So, just the other day as I rode home on the train, I was thinking to myself how nice it is not to have to be fighting about paper and copiers anymore, a thought that came to mind as I walked out of the building and saw the signs taped to the doors saying students would not be let in without their IDs. “This again,” I thought as I walked by, which drew my mind into other policy battles of the past (e.g., the Great Copy/Printer battles of 2012). Happily distracted by thoughts of gratitude I didn’t think much of the new ID policy, knowing that our active and effective Faculty Council was on the case and, surely, this wouldn’t be a thing again.
And then, just yesterday, I had a student show up at the very end of her class’ first examination, in the last two minutes of class, actually, apologizing and worried. She remembered having her ID with her at home in the morning, but somewhere between that memory and her arrival at school, she’d misplaced it. Unfortunately, she didn’t have ten dollars with her, nor a bank card to get some, so she had to go back home, get a check, get to a bank, cash it, return to school, pay the ten bucks, get a new ID and then find her professor and hope that she could get a make-up (which, as you surely can imagine) is not a guarantee for any college student.
In other words, this young woman could easily have lost the chance to pass the class (while, nevertheless on the hook for paying for it because she misplaced her ID one morning and goes to a school that refuses any other means than $10 to verify that she is in fact a student at the school. Had she been allowed to log in to Blackboard or MyCCC.edu on her phone or on a computer in the lobby, the security guards could have easily verified her status and purpose.
Talking to her, I had a tremendous sense of deja-vu. This policy is a policy that creates problems for our students by solving a problem for…whom exactly? Security? Administrators? Who? And then it hit me. We’ve seen this one before. And I wrote about it before. So I went back and found my post about the last time this happened, and re-read it, and found that EVERY SINGLE CRITICISM applies now. Was SGA involved? Was Faculty Council (hint: No)? Is there data supporting broad HWC community desire for this policy (or some other reason–legal, safety (has there been a spike in thefts by unidentifiable visitors?)? Is this the plan to make up for the service-sucking state-budget-created black hole of a problem one Hamilton at a time? What problem is it solving and for whom? Who knows? So, why now? Good question.
In an active attempt to hybridize CAST content, Kamran and I decided to take a two-prong delivery approach for CASTivities this spring: we’ve kept traditional meetings, but we have actively sought to CAST (pun, absolutely and totally, intended) a wider net.
I have been working to diversify and digitize content via podcasts or what Kamran coined: CASTpods. Currently, we’re housing the CASTpods on Sound Cloud. You can take a listen there, which 0ver150 almost 275300 400 of you have. Here’s a rundown of the first sixcurrent nine fourteen for the spring 2016 semester. Due to space constraints, some of the earlier CASTpods have been archived on Dropbox.
CASTpod #1 (archived)
In the inaugural CASTpod, Kristin and Kamran talk about the preliminary questionnaire results; bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress; and what historical figure Kristin identifies with and how Kamran would choose to die.
CASTpod #2 (archived)
In the second CASTpod of the spring 2016 semester, Kristin talks about the spaces where we learn with faculty member Elisabeth Heard Greer. Elisabeth also serves as the academic online coordinator for the English department. From Malcolm X’s car sitting on a platform at the newly opened MXC to Foucault, Elisabeth and Kristin chat about the physical and virtual places where we teach and our students learn.
CASTpod #3 (archived)
For the third CASTpod of the spring 2016 semester, Kristin talks about math education with faculty member Chris Sabino. As an impetus for our discussion, we reference Conrad Wolfram’s TED Talk: “Teaching Kids Real Math with Computers.” Chris waxes mathematical about why we teach students math, numeracy, the value of math education, and the conceptual and practical realities of math education.
CASTpod #4 (archived)
The fourth CASTpod of the semester is a conversation between Kristin Bivens and Youth Work scholar and teacher Michael Heathfield. Mike is a youth work and assessment scholar who has an impressive publication and speaking record on both accounts. In our discussion, one that emotionally and intellectually engaged me as a Chicagoan, teacher, and scholar, we discuss the role of violence, social justice, and a staggering 47% statistic that you need to listen to Mike speak about. There are changes underfoot and Mike most eloquently shows the impact of those changes on our students while suggesting privileging the recruitment of a certain kind of student at CCC.
