Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Well, Some Things Never Change

That's right. It doesn't matter where you teach, you will always be faced with apathy. That will never change. I'm here at GCC this semester hoping that my students here will be, not only better prepared, but better motivated to learn. Students motivated to learn will be anxious to do their assignments and the course reading, right? Okay, that's a big assumption, but it is one I was making. I asked my class of 23 ENG101 students if they had done the assigned reading for today. I said, "Be honest. Who didn't read the article?" All but one hand went up. Well, I'm hoping I missed a few as I observed, but it seemed as if the collective class raised hands in unison. I was shocked! That's exactly what would have happened at SMC. No different!

The irony in this whole situation concerns what it was the students were assigned to read, an article on the lack of student accountability in college courses. Now that's funny, don't you think? The article, titled "The Dea(r)th of Student Responsibility," by Holly Hassel and Jessica Lourey discusses a survey that was administered to about 1100 univesity students to determine their attitudes toward learning and accountability. Hassel & Lourey (2005) reveal that "Apathy, absenteeism, and grade inflation emerged as contributing to the lack of student accountability."

Hmmm... who'da thunk it? This is a great article, not necessarily for students, but most definitely for faculty and administrators. The article suggests that changes need to be made by the colleges and not necessarily the students. At both of my community colleges most changes suggested are already pretty much standard practice: absenteeism consequences, smaller, engaged classes and explicit expectations. The article was good for students because they can see that there is a problem and that community colleges are already doing quite a bit to curb the problem. All that's left is up to them. Now the question is: How do I get them to read it?

Hassel, Holly and Jessica Lourey (2005). The Dea(r)th of student responsibility. College Teaching, 53 (1): 2-13.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Survey Says...

Okay, you probably can't read that graphic, but what it says is the big reason why I'm over here at GCC for the semester. I surveyed my two ENG102 classes on their computer usage, and 42 of the 48 students responded. Eighty-three percent responded that they have a PC at home to use and 7.1% have a Mac at home for use. That's 90%! All but two have a computer at home. That's a major difference from students at SMC. When I surveyed my students last year, less than half had computers at home to use, and even fewer than that had internet access.

Internet access among my GCC students is 83.3% with high speed internet and 11.9% with dialup access. Once again, only 2 didn't have internet access at home. That's amazing to me coming from SMC were our students don't have these resources. I'll share more on these survey results later.

Photos Finally

Okay, I'm back in business when it comes to photos. I was a bit of trouble with finding cameras and being able to download, but I've got it all figured out now. Earlier I talked about wearing my new GCC ID bad around campus, so here it is.

And this is the new computer I found in my office.

I'll continue to upload more photos from my "Switch Experience" on Flickr.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Got a PC Today, So Bye Bye Wireless

Today when I walked into my office there was a fancy looking PC case glowing on my desk. Nancy's old G4 was still there, but this pretty little thing was a welcomed addition. There was no monitor or keyboard or mouse attached, and at first I wasn't even sure it was a computer. I'll have to show you a picture so you can see what I'm talking about. It's sweet!

Anyway, Joseph returned while I was there to finish the job he had started while I was in class. He brought all the accessories and got me all hooked up. Now I have fast access to the internet from a plugged in line. I guess I have Netscape email as well, even though I tried to tell him that I probably wouldn't use it. I get Maricopa mail through my Yahoo! account. Who knows I might try the GCC way a few times. My peeps at SMC use Outlook for their email, and I am not the one to make a comparison. All I know is we used to use Netscape and switched.

I probably could have gotten away with not having a PC in my office, but the one thing I was so excited about having, I'm just about over already after only a week. That is the wireless access. I still think it's a great tool to have available, but if you have to rely on it for your only access, it doesn't cut the mustard. It's spotty and cuts in and out. Most surprisingly is it's an open network, so it's not secure. I have to remember to not do anything that is private. Oh wait, that's oh, only about 70% of what I do on the internet. I'm not really sure how all the security stuff works, so I'm going to have to explore this wireless/network thing further.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

GCC Parking Lot One Big Lake

This morning when I got to GCC for my 8:30am class, it was pouring rain and the parking lot was holding about an inch to two inches of water. There was not a dry spot to be found. I thought I would luck out and park up close in the employee parking area, but no such luck this morning. I had to park in the north forty. What a hike that was, and I was pretty soaked by the time I made it to class. This is one of the differences between GCC and SMC. No, not that I have to park out in the north forty, but that there is any designated faculty parking at all.

At SMC we don't have a faculty or employee parking area. All the lots are first come, first serve. We actually had a debate about this a few years back. SMC feels that the student is the customer and they should have full access to prime parking spots before any faculty or employee. By not designating areas, everyone has a fair shot at not having to tromp through a rain storm in 1 inch of water.

