And you thought being a student was hard...

Before my time as a Communication professor at Ivy Tech, I spent many years doing corporate and organizational training. When I decided to become an instructor, I thought it couldn't be much different from what I did for companies. Boy, I couldn't be more wrong! Although I'd never tell my students, I learn more from them than they will ever learn from me!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Isn't Technology Grand?

How is it that a college who has a boatload of online classes can't seem to have consistently working software or internet? It takes my computer at work FOREVER to load anything, half the time Blackboard eats the grades I put in, so I have to re-enter them, and if I have to re-set an online quiz one more time because either the internet or Blackboard went down, I'm going to lock my office door, strip down naked, and have some pagan dance of technology to get it to work.

Okay, now that you have that little visual in your head. ;)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What Was I Thinking?!

So, to make some additional holiday money, I agreed to pick up two second-8 weeks online courses, maxing out my overload. Each one has 75 students in it.

Dear. God.

It's the first week, and I am so swamped with answering emails about textbooks, computer and Blackboard issues, and all the administrative work that comes at the beginning of a new course, and I'm about ready to chuck my computer out the window!

This is on top of my 3 f2f classes and my other online classes. I've decided to use a faculty release day, a precious day away from all of the whiny students with their wants and their needs (okay, deep breath), to have everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING ready for the rest of the semester for all of my classes. Top on a couple of statewide course committee meetings and some in-house teacher learning symposiums, and I pretty much live at Ivy Tech. If I get behind on the blog, it's because I'm out of time. If I don't get behind, it's because I feel the need to vent or my head will explode with the next student complaint.

What was our drinking during class policy again? I need to dig out my faculty handbook...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Calm Before the Midterms

I think this is my favrorite time of the scholastic semester. All of the newness of the classes has worn off,  the no-shows have been reported, we've had enough grades to know what the class is like, and we've picked up a head of steam. From here on out, it's downhill.

We don't have a fall break (Don't know whose great idea THAT was), so after Labor Day, we push through all the way until Thanksgiving break. We seem to do okay up through midterms, but after that, we all lose steam, even we instructors, until Thanksgiving. Then it's mad dash for the week after to catch up on everything before finals the second week of December.

So, for right now, I'm not bribing my students with extra credit or candy to pay attention, they are still honestly interested in the class, and I'm not feeling burned out. Yet.

I also have two more classes to add to my schedule for the second 8 weeks once midterms are over. Talk to me then.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How Do You Teach Small Groups Without A Group?

This semester I am teaching a new to Valpo course, Small Group Communication. My background in organizational communication makes this a favorite course of mine. Delving into the psychology of group behavior, dynamics, and communication is fascinating to me. I'm a nerd, I know.

The problem with this class, though, is I only have 6 students. Six. Do you know how hard it is to do group projects with only six people? I had wanted to do four projects, but for most of them, three people aren't enough, and if I put more in one group, that means I have less than a group (2 or less people) for the other group. I guess I'm just going to have to put all six of them in one gorup.

Here's the problem with that, though. We're approaching midterms, and all but one of them are also in my Mass Media class earlier in the day, so they all know each other quite well. They know who is going to slack off, who is going to derail the conversation, who is going to be late, who is going to do all the work, etc. The learning curve of a new group in a new situation is gone.

If we hold this class next fall, I'm going to have to insist on no less than 8 students, or the class needs to be cancelled. At least we're having fun!