College Night at The Goodman: Disgraced

Sam the Intern writes with the following information:Disgrace Flier

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!

Click here for a PDF version of the flier if you’d like to hang one in your class or office.

Otherwise, help spread the word!

 

Solution for Campus Solutions?

Hello out there…

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.

Any ideas?

Special Event for Great Women’s Colleges

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.

Hot Take on the New Bookstore

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.

That’s what I’ve noticed anyway. Anyone else?

 

 

Food Tomfoolery on Eleven: Considerations for Consideration

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.

Using Smart Phones in Smart Ways: Cell Phones as Economic Equalizers and Stuff

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 . . . ).

Vaping in the (Bath)room?

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.

Thoughts?