August 25, 2003

Bollixed technology

First day of classes. I’m not on campus, because I’m not teaching and I know parking would be a nightmare, even without half of the central parking lots being torn up or otherwise in chaos.

On Friday afternoon, the tech gurus at USF finally finished their upgrading of the on-line courseware package, Blackboard, to the new version. Of course, that left 3 days for faculty to upload information to their course, after two weeks of unavailability. That, and a few things just aren’t working right, like the program I use to create and upload quizzes to course pages. I’d be able to use a workaround if only the server weren’t slowed by everyone else’s trying to do the same thing...

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Posted in Teaching at 1:04 PM (Permalink) |

August 20, 2003

More prep

A few more on-line quizzes done, new sheets delivered to Pro-Copy for the undergraduate course pack, and some stuff taken care of for H-Education‘s book reviews.

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Posted in Teaching at 6:57 PM (Permalink) |

August 16, 2003

Getting ready for the semester, and a surprising invitation

I’ve been delinquent on this work journal, I know. We’ll see if I can be more disciplined this semester, but my 3.14159... loyal readers will understand that other things have priority. Right now, I’m working on my pre-semester to-do list. Syllabi are (mostly) redrafted. I’m slowly working on quizzes for the undergraduate class (more of that later in this entry). I’ve checked on the books I ordered. I’m mostly ready to go, at least for the first week. New wrinkles this term:


  • On-line quizzes for undergraduate class. In prior semesters, I’ve had weekly in-class, short-answer quizzes. These have been useful for keeping students motivated to read the material every week. They are also very time-consuming for me. So I’m trying on-line quizzes to serve the same function. Yes, they’re standardized, but they’re low-stakes, and an additional wrinkle may help me in assessing student reading.
  • Using an online journal system for the graduate class, albeit for comments on readings. My favorite academic toy right now is the Open Journal Systems open-source software, which allows a journal editor to use software to do the most tedious aspects of running a journal—assigning reviewers, sending out routine correspondence, routing the MS’s, and so forth. I’ve used it as back-end support for the H-Education book reviews, to manage the reviewing pool, and now I can think of another use: to organize a class peer-reviewing process. So each week, students will write comments on the upcoming week’s reading and then respond to two classmates’ comments on the prior week’s readings. The latter assignment will also allow students to provide comments after class discussion.
  • A style guide I’m still in the midst of writing. Inspired by reading Stephen Pinker and Joseph M. WIlliams this summer, I’m trying to finish the style tutorial I had slated for writing a few years ago (to match my plagiarism tutorial). It’s a lower priority, I know, and may not be finished until the end of the term.

And now for something a bit surprising...


Yesterday, I received the following e-mail from the secretary to my dean:

Dr. Dorn, I am pleased to inform you that you have been nominated for the position of Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development. If you accept this nomination, please send a one-page letter indicating your interest and a current copy of your vita to me no later than Friday, September 12.

Dr. Kennedy encourages your application.


The position is an interesting one, combining research compliance (making sure all faculty follow ethical and financial rules for grants and contracts), research encouragement (herding cats to write grant proposals), and personnel issues (tenure, promotion, grievances, recruitment, retention, etc.). I have no idea who nominated me for the position, but it’s a bit odd. I’m an associate professor, so my involvement in decisions on promotion to full professor would endanger their credibility (and possibly earn me some enemies on that score when it’s my own promotion at risk in a few years). I also have no administrative experience, and I’d instantly leap to a senior administrative post in the college, with personnel responsibilities (when I’ve never even been on my department’s annual review committee). And it would be a huge investment of time, not only in doing the job but in the steep learning curve. It would reduce my commitment to my own research and teaching, and it would be more time away from my family. And I’ve committed myself to be the treasurer of the local faculty union chapter through April.

Now, I love being an academic matchmaker (which would be one part of the job), and I have a number of ideas on that score. I’m reasonably competent at cutting or at least coping with red tape (the research compliance piece). And I can (or will be able to) write evaluations and be part of personnel decisions, if with considerable time spent in learning that part of the job. But it would be a diversion from my expected activities over the next few years, and I doubt that the college’s chairs would see me as qualified. Or, rather, I’m afraid to think about a pool of candidates that would make me the most qualified.

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Posted in Teaching at 8:47 AM (Permalink) |