Is Skype Right for School?

Please Welcome Guest Blogger – Nancy Valencia

Is email the perfect tool for communicating with your professor? What if your course is online, but you feel the need to see the teacher in-person? I like to ask questions so that I understand assignments more in depth so I can better accomplish what I’m being asked. Sometimes email just doesn’t work.

That being said, I don’t think it is right for students to misuse email to make up excuses for a missed class or assignment. We live in a generation where we don’t get to know each other and develop a relationship of humans between student and professor. I think e-mail makes it easier to hide behind the computer and not have to go to campus or schedule meetings.

That’s why I’d like to suggest Skype as a communication tool for students and professors. It’s a dream come true for all the parents who work full time and can’t drive back and forth to campus. I, personally, would rather speak to a professor than to send e-mails back and forth. The truth is that I need to pay the bills and sometimes I have to put my job first. So, when I do need to speak to a teacher, it would be so much easier to do it in-person – through Skype.

I’d like to see a day, in the near future, where professors drop e-mails and use Skype instead. It would be like an online meeting which would be more humane than e-mails. Bottom line, our professors are not dumb, and they know we use email strategically. They know it’s easier for us to give them an excuse through email. Be upfront and simply say I procrastinated and never finished my work. Imagine all the excuses they have heard, over 100 times but with different tweaks here and there.

But if we really want to learn and accommodate our busy schedules, Skype might do the trick. Let’s say that we get snowed in for a week and can’t have class. Skype would be a perfect way to teach class instead of all this reading that drives us all mad. I suppose that is a whole other blog to write.

 

Please let me know your opinion!

 

Are You Too Old For E-Textbooks?

I feel sorry for Millennials – the world has branded them the first high-tech generation yet they already seem too old to master digital learning. If you’ve ever screamed at your computer screen because your online test abruptly closed before you finished, you know what I’m talking about.

As young as Millennials are, their elementary school teacher was still a person, not an avatar and their textbooks were hard covered and at least 20 years old. Remember when teachers passed out a textbook and you couldn’t wait to see who had it before you? And who didn’t love the ridiculous names scrawled inside the cover – James Bond, Homeroom 007. Give it up, people. There’s nothing like a 12 year-old with a sense of humor.

Fast forward to college where tests, readings, assignments and course announcements are all online. And your teacher? A mere thumbnail picture on your screen. We all thought Millennials would love it, yet it seems to be backfiring.

Last semester, we tested an online component to a traditional lecture course where teachers could track student progress through a series of online exercises and tests. It bombed. Students were frustrated, grades dropped and my student reviews took a beating. For the record, it wasn’t my idea.

So what’s up Millennials? You tell me – how do you like to learn?

Is Your Teacher Burnt Out?

If I gave you a five page speech on any topic, asked you to memorize it and then had you repeat the speech regularly for 5, 10 or maybe even 30 straight years, your head might explode into a fiery ball followed by a simmering sizzle. This phenomenon is called teacher burn out and it’s caused by repetition. Remember when you were a kid and you repeated the same word over and over until it sounded unrecognizable. You see where I’m going with this. Teachers are in the business of presenting similar material consistently each semester.

Can’t teachers just change-up the lectures and format? Yes and no. Teachers are required to teach the core material as outlined in the syllabus. There’s not a lot of wiggle room there. (I’d be hard-pressed to get through a semester without reviewing basic marketing concepts with my students.) Teachers can, however, add new and updated information to supplement the basics. But even then, your teacher might, after years, become robotic in their delivery.

Here’s my question. How can you, as a student, help prevent the inevitable teacher meltdown? It’s easy. If you want to snap your teacher back to the present, bring your own material to class. This can be in the form of questions, experiences, internships, and good old-fashioned curiosity.

d2bd

See me in this picture? I’m with two students – Dan Clark and Khalid Michel-Simms. They’ve launched their own line of clothing under the brand Dare to Be Different (D2BD) and their hands-on experience added a new dimension to my Marketing 101 class last semester. My standard lectures soon turned into interesting conversations about their business. The whole class benefited from their shared entrepreneurial spirit. And I got a much needed slap in the face and a renewed sense of purpose. I love the topics I teach and these students’ genuine energy reminded me of that fact.

A big thanks to the Dare to Be Different business partners –Dan and Khalid. Please visit their site and check out their stuff. http://www.d2bdglobal.bigcartel.com

 

5 Things You Should Never Say to Your Business Professor

Here are 5 things students say that make me cringe.

