David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Week Four

September 27, 2012: Inside the HEAD -- Week Four (days eighteen and nineteen)

I am at a conference and out of my virtual office today.  Please leave a message at the contact link and I will respond to your blogging needs upon my return.  In the meantime, if you seek current humorous cynicism about higher education, I encourage you to contact The Cronk

For specific needs, you can always return to the following oldies but goldies:

Frustrated by leadership, check March 7, 2012.

Bewildered by Mission Statements, check September 15, 2011.

Flummoxed by Strategic Planning, check July 25, 2011.

Irritated by Departments of Education, check April 5, 2011.

Exasperated by Evaluations, check March 24, 2011.

Tormented by Tenure, check February 18, 2011.

September 26, 2011:  Inside the HEAD--Week four (day seventeen)

Today was Transfer Day at Southwestern Michigan College:  25 or so 4-year institutions spread around the gymnasium, marketing materials proudly displayed, small giveaways piled high, and each booth manned (or wo-manned) by a smiling, eager University representative.  Somehow it seemed like speed dating for student and potential Suitor.  So many scenarios must have the opportunity to go so wrong.

Scenario One:  Student: "Do you have pre-med?" 

University Representative: "No, but we have some wonderful allied health programs." 

Student: "Thank you very much.  I'm going to check out that handsome man in the suit across the room."

Scenario Two:  Student: "Do you have literature degrees?" 

University Representative: "Absolutely.  Look at these curriculum guides.  Are you interested in English literature, American literature or World literatures?" 

Student: "Uh, what's the difference?" 

University Representative: "Sigh.  Here take one of each.  I want to talk to that bright young woman behind you."

Scenario Three:  Student: "So, uh, how much do you cost?" 

University Representative: "Well, about $450 a credit hour." 

Student: "I'm not sure I understand what you mean." 

University Representative: "Well, if you take 10 credit hours, then it is $450 times 10 hours for a total of $4,500." 

Student: "O.k., slow down.  Let me see how you figured that out." 

University Representative: "Here, take this information sheet.  I want to talk to that bright young man behind you."

Scenario Four: Student: "So will my AA degree here at Southwestern transfer to your institution?" 

University Representative: "It depends." 

Student: "Thank you very much, I'm going to check out that table with the free candybars." 

University Representative: "Damn, I knew I should have stopped at Walgreen's and bought some candy."

Hopefully some of our students got a hook up and will be in a mutually committed relationship for the next two to four years.  And hopefully some university representatives went back and were able to keep some enrollment wolves at the door for a little longer.



September 25, 2012:  Inside the HEAD -- Week four (day sixteen)

Today I faced the kind of horror that few administrators survive to tell about.  I found myself in that infernal, eternal purgatory that is server down And it wasn't just down for a half hour, an hour, two hours.  It was down basically for 8 hours (maybe more, who knows what happened before 8:00 a.m.?).

If you think I exaggerate, let me beg to differ.  First, because of such a busy day, yesterday, I had the intention of printing out a few things from my "H" drive in anticipation of my 8:15 a.m. meeting.  No dice:  I couldn't even get to those documents.  O.k., then, I will copy a few handouts that will serve a major purpose later in the meeting.   Printer is on the network, too.  Scrap that plan.

Second, I need to email faculty some important updates.  Today is the day they need to start academic warnings; I have to announce a faculty resignation; I need to remind them of the first in the brown bag lunch series.  However, I have no email.  I could try to do it on my phone but the meeting beckons.

Third, where exactly am I to be after my meeting?  I have the brown bag lunch set up in some classroom on campus, but I don't remember the exact time or the place.  Can't get to my calendar.  Can't get to my email to see what I told faculty when I announced the brown bag series.  Fumbling with my I-phone-deficient thumbs, I can get to my calendar.  I never listed the room.  I could go to the Calendar of Events, which would have the room, but that too is accessible through the server.  So, I have to get into my email, into my sent mail, scroll back several pages on the phone until I find the right email sent to all faculty.  Hallelujah, I know where I have to go and when I have to be there.

Back from the lunch series, still nothing.  I have since learned the problem is isolated to my building.  Good news in that most of our classes don't take place in this building.  I know my purgatory could be outright hell for an instructor whose whole lesson plan may have to go in the trash.

Servers may go down, but life goes on.  A list of necessary emails is filling the top page of my yellow pad.  Someone wants me to go to a meeting tomorrow at 2:00.  Am I available?  A quick answer is lost as I go back through the phone to my email and my calendar.  Granted, I am going through wireless to do this, and not using something loaded directly onto my phone.  I have eschewed that kind of convenience because, well, frankly, there is a fine line between convenience and servitude.  Maybe today I regret that philosophy.

Eventually we are encouraged to go to a computer lab in another building.  It makes sense and with two hours left in the day, it seems the way to salvage the lost time.  Within an hour, we get the notice that our building is on the network again.  I almost don't go back.  I don't want to be heartbroken if I get there and the problem has returned.  But, it hadn't.  I had somehow survived almost a full day without my computer.  Who would have thought I could do that?  Honestly, I don't think I could do it for another day. 


September 24, 2012: Inside the HEAD -- Week Four (day fifteen)

A long day.  For the first time with the diary, I will slightly cheat and write poetry.  It's not like most of us in higher education have never endured a webinar.


What is the webinar?

Talking head avatar,

PowerPoint guide

Reduced in size,

Multiple windows on desktop,

Polite questions go in the chat box,

Information crammed,

Viewer be damned.


Dynamic seminar

Or static webinar:

An Integrated discussion,

Or technical glitch with cussing;

Non verbal cues used,

Vs. screenshot views.

Audience who actually came

Instead of sign-on names.


Leave me off the webinar list

Or pretend I'm there; I doubt I'll be missed.