CASTpod #5 (archived)
For the fifth CASTpod of the semester, assessment gurus Carrie Nepstad and Erica McCormack join me for a conversation about the Assessment Committee’s integral role at HW. At the end of the discussion, I draw the conclusion regarding apt disciplinary positioning that makes Child Development (CD) faculty the leaders in assessment. At the end of our CASTpod, we share worries about our CD colleagues, as well as wonder about the HLC’s next visit.
CASTpod #6 (archived)
One CASTpod just wasn’t enough for talking assessment with Carrie Nepstad. So, Carrie joins me again this week for CASTpod #6 to discuss “Closing the Loop”–the Assessment Committee’s effort to take what we learn via assessment to improve our teaching and our students’ learning. Want to get involved? Check out the Assessment Committee’s page: www.ccc.edu/colleges/washington…ges/Assessment.aspx
Frank Wang, in the 7th CASTpod of the semester, discusses his National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Numeracy Infusion Course for Higher Education (NICHE) during his recent visit from La Guardia Community College (CUNY) to Harold Washington College (CCC) with Kristin. Dr. Wang defines numeracy as the “contextualized use of numbers and data in a manner that requires critical thinking.” Further, he explains how NICHE is similar to Writing Across the Curriculum programs on many higher education campuses, while explaining the importance of quantitative reasoning across curriculum in community colleges.
The mid-term and CASTpod 8 are here. And in keeping with being in the middle of things, in this week’s CASTpod Kristin talk about embodiment, quantitative data in context, and post-humanism. She calls on our colleagues to be aware of how you use technology in the classroom and she suggests the potential repercussions that go hand-in-hand with technology–disembodied decision making.
CASTpod #9 For the 9th CASTpod of the spring 2016 semester, Kristin interviews esteemed colleague Jen Asimow from Applied Sciences. In the interview, Jen offers practical, expert, and preliminary advice for thinking about re-designing courses using universal backward design principles. During the conversation, Kristin queries where should someone begin if they’re interested in re-vamping an inherited course? Or designing a new one? Spoiler alert: start with SPAS and SLOs. Teaser: you’re going to have to listen to Jen explain how and why.
CASTpod #10 Joining me for the first CASTpod post-spring break is Associate Dean of Instruction Cindy Cerrentano and co-chair of the department of English, Speech, Theater, and Journalism Sarah Liston. In a longer CASTpod, Cindy, Sarah, and Kristin discuss some data regarding high risk courses at HW, the importance of contextualizing these (and all) statistics, and connections between success, learning, and embodiment.
Kristin begins by asking a tough question: aren’t we always going to have high risk courses? If you accept the premise of that question, you’ll enjoy the dialogue that ensued.
CASTpod #11 If you’ve been at HW long enough, you know that my guest for CASTpod 11 has worn many hats: faculty member, department chair, dean of instruction, vice president, and primary HLC self-study author, Dr. John Hader. Hader has superbly served many roles in his more than 20 years at HW. In this week’s CASTpod, I pick Hader’s brain about his experience writing the self-study report from the last HLC visit nearly (gasp!) ten years ago.
We discuss what he learned, how he managed it, and expertise according to Barbara Oakley. Oakley uses neuroscience to explain experts as “mak[ing] complex decisions rapidly, shut[ing] down their conscious system and rely[ing] on their well-trained intuition and deeply engrained repertoire of [learned] chunks [of knowledge].” Experts wear many hats, and in our conversation, Hader explores some of his.
Did you know there are many spaces where students can work with a tutor? In this week’s podcast—the twelfth of the spring 2016 semester—BriAnne Nichols sat down with me to discuss the work the office of academic support does.
Teaching face-to-face? There are tutoring opportunities for your students. Teaching online? There are tutoring opportunities for your students. Teaching hybrid? There are tutoring opportunities for your students.
See the trend? There are numerous opportunities for you to work with academic support to further enhance your students’ learning. You can listen to BriAnne explain how you can get involved and what we currently offer. (And don’t worry, I think she’ll present more during FDW.)
Thinking about teaching without a textbook? In the #13 CASTpod of the spring semester, Math Department’s Jeff Swigart eloquently explains his choices to seek out alternatives to textbooks for the math courses he instructs using Open Education Resources (OER). When asked about the essential question faculty should consider before choosing an OER, he responded: evaluate the text before you choose it.
Whatever your position on OERs versus traditional textbooks from for-profit publishers, OER’s are current alternatives for faculty and students to deliver content in traditional classroom spaces. Further, an important and pivotal question for teachers and teaching: do we use technology to close or open learning opportunities?