Monday, August 21, 2006

All Hands on Deck

The first day of the semester at GCC was a buzz. There are so many people walking around; it really has a big school feel. I managed to find all of my classes, which were not conveniently located close to one another. There were lots of faculty and employees out on campus wearing their GCC badges and giving out directions. I discreetly tucked my badge to the side and scooted across campus. I didn't want to let any one down by having to tell them I have no clue where such and such building is. Heck, I'm trying to find my own classes. It will be at least a week before I figure it all out and can give directions. By then everyone will already know there way around campus.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Not Much Going On

I had to stop by SMC today to do a few things and to help out a fellow colleague with some new technology. So I did the drive. There was not much going on when I got there. That is one major difference between the two colleges. GCC has a whole menu of activities and events scheduled for just about every minute of the week of accountability. I mean they have so much that much of it overlaps. I mean I was in a quandry today. Do I go to the new president's welcome or do I go to new employee mentors meeting? What I really wanted to do was just get my classes ready for Monday, but all the activities were tempting.

I think that is pretty much SMC's philosophy: week of accountability is for getting your courses ready because, like I said, there was not much going on there today. I couldn't find Carole to help her with the new technology in TC157, so I went up to visit Amy and Karen in the TLC. Not a sole was in the place. There was training scheduled, but I guess no one felt like they needed it. So I was able to chat with them for a bit and do a little work on my Blackboard courses before I left.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

They Have Everything!

Today I attended the Best Practices and Strategies for Student Learning & Success Poster Sessions at GCC. It was held in the High Tech II building and had an interesting mixtures of sessions. I ran into an old colleague from my high school teaching days at Deer Valley when I went to learn more about the student mentoring program they have at GCC. I also popped into a brief presentation on Student Services available for students and tips for how to help them. My last stop was a presentation on wikis by Karen Schwalm. I'd been waiting to meet her since she is one of the reasons I wanted to come over to GCC. I'd heard she was doing some amazing things with technology in her courses, and she teaches English as well.

We were able to chat for a while and Karen shared with me some of the things she's working on now at GCC, specifically the new school wiki. The most amazing thing I learned is that GCC has purchased enterprise software for many of the tools that I have to go out onto the free web to use outside of my school setting. These things include webpage/server space, wikis, blogs, and a chat program. They have everything, all installed on their own servers. It's amazing. I have none of that at SMC. None. Zip. Nada!

So I spend about $160 a year on server space for my many webpages and blogs, both personal and professional, $100 a year on two wikis, but chat is free! I used Adium and Meebo for chat, .Mac and SiteGround for hosting, all the available blog services: Blogger, Wordpad, and Typepad, and pbwiki and WetPaint for wikis. What fun it is.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Faculty Convocation at SMCC

Monday I was required to attend the All Employee Convocation at SMCC instead of at GCC. I didn't mind that I was asked to do this, but was a bit puzzled. So I showed up at the PAC and sat with the rest of my fellow faculty members and listened to the program. I guess we are a few years out from our 10 year accreditation visit, and there are things we need to be doing. We were given a timeline, but nothing specific was discussed. Our guest speaker was from a community college in Ohio.

We moved over to the student union for lunch, where Dr. Garrison had his improvisation band playing jazz for our enjoyment. And after lunch we told stories. Not sure what that was all about, but it was interesting to hear all the stories. I really need to find out what the point in all that was. I thought we were going to do something related to our accreditation visit. Hmmm... maybe we did. I'll never know because I'm not over there for a while.

I picked up my computer, which Delbert worked dilegently to repair for me, and headed home. What a day.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

New Employee Orientation

I was asked to attend the new employee orientation over at GCC on Friday. This of course is one day before our week of accountability starts, so I thought it was an odd request. But given the list of activities GCC has planned for week of accountability, I can see why they needed to add this day. I was a bit hesitant to attend because technically I'm not a new employee, just new to GCC. I decided I would go because, if anything, it would give me a chance to learn my way around the campus. I always seem to get turned around when I'm over there. It's huge compared to South (SMCC).

Nancy did not get an invitation to a new employee orientation over at SMCC, so she asked me to come down and show her around and get all set up with her office, phone, email, and computer. A one stop stop to the CTS where Debra and Heather handled all her needs right there on the spot was all she needed. I wasn't as lucky when it came to claiming my computer from SMC, but that's another story.

So on Friday, I attended this orientation at GCC, and right off I was asked to fill out a time card so I would be paid for my time. Awesome. I would have done it for free. We were served drinks and muffins for breakfast and were introduced to a few deans, a vice president academic affairs and the new president of the college. It was a very impressive group. The whole time I was thinking, "deans? I didn't think anyone had deans anymore." At South our deans were moved to vice presidents, and as far as I know we don't have any deans. And when we looked at GCC's organizational chart, I noticed they have department chairs and a bunch of division chairs. There were just too many people to keep track of. The chain of command must be a nightmare.

The day proved to be useful because most of the information was specific to the campus, including a tour of the important buildings and people we would need to work with. We got our ID badges, keys, and a folder full of information. We visited the library and High Tech buildings and met all the techy people inside, Training Center, Innovation Center, and the newly created Faculty Connection Center. What a wonderful place that will be.