Plugged-in Pedagogy

IT in the College Classroom
Journal #2
As a long-time user of IT, I consider myself an early adapter and a skilled user, at least compared to non-professional IT experts! My mother was a computer programmer in the 1960s, and we had a computer at home while I was still in high school, so I have been surrounded by, and comfortable with, IT for a long time. As such, I tend to be a member of the “if it’s IT-based, it must be better” school – if we can toss something on-line, and make it more widely accessible, then why not? I haven’t changed my mind about the immense benefits and awesome potential of IT; however, I have learned to be more aware of the pedagogy that informs my IT designs, and to consider whether or not the IT tools that I am comfortable with are the best ones for the job.

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Wish list: time machine…

…or that time-turner thing Hermione wears that allows her to be in three places at once.
I have finished grading!
*and there was much rejoicing*
I still have a handful of essays to comment on for a few students that are still interested in my feedback, but the marks are done, and the commenting can wait until after the holidays. The distance-learning interview was Tuesday morning, and went very well, but since I won’t hear anything about it until mid-January, I can put that item away for the moment, too.
I still have my own final papers to write for the MEd course, and I have officially been given a full load for the winter semester, which means revamping my course plans and course texts for three courses, but I’m feeling a lot more relaxed about this stuff since my grades are done.
The kids are home as of noon today, and Dr. T. is off from today until the 7th, so we have a good long family time ahead of us; we have two final shopping stops to make, and lots of wrapping to do, not to mention baking and cooking for the feast, but again, all good business*. We even survived the “Mum, I need cookies for tomorrow‘s class party” scenario.
So, perhaps not the peace that passes understanding, but at least we’re no longer in total panic mode. Happy holidays everyone!
*the shopping is only good business in the sense that we’re heading out as soon as the stores open this morning, which means even with ridiculous lines and crowds, we’ll be home by noon and the whole damn thing will be behind us for another year.

Insert witty title here

Classes are over, which means I’ve entered the pyjama phase of the semester, characterized by towering stacks of essays and test booklets, red-ink-stained fingers, neck cramps, and frequent disbelieving glances at the calendar (December 14th? Really?!?). The silver lining is that, as the name implies, the pyjama phase is also characterized by not having to leave the house at all, which manifests itself as not getting dressed until about five minutes before the kids get home from school.
The pyjama phase is also, I think, the part of my job that is overlooked when people (not you, obviously) make statements to the effect that teachers are spoiled, what with the great hours and ultra-long vacations. Yes, it’s true that I’m not teaching now – but does that mean I can now relax, play in the snow with my kids, get all the holiday baking done, and finish my Christmas shopping? Ha.
Before I can get to any of that, I have to correct:
~ approximately 100 final essays
~ 25 grammar tests
~ 150 journal entries
~ 100 self-evaluations
~ 10 web pages
~ several rewritten essays from earlier in the semester
~ other stuff I have no doubt conveniently forgotten
Oh, and I have to write two final project papers for the MEd course I’m taking. Also, I have an interview with a committee that wants to put together an on-line genre course.
In May, when we get to the pyjama phase of the winter semester, things are pretty relaxed despite the mountains of corrections, because at least that’s all there is. In December, however, there’s the whole holiday thing. I have no decorations up. No presents bought. No cookies baked. What I do have is somewhere to be just about every night – last night and the night before it was Robert’s Nutcracker performance, tonight it’s Aurora’s Cheeseball, tomorrow it’s Susana’s Swedish sing-a-long, Sunday it’s the Montreal Welsh Male Choir, for which I’m taking photos, etc., etc. I think the only night we’re not going somewhere is next Friday, when Terence, Irene, Dave and Kate are coming here. Aurora’s right – teachers need an extension for all the Christmas stuff.
Having said all that, let me say this, too: I love it. I love that I had a full teaching load this semester, with very few dropouts, which is why the piles are so towering; I love that the piles will take time because so many of my students asked for my feedback; I love that the MEd courses provide such opportunity for exploration and learning; I love that we are so active and have so many friends that we have invitations to juggle.
And the pyjamas. I love that, too.

Green and white and read all over

We awoke this morning to a veritable winter wonderland, made all the more wonderful by the announcement that all schools in our area were closed. Unfortunately, this edict did not extend to colleges, but betting on the improbability of any of my students braving the blizzard just for a few more pearls of wisdom, I canceled my classes. It’s week 15 – twist my arm.
The one apparent downside to this unexpectedly leisurely morning was that the paper was not on the porch – which, let’s be fair, was not a big surprise. To our delivery person’s credit, the paper was only about an hour late, which I’m sure was not the case for many subscribers this blustery morning.
So I poured myself a cup of coffee and went back to bed, not with the usual reams of newsprint, but with the sexy new laptop (really, any excuse to get it into bed ~ it’s just that sexy) and downloaded the digital edition of The Gazette. In the past I have avoided this because at heart I am a traditionalist – are you really ‘reading’ the paper if it’s not strewn across the bed, falling onto the floor, suffocating your sleeping spouse, and generally being awkward?
As it turns out, yes.
So as soon as the sales office opened, I called in, canceled my print subscription, and subscribed to the digital edition. Think of me the next time you’re admiring a tree – I saved it.
And in other news…
Not surprisingly, Heidi has gone into winter mode, which consists mainly of sleeping, punctuated by the occasional 4 a.m. yowl, and increasingly intermittent trips to the front/back door to see if winter’s over yet. New this year, however, are the two top choices for sleeping – under the bed and under the bathtub. How is this news, you wonder (particularly if you’re not a cat person)?
Heidi snores.
Now, granted, according to the experts, when your cat snores it’s a sign that the cat trusts you. Well, apparently Heidi thinks of us as the Swiss bankers of the cat world, because she snores louder than any of the humans on the premises.
Which can be disorienting, when the snores are coming from under the tub.
Even more so when you walk into your bedroom and find your sleeping spouse* is apparently a somno-ventriloquist.
*Dr. T really does do more than sleep, these two anecdotes notwithstanding.