Whether you can believe it or not, it’s almost the end of the 2016 spring semester. Looking forward, in a solo CASTpod #14, Kristin talks about the soon-to-be-in if not-already-in-your-inbox Faculty Development Week (FDW) proposal request for presentations.
The theme of FDW 2016 is Creating Connections Across Divides. FDW will be held at HWC from Tuesday, August 16 to Friday, August 19 (9am to 3pm each day).
Please submit your proposal by May 20.
To submit, follow the Google Form link in the CCC email announcement.
Compensation for Presenting: Part time faculty are paid $25 per 1 hour of presentation (a maximum of $100). This is in addition to any compensation administration offers for attendance. For example, if a PT faculty member presents two, 2-hour sessions they will be paid $100.
Full time faculty are comped 1 hour of registration duties for each hour of FDW presentation. Presenting does not count as additional attendance for required FDW time. For example, if an FT faculty member with standard registration duties provides two one-hour presentations, they will only be required to complete 28 registration hours.
As always, we invite a wide variety of useful and/or stimulating breakaway sessions from faculty, including both full-time and part-time. To help you frame (but not limit) your proposal submission, you might find it helpful to consider Creating Connections Across Divides–the FDW 2016 theme.
Some suggestions for sessions might include, but are not limited to:
+ Discipline Exhibitions: Past sessions like the Cadaver Lab Tour, Architecture Walk, and Creative Writing Workshops provide a sample of all the amazing activities and inquiries going on throughout the rest of our building. Our community is filled with experts from a wide variety of disciplines. It is often a pleasure to learn something from our colleagues’ expertise, and these experiences can often have unexpected benefits in our own classrooms. We are interested both in reprisals of past sessions and new ideas.
+Semester Preparation: Sessions that help faculty setup their Blackboard sites, re-design a syllabus, or think of a new plan for assignments and tests are useful to many faculty. We are interested in presenters who wish to provide a tutorial on different design strategies, lead a workshop, or facilitate a showcase of completed syllabi, Blackboard sites, or assignments.
+Science of Teaching: If you have been doing research on the science of teaching, it may be useful for our community for you to disseminate and share what you’ve learned.
+Technologies in Pedagogy: As technology changes, faculty will find more applications for various programs and devices within the classroom. If you have something you would like to share, we would be happy to put you on the program.
+Seminar Discussions: Are you interested in hosting a seminar discussion around a particular pedagogical question or topic? This year, we are encouraging proposals for open-ended seminar discussions in the hopes of fostering more exchanges of ideas and perspectives between faculty.
+Support System Tutorials: Everybody loves filling out travel reimbursement forms, but sometimes a tutorial on our various support systems can be useful. If you feel comfortable and experienced with a particular set of support systems, we encourage you to share your knowledge.
Again, these are merely suggestions, and we will be happy to consider proposals that fall outside the above topics and within or outside the FDW theme: Creating Connections Across Divides.
See you at FDW 2016!
Thanks for continuing to listen listening!
I have had the most worthwhile experiences talking with our colleagues about different topics. The discussions in CASTpods #4 and #5 haunt me still.
As you may know, the masters of the universe are busy revising and consolidating policy manuals in the name of simplification and clarity. If you just cringed, or even flinched, involuntary, prepare yourself for worse. If such a project were proposed as the central theme of an episode of The Office or Bob’s Burgers or something, one would expect hilarity to ensue; unfortunately, this is real life, and so the outcome is closer to abject stupidity, if not horrifyingly and stupifyingly bad decisions and more, imminent embarrassment for the colleges that we love and to which we dedicate ourselves.
You may recall the hootenanny about hats from 2010 or 2011 (can’t remember exactly when the “head covering policy” and the inconsistent enforcement of it became an issue on campus; I thought I wrote about it, but can’t find it now. Anyway, it was a big enough deal–specifically, the lack of enforcement–that it was turned into a “scenario” question for the VP Search Committee that led to Margie’s hiring a year or two later). As I recall, word came down, rather suddenly and without explanation (surprise, surprise) that the policy had to be enforced and universally. This led to a couple of unpleasant confrontations on different campuses between students wearing various kinds of hats and headcovers for various reasons and the security guards who were following orders. The policy–long as obsolete as it was futile with respect to deterring or affecting gang activity, and about as culturally arbitrary as banning sneakers would be–seems to be a zombie element of the Policy Manual. The current version (see Page 77) reads like this:
Students entering City Colleges of Chicago buildings are required to remove all head coverings unless such coverings are associated with religious beliefs or documented medical conditions.
