December 19th, 2006

A very strange day

Two finals today, and the associated events have me walking around in a daze.. the fact that I got up at 7:30 this morning (really early, for me) isn't helping..

Last night, one of my lower-performing students in my intro class (someone who, by the way, I have evidence is cheating on homework) emailed me to say "I can't do this stuff and I never will be able to. I'm going to get a 10% on the test tomorrow".

I'm not entirely sure what I'm supposed to do at this point, 6 hours before the test starts, and to be honest, I'd be more inclined to be sympathetic if he hadn't cheated, so I just kept quiet.

He comes in to the test today all depressed and stuff, and I give a noncommittal response.

The funny thing is, he's probably not failing. Certainly he wasn't before the Incident, but even with a 0 on that homework, he's probably still going to get some kind of a D.

In the afternoon is the test in my advanced class, and halfway through the test I get an email titled "Sean, I've made a big mistake"


Turns out, it's from a student who hasn't shown up for class in two months, and hasn't been seen in the other CS class he was taking either. He flaked on his group project, missed both papers, all of the homeworks, and pretty much everything we've done all semester.

The gist of the email is that he stopped coming because he thought he'd be dropping out of school at the end of the semester (why you wouldn't try to finish out your classes, I don't know) and decided (today, apparently) that this was a mistake, and that he should stay in school, and can he make up the work he missed this semester?

My first thought is "you mean all of it? By Friday?"

After some conversations with the rest of the department (interestingly, he didn't email the other CS professor), and after doing some quick math (I'm not sure what he wants from me, but even if I pass him for some reason, if he fails the rest of his classes, he'll still be dismissed) I told him that I'm not sure there's anything I can do, and he should petition to not be dismissed.

Then, on the heels of that, I get a phone call from one of my advisees (who I don't have in any classes this semester), asking if I could see him in a couple of minutes.

I went through a lot of possible scenarios in my head, none of them good.

Turns out, he wants to take a leave of absence for a semester and take some classes near his home. And he wanted my opinion on some computing classes he could take there.

The class he points me to (and by the way, if you want to see a bad user interface, check out the University of Akron's online course scheduling system) is "Intro to Computer Information Systems"- the class where you learn what an email message is, and how to fill down in a spreadsheet. The kid I'm advising is a sophomore CS major, so I told him that this course may be a little below his level..

Now I'm home, and trying to get motivated to hit the huge pile of grading that I have to do, while paying in the $.50 Pokerstars tournament (because I'm all about the big money games), when I get an email from the Comptroller at our school.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what a "Comptroller" does, but she wanted to know how I was using the internet connection the school was paying for, and "what portion of my use was for business purposes?"

Now, I'm a paranoid person, and while this is probably just for some book-keeping thing, I starting thinking the subtext behind this was "Justify how you use this thing that we're paying for, and you'd better not use it for anything not work-related".

So, I wrote up some examples (and there are a bunch) of how the internet helps me do work at home, but I really couldn't answer the "what portion" question. I mean, it's not like the bits come in to my machine labeled "work" and "not work". Additionally, what metric is she using to define "portion". Bandwidth? Time spent doing stuff? Time spent actively using the connection (so does reading a page once it's loaded count?)

I decided to spare her the geek lecture, and gave an example of me writing an email while streaming music as a way of saying "how do you quantify this?". Also as a way of trying to get the reason for the question out of her (I am a game player, after all..)

So yeah, now to see if I can tackle the grading.
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