Sunday, September 7, 2008

First-Timer Farrah from Florida Fears The Fone. It's Got An OFF Button, Right?

After reading your blog last spring to see what I am in for, I was prepared for the worst with my new faculty position. So far, I am pleasantly surprised. My students are doing well and learning the material that I am trying to teach them. I was particularly concerned about my freshman programming class, but almost all of them submitted working programs for their first assignment. I had a little trouble getting the students in my junior class to use the software that I wanted them to use, but it turned out to be the result of an obscure bug in the program which I needed to work around. My special topics class is going great. The kids are doing problems on the board and participating in class discussions.

There is one cloud on the horizon, though. The students email me twenty-four hours a day. I finished my undergrad work nearly twenty years ago and went to work in industry. Until ten years ago, when I left the office that was it. No one could reach me. Ten years ago my employer at the time ran an ISDN line to my apartment so that I could continue working while I was at home, but my bosses did not send me emails on evening or weekends. They wanted to spend time with their families.

Students are different. They often do their homeworks late at night and expect me to answer their questions. If they email me past nine o'clock, they are out of luck because I am in bed. But they email me for all the time before that. They email me when I am eating dinner, or when I am relaxing with a beer, or when I am changing into my pajamas. My stupid cellphone downloads their email and beeps to tell me that they need help. What can I do to get a handle on this situation? My friend tells me that this is the digital convergence and that the only way to avoid it is to be a neoluddite.

Are there any other suggestions?