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Friday, June 19, 2009

Plug and Play? In Whose Universe?

My Mayan Hieroglyph Class started last night at the local Junior College. When I first proposed the class the staff at the Community Education office suggested I wait until the Fall, because Summer enrollment is not good and I might be disappointed. The minimum was set at 12 and I got 24, so I am happy about that. One staff member told me many classes were cancelled.

The so-called 'plug and play' computer system was a joke. We just could not connect my laptop to the overhead projector and finally had to use the files on my thumb drive on their system. Unfortunately, the software they had was older than mine and did not support various elements of the newest Power Point and so about 25% of my presentation was either lost or non-functional. I have been working on this for 6 months, so you know how disappointed I was. I couldn't believe that a classroom in the Computer Science Building on campus would have old software and shoddy equipment. Welcome to the budget crunch. I looked longingly at the old-fashioned overhead projector I had requested, wishing I had brought those old transparencies I had made years ago for this class. They would have worked! Next time....

I think the class was successful since the students voted for no break and I had to tell them to leave 10 minutes after the class was to have ended. They were really into it. So glad. I have students who seem to be in their teens (they are probably 30 - but they look young to me LOL) and others maybe in their 80s. A real cross section.

I am still on crutches so I had to teach from a wheelchair. Who said they have made things accessible? It was damn hard to teach a class from a chair, because you can only reach up a foot or so on the blackboard and you have to sit at a strange angle since the chair is in the way. Heaven forbid you have too much pain to twist around like that! There are plenty of special seats and tables for the students, but.... what about disabled instructors?

I have learned a lot about what the disabled have to go through and from now on, I will never take my body for granted. When my two feet both hit the ground together again, I am going to celebrate. I have one week to go, but I'm not sure I'll be able to walk again right away. My foot looks like dead fish and it might take a little physical therapy to wake it up again.

Am I ranting? Sounds like it. But I was so upset by the end of class I couldn't relax for a couple hours afterwards. I am a bit of a perfectionist and control freak (no one who has ever seen the inside of my house would think that, but just ask my friend Steve.) I want everything to run smoothly when I'm teaching a class and if it doesn't, it feels like a nightmare. For me, last night was a nightmare. But the fact that they didn't want a break and had to be told to go home, says a lot about what the students thought.

Someone asked me if they could get a CD of the class. Well, that was my original plan. To make them all CDs as part of their materials package, but when I really got into doing the slide show, and saw that I was going to have 200+ slides, I decided not to do it. But, wouldn't you know it, like a drunk on a binge, my ego blurted out. I told them that had been the plan. NOW WHAT? Does that mean I have to do it? I could just give them an edited version. I could sell them one. Although the school said I couldn't, instructors in this program are always peddling their books and CDs. Today I can't think about it, but we will see.