This week Mike Davis contacted me about the revised version of this policy. Apparently, he’s among those reviewing and commenting on the drafts. The draft form of the new policy reads as follows:
Dress Code Policy
CCC students are expected to dress appropriately while on campus as a demonstration of their seriousness of purpose, out of respect for their peers, faculty and staff, and to model behavior that is consistent with their chosen career pathway and what will be expected of them in the workforce.
(a)Head Covering Policy
The wearing of head coverings can cause undue attention and distraction and may interfere with the educational process for all students. Students should not wear baseball hats, caps, hoods, and other head coverings while inside CCC buildings and facilities. Students will be asked to remove their head covering to comply with this policy.
Religious or Medical Exemption – This policy does not apply to head coverings associated with an individual’s sincerely held religious beliefs or a documented medical condition. If a student wishes to wear a head covering which is associated with his or her sincerely held religious beliefs or a documented medical condition, the student must request such an accommodation at the College Student Services Office by completing a Religious and Medical Head Covering Exemption Form.
Students should not wear clothing in an indecent or improper manner. Examples of inappropriate clothing include clothing that exposes undergarments and/or indecently exposes body parts. Shirts/blouses, pants/shorts/skirts, and shoes must be worn at all times.
Failure to adhere to the dress code policy will be considered a violation of the Standards of Conduct and a student may be subject to discipline.
I can’t even deal with that first paragraph, so I’m going to completely ignore it, lest I get lost in it. I also cannot and will not deal with the B section, but except to say that in 12 years of teaching, I’ve never experienced a situation that requires this policy. Maybe I’ll find people running the hallways barefoot in their underwear tomorrow, but somehow I doubt it. Let’s talk about the headcovering section. Mike’s response was much kinder than mine would have been; when he saw the draft, he responded writing,
“Someone better re-think this immediately. All students who wear head coverings (and Truman has a lot of people in hijabs (employees and students)) are going to be required to ask for permission to continue doing so by filling out a form at the Student Services Office?!?!? Headcoverings are not an issue, and this targets Muslim students. This is extrememly dis-respectful and doesn’t belong in the manual.We’ve had a ‘no hats’ policy for a while. In winter, people wear their winter hats in class (because many times its still cold in there), and it doesn’t bother anyone. Seeing hijabs only adds to the diversity of the school. Making people register for them is really just awful.”
Truman’s VP, Pervez Rahman, responded with wholehearted agreement and proposed dropping the second sentence of the exemption section. That was a Thursday. The response from VC Michael Mutz that arrived on the following Monday begins by saying, “We need to finalize this language.” (The ol’ ‘Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry!’ treatment, as John Hader would refer to it). Why? My guess is that they’re trying to get this ready for approval at the February Board meeting. Impressively, it gets worse from there.
Mr. Mutz then wonders how security will know who is exempt if the students don’t fill out the form? We need a process, he suggests, or we’ll have to stop everyone or no one. (Nice framing, eh? He’s already ruled out any consideration of abandoning the policy.) He explains that students will follow the process so they can receive a sticker on their IDs, which they can then show to security to prove that they are exempt from this policy. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. Without a sticker on an ID how could a security guard working at an educational institution possibly judge whether a head covering might be worn for religious reasons and distinguish a yarmulke from a ski cap?
My reaction was something like this:
A sticker. On their ID. A form to get a sticker to prove themselves exempt from a policy that explicitly does not apply to them. We’re going to make students fill out a form to publicly declare and affirm their religious affiliation–a requirement that is beyond the requirements of some of the religions themselves! Anything leap to mind? Any historical associations out there that jump up and bite you? What color do you think it should be? What shape?
I mean, I guess it would be worse if there were a climate of intolerance toward some of the religions likely to be most affected by this policy…oh wait. I guess there’s this and this and this and this and this and this. Surely our fearless and thoughtful leaders considered these concerns. They even say, multiple times, that they understand the concerns, but in the end, nothing can be done. VP Rahman’s proposal to keep the policy but delete the part about the form and the sticker won’t work, they say. Why not? One person, Beatrice O’Donnell, states that without the sentence in question, security staff would not know where to send students to fill out the form for their exemption!