1. I’m terrible at math.

2. I don’t understand why I have to come to class on time.

3. I never read, watch or listen to the news.

4. Why would I want to dress up for my presentation?

5. Office Space? It’s a movie? Never heard of it.

I don’t want to burst any bubbles, but if you plan on pursuing a career in business, it will be hard to avoid math, getting to work on time, the news, a professional dress code and at least one reference to a red stapler.

Comments?

 

 

 

Blog Mash-Up – Returning Students and Cosmetics

I polled students for new blog topics and two topics bubbled to the surface. A blog about students returning to college as adults and make-up tips for college students. I will now attempt to combine these wildly different topics in my first ever Blog Mash-Up.

This semester I returned to school. I, voluntarily, enrolled at my own school for a math class. Yup, you heard right. I chose to take a course that most students avoid at all costs – Algebra. Twice a week, for two hours my classmates and I attempt to solve for ‘X’. For the record, students have been trying to solve for “X” for years. Some things don’t change. So if you’re an older, returning student, don’t panic. Academic changes move slower than a pre-global warming iceberg. There’s a very good chance that the way you remember it, is the way it still is which means you are more prepared than you think. Even when classes require an online component, the basic model – study and then take a test, still exists.

What does change are styles and that’s been my demise.

We are now eight weeks into the class and students are starting to wonder about the older lady who hasn’t missed a class. From the first day, I realized I didn’t fit in. I’m wearing ‘go to work’ clothes, I don’t have piercings or tattoos, my hair has no gel, coloring or obscure angles, no wires dangling from my ears and worst of all – no make-up.

There’s a student that sits two rows over from me. She’s got mad make-up skills. Even if I had time in the morning, there’s no way I could pull-off her look. I’m wondering how anyone has time to do more than shower because I still haven’t solved for “X.”

Here’s my recommendation when it comes to college cosmetics. The majority of your day is spent sitting at a desk staring at someone’s back. You rarely have a chance to see your classmates’ faces. Therefore, I suggest investing your extra time decoding the mystery of “X.” Save the make-up for the weekend!

 

 

How to Cheat on a Test

I was prepared to write a lengthy blog on this topic, but I’d rather toss the question out to my readers. If I let students use the bathroom during a test is it really nature calling or an excuse to cheat? I’m suspicious, but I’d like to hear from you.

Here’s the scenario.

Last week a student asked to use the bathroom during a midterm. I said no. He offered to submit to a body search. In his defense, he turned his pockets out and raised his arms. I told him it would be weird, and potentially a YouTube disaster – Teacher frisks student during a test. Instead, he took his seat and crossed his legs for the remainder of the exam.

Then another student, this one with a runny nose, asked for permission to get a tissue. I honored his request to a sea of complaints. How come you let him go? I pointed out that the sniffling student had produced sufficient evidence in the form of mucus. Some students attempted this method but came up dry.

What would you have done?

 

 

 

 

Fancy Folder, Higher Grade?

I think I may have gone overboard this time. Apparently, I insisted that assignments and papers be submitted in a professional manner. In my book, that means a staple or a paper clip.

For this student, it meant a diamond stud. Maybe I should assign another paper to get the pair!

Here’s my question – do you think a fancy folder or a snazzy clip makes a difference in your grade?

Do You Love School?

ARE YOU ONE OF US? Are you in the club? Do you love school as much as we do?

 

That’s me, bottom row, far right, brown knee socks, Pilgrim collar. I’m so happy I’m practically screaming “I Love School.” In fact, that ridiculous neck device may have been designed to capture the drool as my mouth hung open in paralyzed glee.

 

How about the boy standing behind me in the double-breasted suit jacket? He’s one of us too! And the boys next to him? – not too shabby on the happy-meter.

 

Uh oh. I’m worried about the girl to my left. It’s like she’s smirking at me with her Mona Lisa smile. And those mod, hippy beads she’s wearing? I can’t compete with her serene, self-control. I suspect she doubts my enthusiasm. She probably thinks my joyous expression was sugar-induced or possibly clinical. Worse, I think she’s badmouthed me to the rest of the row. Look at their faces – I’ve frightened them off.

 

It’s not easy being a lover of school, but I’m here to tell you that we have strength in numbers. So stand-up and be heard. Are you one of us?

 

We accept TBT pictures as evidence for potential membership.

 

 

 

Author of A Sketch In Crime Mystery series

Drawing Conclusions 2015

Drawing Blood Feb 2016

 

How to Talk To a Teacher – Bridging the Generational Gap

See this picture. It’s me and my college roommates – thirty years ago. When I look at this photo, I’m immediately transported back to the early 1980’s. For me, it feels normal. For you, it must seem antiquated. That age difference makes it hard for us to connect.

