it ended up on almost every publication the school put out for a few years. That was pretty cool.

So the first photos I took with the new phone are of the panther, which takes me all the way back to when I was just learning how to be a photographer.


Music: Ryan Adams. Longtime readers may recall that he has been one of my favorites for 10 years now. He put out a great new album last year, and has been releasing random singles since then. This is one of them, and one I really like.

I will play it tomorrow on my online radio show. It's from 6-8 pm pacific time at Radio Attic: http://arakis.slstreams.net:8378/listen.pls
  • Current Music
    Ryan Adams--No Shadow