Talk about missing the point! But that’s enough for VC Mutz who says that it seems to be “very important text” and follows that with a plea to finalize the language (exactly three hours after his first response). Mike Davis, perhaps accustomed to this kind of inanity from his time in meetings on Jackson, responds, more patient than I would have been, writing,
This policy is a mistake, and should be reconsidered. Wearing a head covering for religious purposes is the individuals right, and it is not dependent upon CCC’s acknowledgement or permission. Requiring students and employees to individually get permission to wear their religious head coverings is unnecessary at best. The whole reason we’ve had a policy was mostly about hats.
I’ve looked around and I found no other places that require students wearing religious head coverings to register. There is no need for such a policy.
That said, I saw this statement in the security memos:
1. If the individual advises the officer that the head covering is for a cultural, religious, medical, or for special needs, the officer will NOT question the requested exception.
2. Safety and Security Officers will NOT probe for further information.
A third step asked them to proceed to the correct CCC office, presumably for the form. Just eliminate that step. That would be fine. No need to individually mark IDs. No need to make people sign forms to practice their religion. This is unnecessary.
Which is when the General Counsel, Eugene Munin weighs in, which I quote in full:
Thank you for your comments and I appreciate your concerns. As you know, we have had a policy prohibiting head coverings (not hats) for many years. The policy also included an exemption for those with religious beliefs or medical conditions. The reason that the most recent change was made is because the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) demanded that CCC have some clearly outlined process by which those with sincerely held religious beliefs could be assured that they were approved for this exemption. OCR directed that we make this change, reviewed the precise language, and approved the change. This was part of a settlement in a case that we had with a student from Daley College and we are not in a position to unilaterally modify the language at this point.
As I said, I appreciate your concerns, but this was a settlement of a case with the federal government and we cannot change the language.
Yes. We cannot change the language. At least not as long as we keep the policy. And we’ve had this policy for years! (So, who are we to change it? Is that the point? Really? WTF?) Which raises the question–if they really shared Mike and VP Rahman’s concerns, why not at least consider eliminating the policy? I’m no lawyer, but I know what words mean and I’m pretty sure that such a move would make the OCR issue a moot point. If there is no head-covering policy, there is no need for students to be assured of their exemption from it. So why do we need this policy again? To tell Crips from Bloods on the streets of 1980s LA? Hats are not signifying anything that isn’t communicated in multiple other ways and this policy will do more to cause “undue attention, distraction,” and interference “with the educational process for all students” than it would if I walked in wearing Carmen Miranda’s fruit basket on my head.
I’d love to hear how this policy contributes to the four Reinvention goals. I’m sure it allows for savings that come from consolidating resources. Doesn’t everything they do? More than anything, though, I’d love to hear them talk about how they can fit the CCC commitment to diversity with their preference for a policy that makes people register their religious beliefs so that students aren’t wearing caps in class. THAT is a speech I’d buy a ticket for, even if it were at some fancy downtown club filled with people whose imaginations end at the tip of their egos.
Mike encourages anyone with feedback on this policy to voice their issues to Michael Mutz (email@example.com) and Eugene Munin (firstname.lastname@example.org). The next board meeting is February 4th.
Speaking of trigger warnings, a colleague passed along a survey put together by and education reporter at NPR named Meg Anderson. She writes:
We are doing some informal research at colleges nationwide on the use of “trigger warnings” – a disclaimer to students that upcoming material could have adverse effects for students.
She invited my colleague to share the survey with “faculty and staff in your department who teach students directly,” and gave me permission to do the same. If you’re interested, click HERE for the survey. It takes less than a minute unless you’re a really, really slow reader. If you’d like to know more/say more, you can contact her at email@example.com.
Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.
The Atlantic has been killing it for a few years now, especially on topics related to race, class, and sex/gender, but the pace of excellent readings has picked up decidedly in the last six months or so.
Let’s start with their star. If you’re not on the Te-Nehisi Coates train yet, you should be. Coates’ book Between the World and Me came out last spring and if nothing else introduced a new generation of readers and activists to the work of one of America’s great writers–James Baldwin–through his adoption of of Baldwin’s essay trope. In the book, In his book Coates, like Baldwin, writes a letter to a member of the next generation about what it means to be a young black man in America. The book has provoked a ton of commentary–a review by Michelle Alexander, another by Tressie MC (who also published a really interesting description of her reading process–which I wish I’d read when I was an undergrad or grad student) and ALSO publishes provocative sociological/media commentary like this in The Atlantic), not to mention David Brooks and elsewhere.
