Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I teach a "self-paced" course over the internet at a medium state U as an adjunct to supplement my measly full time income. I sent an email out last week to all students giving them some basic information about the course (since the office of distance learning no longer gives them ANY information). My new favoritest snowflake responded:
This e-mail didn't help. I've been trying to figure out your course by looking on courseweb. The syllabus that I found is for summer. It was very difficult to find that syllabus, and it doesn't list the name of the book needed for class; it just says that it is broken into Modules. You will be receiving more e-mails until we meet, and no one will have anything done when we do meet on Sept 13th, because no one can find any information to get started on this course! If we have to do the work ourselves, we need some kind of information to help us get started.
Note the informality of the greeting and closing. Note the frustration the poor dear felt when he saw "Syllabus Summer" as a link, although the information in the document was for the fall term. Note the mounting anxiety at the book not being listed (although it was...right under the section marked "Required Text"). Take pity on the poor dear who found it "very difficult to find that syllabus" although it was under the link marked "Syllabus," oddly enough (I know...I'm such a renegade in naming my course links!)
I responded to said student that the syllabus is under the link marked Syllabus, the name of the syllabus had been changed to "Syllabus Fall," although the content remained the same, with one exception. I added an email policy in this student's honor, a small document that notes appropriate behavior and tone for email communication with professors and administrators at the university. I asked said student to review the policy. Here's the response:
I'm not interested in appropriate! I have never been nor will I ever be politically correct! If I have a complaint, I can't go to my faculty adviser(s). Everything in Psyche is controlled by the psyche department! I wish I could only take classes inside the Information Sciences (IS) school, because they understand IS students better. Now that the syllabus has been corrected and made a little easier to read; I can go and order the book. The word "appropriate will never be in my vocabulary!
I got to thinking. I, too, wish this student could only take classes inside the Information Sciences school. They might better understand that these students can't navigate a website made for dummies. And I also wish I could also teach only psych (not psyche) majors. What a life that could be! And what I wish most of all is that I didn't have to deal with students such as this one in this class. When you break down my costs for teaching the class (internet access, substantial travel and parking fees) and subtract them from what I make teaching this class, and divide the result across the 25 students who are taking the course, I am making $3.56/hour dealing with this student. Yeah...I wish this one would disappear!