Friday, December 19, 2014

Random Thoughts at the End of the Semester

  • Last night was the last Colbert Report.  I think we liberal arts folks are going to miss the obvious, beautiful examples of satire Colbert provided.  I hope his next effort is as smart and fun.  And I hope someone else comes in the slot with great stuff.
  • Death by a thousand paper cuts:  why is it when I think I've finished a stack, someone turns in late stuff.  Or gets sick and can't take the final.  Or has a car problem and can't make it to campus.  And why is it that the person who turns in stuff late says something along the lines of, "I'm turning this in late."  And nothing along the lines of, "I emailed you about my difficulty, and want to thank you for giving me permission to turn the assignment in late."
I'm sympathetic to folks with illness or car problems, but it doesn't mean I like having to write a make up exam.  I'm less sympathetic to folks who just turn in stuff late.
  • I've now graded the three biggest, hardest stacks of work.  I have (or will have at the end of the day) three more stacks, none of which requires the feedback the first three stacks did.  Feedback takes a long time.  Assigning a grade takes less time. 
  • Because it's easier than grading, I'm thinking about stuff for a class next semester.  I'm thinking of doing an assignment where students would read a critical essay, and then read all the work the essay cited.  I'd have to do a really good job finding good essays, so that they'd have stuff available to them (so, nothing that requires a reading knowledge of Latin, and nothing that requires a trip to the British Library or public records offices).
  • My last final is today, starting at 3pm.   Someone has to get the time, I suppose.  Ugh.
  • One of my friends at a different school had her students turn in their work on the school system (you know, the system for having course stuff), responded to the work on the system, and entered grades on the system.  The system lost every single thing.  EVERY SINGLE THING.  It is as if she did none of that work.  (I can't swear that she didn't miss a step of hitting submit somewhere, or something, but I can honestly say that no one has ever missed that step in a paper grade book.)


  1. Omg, I will so miss the Colbert Report. I didn't get to watch the last episode yet, because I don't have cable so only watch online. I will watch it when I get a chance. I did hear the Fresh Air retrospective on Colbert's career, though. That was great!

    If I did all that work and lost it on the LMS, I would be so screwed. I have pretty much taken to only using the LMS for a gradebook. It's problematic, definitely, because in the case of a hack or a a system failure, I would have nothing. Ugh!!!

  2. Our LMS lets you download the gradebook as an excel (or similar) spreadsheet. I can't say that I do that as often as I should, however. I do think a school that provides an LMS should also provide regular backups, so you can't permanently lose more than 24 hours or so of work. Still, 24 hours of work can be a lot of work at this time of year (and it would probably take at least 48 hours to reproduce, because that's how that sort of thing works). All of the above is one of the reasons why I still grade major assignments in files living on my own computer (with a cloud backup running in the background) rather than directly on the LMS. But I could still end up with a lot of little stuff to re-grade if the LMS lost my gradebook.

    And yes, late papers unaccompanied by an apology are annoying. Also, this semester, some of the ones I received under those circumstances were downright weird (not plagiarized -- I checked -- just weird).