And, as suggested above, it’s not just a one man show. Want to know more about the Black Lives Matter movement? They’ve got you. Want to know more about what some politicians are doing to try to stem the disproportionate violence faced by young black men? They’ve got you.
Sam the Intern writes with the following information:
My name is Sam S., the marketing intern at the Goodman Theatre. With our season starting up, the Goodman would like to invite you to attend our upcoming College Night for our show Disgraced on Tuesday September 29th starting at 6PM. Join us for pizza, a discussion with actor Behzad Dabu, and a performance of this straight from Broadway play all for $10!
Anyone know how to look up a student’s academic history in our fabulous new system?
When I’m writing letters of recommendation, I sometimes use students’ history as part of their story. I’ll be dang-nabbed if I can figure out how to find an academic history on our new and “improved” system, though.
This Thursday! Per our Transfer Magician, Ellen Goldberg:
I invited 4300 rock star women with GPAs of 3.4 or higher in the district to attend Information Sessions (at HWC and Wright College too) for Smith College or Mount Holyoke College. The one at HWC will be on Thursday, October 30, 2014 in room 102 from 3-4:30 p.m. Smith and Holyoke are two amazing liberal arts schools for women in Massachusetts who love our students and typically give them full-ride scholarships. I went back to the data from the information session last year in October of 2013, and out of the 10 women that attended, two are at Mount Holyoke, and one is at Smith. That’s so awesome that 3 out of 10 actually transferred to New England! Dulce Mora Flores (our Jack Kent Cooke Winner) went to Smith College. Janelle Thorson from HWC went to Mount Holyoke and Kimberly Neil from Malcolm X College went to Mount Holyoke. Check out the link with photos of the women at HWC, Malcolm X, and Wright that transferred this fall! http://bit.ly/Smith-HolyokeCCCTumblr We owe are thanks to the amazing Professor Emeritus, Betty Harris, who established the relationship with Smith and Holyoke! It has really grown over the last decade!
Please remind any great students to go and check it out–they love our students and take good care of them. It’s a great opportunity for non-traditional, women students. In the last two years, two of the students who received full rides were great students who got the email about the event, didn’t read it, and only went because someone told them about it, which led to them finding, in their words, their “dream school” and getting full rides.
Tell someone to go. Even if she doesn’t love these schools, she may get the message that she can dream big.
So, I’m a fan. I helped a couple of students work through the process during registration, and I liked what I saw.
I like the look of the interface, I like that students can use their financial aid vouchers and buy their books with a click or two. As a faculty member, I like being able to snoop into the reading lists of other classes (both other philosophy classes at other colleges and across departments at our own) without having to use the clunky PeopleSoft thing. And, best of all, I like not sending our students to a bookstore that I thought was ripping them off, even for used books. I always liked Hector and found him helpful, but the prices at Beck’s were frequently outrageous.
So, in short, it seems like a big improvement. Kudos to anyone and everyone involved with the decision.
On the delta side of things, I (and another colleague) have noted that WAY fewer students have their texts in hand on the first day of class than when there was a physical bookstore. I have a theory as to why. When students have selected their books and are checking out, they get three options for shipping (Expedited, Standard, and something else) and each shows a range of dates. The range, though, is not standard. So the expedited option one might say, expected arrival 8/26-8/29 and cost $52 in shipping, while the standard option said the expected arrival was 8/28 to 9/6, but only cost $15. The student, then chose the standard option and said, “Well, it’s way less, and it’s only two days later.” In other words, she only looked at the first number of the range, rather than considering the possibility that she might be waiting for her books until almost the third week of class. After we talked about it, she said, “It all comes out of my aid, right?” and I nodded and she selected “Expedited.” I know to double check the second date of that range because I have messed up so many times on my own orders. Even though I buy a lot of used books on Amazon, even now I end up sometimes hoping to get them in a certain time frame and grinding my teeth for misreading the shipping information.
It’ll be interesting to watch how this plays out and whether (as I fear) many students, even more than usual, will have to struggle through the first few weeks of class while waiting for books to arrive.