And yet, thirty years ago, no one was connected. There was nothing to connect to. I’d never seen a cell phone nor used a computer. My papers were typed on an electric typewriter. My housemates and I had one phone, attached to the kitchen wall with a cord that stretched three feet to the refrigerator. No one I knew had an answering machine. If a guy you liked said he’d call, you sat by the phone and waited. If you went to a college party, you had no idea who was there until you arrived and no evidence of the night’s shenanigans were captured electronically. This photo was as bad as it got. Personal information remained personal and ‘sharing’ was a behavior learned by nursery school kids. If a better party was happening somewhere else on campus, you’d never know, so you didn’t care. The party was wherever you were at – as this picture proves.

Pants sat above your hips (I submit my stonewashed jeans as evidence), undergarments remained hidden, sneakers had not become collectibles, flip flops were strictly a beach item, tattoos were unthinkable unless you’d been to prison, music was played on a stereo system with giant speakers. Check out the size of the black box behind my head. If someone told me they had earbuds in 1980, I would have suggested they see an ENT.

Rap music hadn’t gone mainstream. The term ‘urban lifestyle’ hadn’t been invented. Hair was big, shoulder pads were enormous and MTV played the same three music videos.

I’d never heard the letters ATM until I got my first real job after college. If I wanted money, I had to wait on a physical line to cash a check. No one lived at home after college and parents were not considered your friends. First week freshman year, you waited by the payphone to speak to your parents. If your family’s phone was busy, you waited until the next week.

If I wanted to speak to a teacher, I had to show up in person and hope the line outside their door wasn’t too long. Teachers couldn’t fire off emails to a class or post announcements on an e-board. My questions were prepared ahead of time so I could get the most out of my five minutes of face-to-face time. If I had to leave a teacher a note, I proofread it and included a formal salutation and close. I never called a teacher on the phone, and obviously, I never sent a teacher an emoji.

In class, students listened carefully. PowerPoint slides were not made available before or after class – or ever. There was no such thing as electronic slides. Teachers talked and students wrote notes. Lots of notes. With little else but our notes to go on, textbooks were very important. We bought them, we read them, we carried them to the library to study, we high-lighted the important parts in neon green and then we prayed the bookstore would buy them back after a  semester of serious abuse. I hope you didn’t miss the guy sitting on the couch in the back of this picture. He brought his textbook to a party!

So – is it hard to talk to your teachers? Of course it is. Our college experiences are formed by our generational differences. This makes our interactions difficult. Lots of times, I just don’t get what students are trying to tell me because their approach is based on their fast-moving electronic world. In my college world, circa 1983-1987, parental contact and support was limited, information was hard to come by (no google), distractions were minimal (no cell phones or YouTube), and class time had value simply because we had little else available to earn a good grade.

Here’s my advice. If you need help from a teacher, show up to their office. Email conversations with a teacher are often doomed for failure. Speak slowly. Introduce yourself. Be prepared and thank them when you’re done. Resist the urge to check your phone. If you want to take notes on your computer, have it booted up before you walk into the office. Don’t talk about your family. In fact, don’t say anything personal. If your teacher is distracted by their own cellphone or email, then they’re probably not much older than you. In which case, you’ll get along just fine!

 

 

Should Attendance Count?

Attendance is a tough topic for me to discuss because I’m not sure I agree with the current educational theories related to showing up for class. Logically, attending class should result in better grades because if the teacher is teaching and you’re listening, then learning should occur. Hopefully, the time spent at the desk will rub off and result in correct answers on tests. Conversely, the less time spent in class might result in fewer correct answers. For that reason alone, students should be motivated to attend class. I’m on board with this type of thinking.

My real question has to do with earning additional points for attending. Should attendance, otherwise known as the act of being present, count as points towards your grade? Check your syllabus. Are you earning points for attendance? Or rather, are you losing points for not attending? What if you got a 100 on a test and then lost points for not attending? Would you be angry?

Before you answer, remember that attendance is not participation. Attendance is nothing more than arriving and leaving at a prescribed time. What you do for those minutes in between, is up to the student. You might be the type of student who attends and pays attention. But what about that kid next to you? He’s sleeping and earning an equal amount of points. It’s like those old diet commercials that tried to convince people they could lose weight while they slept.

I don’t particularly like giving or subtracting points for attendance but teachers seem to feel that those extra brownie points act as a motivator – they get students who wouldn’t ordinarily show up to attend, regardless of their level of consciousness.

So – I pose the question to students. Points or no points. Let me know.