Monday, April 4, 2011

Connecting and Disconnecting

First, the good: As you read in Magda's entry, my students connected with her students in a peer review session. Besides the obvious benefits for composition (better feedback, more specific comments and criticism) my students also got what I want this experiment to be for them, which is a glimpse of another theme. Suddenly we were discussing gender and gender markers, which was both a nice change of pace and gave students an idea of the wide variety of intellectual pursuits college offers--all thanks to Magda's assignment and her students' drafts.

Now, the bad: I am grading blogs on google docs one after the other Saturday, when my connection stops. Time Warner did not fix it until the next day, and I got a nice break, but I was also thinking what would have happened if I had been a student and that was the time I had allotted to do this task, i.e. post my blog. After all, my computer broke or my internet is down have become the modern-day equivalent of my dog ate my homework. (Has anyone even heard someone use that excuse ever?) And if I were to account for the possibility, how would I safeguard that it then does not become a standard excuse? When students sign up for online classes they do sign kind of a buyer beware clause that technical difficulties cannot be used as a reason for not turning in work, but what we are doing is classroom+, not purely online. I would be interested in how others deal with such issues.


  1. I tell my students up front that "Things happen, online and off, so you should always have a 'plan B' either way. If you wait to the last minute to print, the Library will be full, you will be out of ink at home, and all your paper will be pink. If you wait until the last minute to post, the internet will be down due to sunspots and all your local Starbucks will be closed. I do not care. Get it done on time." Then, I cut slack on occasion to sound like a good guy.

  2. Well, since we are doing blogs, it all amounts to being flexible, no?

    I mean, if a student is missing a blog once because her dog ate her computer, that sounds reasonable. If a student is missing several blogs every time an evaluation comes around, well, she either has really bad luck (not impossible) or she's playing me.

    On the other hand, it's not like you or her cannot go to Starbucks or other wi-fi hotspot and get on with work (school?).

  3. Good points. I'd just like to note that MY dog once ate 3 students' papers in one sitting....I am dousing the newest batches in gravy in hopes of a repeat performance.... So the excuse lives.