What Up?

It’s Thursday afternoon, which means that week 4 is drawing to a close, and we are (nearly) halfway to the halfway point of the semester.

Anybody going to see Morris Dees, co founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, out at Elmhurst College? Or maybe going to Garfield Park Conservatory for Sweet Saturday (I went last week–it was great, especially for kids; lots of activities)? Or maybe getting in the mood for Valentine’s Day with a trip to the theater?

What’s going on out there?

What Up?

So, other than shoveling and hanging out in your snow fort, what are you up to this weekend? There’s the Super Bowl of course (anybody planning to join the cheddar heads at Will’s?), but there’s also the Spring Flower Show and first “Sweet Saturday” at Garfield Park Conservatory (one of my favorite places in the city), and free music at the Chicago Cultural Center tomorrow (one of the shows in the “Music Without Borders” Concert Series. (Actually, they have music all the time there: Classical Mondays, Jazz/Blues Tuesdays, Fancy Stuff on Wednesdays, and open Jazz Jams on Wednesday nights, along with World Music on Fridays, and more. All FREE!)

Or maybe you’re going to stay in and make your plans for next week’s 51st annual U of C Folk Festival?

What’s your story? What’s happening out there?


Think, Know, Prove–Key Post Options

Think, Know, Prove is a regular Saturday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

Apologies in advance for the Meta nature of this post. TKP is usually reserved for consideration of mysterious or difficult processes and the brainstorming of solutions with an exception now and then. Today’s post is an exception.

Yesterday, I fielded a request/suggestion from Jen Armendarez, who had been discussing the Lounge with a few other ne’er-do-wells at The Roof on Thursday evening (actually, I’m assuming it was on The Roof–she just said at The Wit, so it could have been in their restaurant or in the lobby or something, but I’m going to go with The Roof, because it’s where I would drink were I drinking at The Wit. And I would be tempted, the entire time I was up there, to throw ice cubes at the Social Science offices. But I digress.).

Their idea, as I understood it, was to have some sort of left/right division so that posts about the Chancellor and Reinvention–which would be fewer, more substantive, and so likely to require more care and attention–would not get run off the page by the enjoyable, but less important, regular features and postings.

This is a proposal that has been made before, albeit in a slightly different form, and is not without merit (not to mention challenges). Thus far, we’ve relied on one of five means of keeping posts in the public eye. 1) There is the “Top Posts” list, which shows links to the most read posts of the previous three days; 2) We can make posts “sticky” which keeps them at the top of the page (as with the CAST post above–we also did this with the “Lemons from Lemonade” and “DWFDW Poll” posts; 3) I sometimes post a reminder to go back to another post (as here) with a link to the original; 4) I have, on occasion but not for awhile, re-posted something to bump it back up to the top if I thought it didn’t get the attention that it might otherwise deserve, as with this one; 5) More than anything, though, I’ve relied on reader ingenuity and the archives with the idea being that none of them are ever really gone until they get trashed (which hasn’t happened to anything that’s been posted yet). Maybe it’s time to rethink those options.

So, there are basically four possibilities as far as I can tell (from my perusal of how other blogs handle this issue and in consideration of my very limited technological prowess) unless someone can come up with more:

A) We could find a new “theme” that has two or three columns (along the lines of the HWC Home Web site) and post “Big Topics” in one column and the rest of the stuff in the other(s);

B) I could put a new page along the top titled “Chancellor File” or “Reinvention” and post links to the posts related to the topic up there, so if you wanted to track the Chancellor/Reinvention-related information, you’d just visit that page and you’d have links to what you want, allowing you to read or ignore the rest as you’d like;

C) I could add a menu item on the left side of the home page for particular Category tags (such as “Chancellor” or “Reinvention”) which would allow someone to go directly to all of the posts made in that category in a single click from the home page;

D) We could leave it as is, and tell those whiskey-swillers to pound sand and scroll down (at least until they buy us enough Rooftop cocktails to change our mind, assuming that happens before we all get barred for throwing ice at the Social Science offices).

What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?

Registration highs and lows

So here I am, rather, here we are, once again, registering students at the college. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with several colleagues and the consensus is that we can be more efficient with this registration process or, we can be doing better things with our time, such as working on syllabi.

On the one hand, I like and appreciate the opportunity to be in one room with all of you.  Sure beats DWFDW.

On the other hand, I am concerned that while we enjoy the company of each other (a priceless experience, if you ask me) we may be doing ourselves and our students a disservice. I feel that we’ve all been reduced to being gears of an antiquated or archaic system. I’m talking about both students and teachers.

I know this is old news so, here’s my question:
What can we do and what should we do to transform this registration experience?

One idea that Chris (Sabino) and I brainstormed was to take faculty out of room 404 and just have students register online. (Wasn’t this the reason for going to PeopleSoft? To automate the enrollment system? And yet we are still enrolling as if we are using SPAS?)

Faculty could then be in their offices working on syllabi and meeting with students that  have specific questions about our respective programs. Yes, we’d all have access to quick enroll.  This would be a better use of our time (teachers and students).

I believe students keep depending on faculty because they know come rain, shine, sleet, or snow we will be at the college to look-up courses on their behalf. Why are we reduced to typists? I’ve simply been a query specialist or a U-Pass magician these past few days and it must change.

How shall we institute change so that next year at this time we are truly serving our community? I’m left wondering.