I have also found it interesting to watch as the prices and used/marketplace book availability fluctuates from day to day. Four days ago, a book for one of my classes (one I hoped to start with) was only available as New ($28) and it said, “On Backorder 1-2 Weeks.” But when I looked on Sunday, there were copies available under “Used” and “Marketplace” that were half the price of the new one. Then today, it only shows New as available and it is listed again on backorder. So, a student who times their order right, can save a lot of money. Possibly.
On Tuesday, faculty will come together at 30 East Lake Street for HW Faculty Development 2014. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, our excellent CAST leadership, Megan Ritt and Andrew Cutcher, have arranged (like John and Gitte in the past) for boxed lunches. Only on Friday will we have to brown bag it. And, I’m not complaining. Food is expensive.
I’ve written a few posts this year, and I’ve mentioned how grateful I am for the sabbatical I have been on and the research I have been able to undertake and write about. I am grateful for past (and current) union leadership who have laid the groundwork for the concentrated (and paid) professional development sabbaticals provide. I would not have been able to eat without earning my salary while on sabbatical.
On Monday, August 25, I, like my colleagues, will greet new students, and in my ENG 101s, I will use the course I designed two years ago. The theme of the course is food, and in it my students begin by learning about food deserts in Chicago. No, not sweet desserts that follow a meal, but food deserts–the places in the city of Chicago that Mari Gallagher made noticeable with her research.
Ever hear of a food desert? A food deserts is a place where access to fresh produce and meats, like those found in a supermarket, are miles away. You might live in one. Our students live in food deserts. Our employees live in food deserts. Regardless of access to food, or even with access, some people can’t afford it.
In 2013, the Mayor’s office released data suggesting that 400,000 people in Chicago live in a food desert with the nearest grocery store 1/2 a mile away. And still, putting grocery stores closer to those who live in food deserts doesn’t put money in their pockets to buy food. I’m sure the content of this post comes as no surprise to most, especially educators in the CCC system.
If you’ve read your CCC e-mail recently, you may have noticed the announcement regarding stolen lunches on the 11th floor. In the e-mail, it states, “Please be aware that theft is an offense punishable by termination,” and while I agree with the e-mail, I found myself wondering, or better yet trying to understand, why someone would steal food from the break room?
If whomever is stealing food is hungry, then stealing the food isn’t the crime. If a member of our HW community is hungry, what can we do about it? What should we do about it? What can we do about it? We can be complacent, and we can enforce rules that deny the nuances of the situation, or we can see this for a problem that plagues our city and our college and strive to solve the problem. We can start in our own community at HW.
Before I drift too far into my dissertation research while on sabbatical this spring, I wanted to express some ideas that have taken root in my teaching philosophy regarding the equalizing power afforded by smart phones as computers.
If you had asked any student of mine between 2006-2010, you would have found out that I would give a “surprise quiz” if there was a cell phone that went off during class. I asked students to put them away and keep them away. And I meant it. NO CELL PHONES.
Then I thought about cell phones in a wildly different way; and my thoughts began to change while taking Classical Rhetoric in the spring 2012 semester then progressed further in the summer 2012 while taking a course in Advanced Issues in Composition. Both of these courses were taken with now emeritus faculty member Fred Kemp for my PhD program. He really got me to think about smart phones in a different, more productive way.
So, before I am beyond my ankles in dissertation research, I know there was some talk regarding the HW and CCC cell phone policy earlier in the semester, and I understand the resistance to letting students use them in the classroom. But, this is was Fred Kemp had to say about it.
He remarked that cell phones (i.e., smart phones) contribute to lowering the bar of inquiry. What he meant by this is that if you want to know something, you can Google it on your smart phone in an instant, depending on your connection speed. You don’t have to look it up in the library or elsewhere anymore. While our student may not be able to afford PCs or Macs, I think I can’t be the only one who has noticed that our students have smart phones with operating systems capable of working like computers in the palms of their very real hands.
And I am sure I am not the first to articulate ideas like this regarding cell phones as smart phones being an economic equalizer, allowing students who couldn’t normally afford computers to access the same advantages.
And I embrace them now (well, not now, but when I am teaching I do).
I tell students that they are allowed to use their cell phones in class to look up words or do anything class-related, like checking to make sure they have access to the technology we use in class: Blackboard, Drop Box, Google Docs, etc.
And, mostly, with only a few exceptions, my students do use their phones appropriately. Yes, I am sure they check Facebook every once in a while, and yes, I am sure that they send text messages, too. However, by and large (and the vast majority of the time), I think the basic psychology of not making it a forbidden activity prevails here, and they use their cell phones to access the Google Doc I am working on during class in a room with a black box on the 6th floor.
On the first day of class, I have students download a free Quick Reference (QR) code reader called inigma to scan the QR codes I have made for the syllabus and other first day of class papers they need. No more paper copies for them (unless they specifically request one, and then I request copies from Reprographics). The QR code allows students the ability to scan multiple codes with links to documents (and a history of the downloads) to access documents on the train or bus or wherever.
And they use their phones to make sure they have access to documents they need for class on Blackboard or Drop Box; and they use their cell phones to clarify information during class. I think they use their cell phones to learn; however, I had to show them how to do just that: use the Internet and apps to learn and lower what Kemp called “the bar on inquiry.”
[I once had a group in class (during class) take a group selfie to send to a missing classmate and post it on Instagram; the missing classmate showed up for the remainder of the class sessions devoted to the group work.]
I do not think technology should drive our pedagogical choices. I’m not going to use the latest bells and technological whistles if they don’t fit what I am trying to accomplish in my classroom (and I strongly urge you not to either), but if there is a pedagogical function that smartphones afford us as instructors for our students, then I think we should try it out, at the very least.
And here are a few ways you can (along with some other accessibility tips).
Post everything on Blackboard or wherever (even e-mail attachments) as Portable Document Formats (PDFs). This allows students who do not have Microsoft Office and programs to open the documents on their smartphones.
Use Google Docs, if there is writing involved. Not only does Google Docs (when a user is logged in to Google) provide a history of their writing contributions, if they share the documents with you, then you can see who contributed what.
And, oh yeah: you can download a Google Doc as a PDF or docx or rtf. Students do not have to own, once again, Microsoft Office. There’s not only docs in Google, but spreadsheet and power point, too (or use Cloud On—another free app).
There are issues with privacy and Google owning content or whatever, but there’s so much on there (on Google) that I don’t think it’s a real worry, although I don’t (and would never) store private information on a Google Doc. I’m sure others are more knowledgeable about this.
You don’t have to use these, obviously; however, letting our students know they have access to free technologies to meet some of the writing demands (and via their smartphones) is worthwhile, I think.
I’m sure this may be contentious. I know there are some of us who will never welcome cell phones—no matter how smart they are—in the classroom. It is just as harmful to endorse as it is to reject all technologies, I think. If the technology fits your pedagogical aims for your students, it might be worth a shot, right?
Somewhere, in the history of teaching, there had to have been someone who consistently lamented the change from chalk to chalkless chalk to dry erase markers, don’t you think?
And even if you disagree, we know the job market our students will be entering, regardless of the current unemployment rate—it’s damn competitive. By showing our students smart ways to use their smartphones, we may be helping to be more competitive in the job market, thinking of using technology in professional ways to suit their learning needs.
Okay, now I return into the research recesses of my sabbatical (and I’m thinking about evaluating information, now . . . ).
I have a recently chain-smoking friend who started ‘vaping’ (i.e., using electronic cigarettes) in November or so in an effort to save himself some money and ween himself off the smokes. I’ve been out with him twice–once in a coffee shop and once in a restaurant–when he’s pulled out the thing and taken a puff on it and put it away, saving himself the aggravation of a nic-fit and me the trouble of cutting our conversation short to either move outside for its continuation or head our separate ways. It worked well for both of us, and what came out of his mouth when he exhaled was basically like the stuff that comes out of a fog machine at concerts. No big deal. And no one at either place we were at, as far as I could tell, thought anything of it (probably because they didn’t notice).
We have “Tobacco Free Campuses,” and so any and all smoking is prohibited. But e-cigarettes don’t have tobacco, and so seem to fall outside the ban. Apparently the Mayor is opposed to them, so I expect a ban to come down the line post-haste (any bets on whether one shows up on Friday’s Board agenda?) but I don’t think it has happened yet.
So…what will you do if and when you have a student pull out an e-cig and take a pull? What should you do? Personally, I’m inclined to shrug and treat it the way I treat a lollipop, diet soda or bag of chips–as long as it isn’t a distraction I have no problem with it. As far as I know, it isn’t banned.