Saturday, May 23, 2009

Might As Well Face It: I'm Addicted to Podcasting

I was supposed to launch my first online class at College 2 on the Tuesday after Memorial Day, but it was cancelled because no students registered. Every other online section filled, so I was incredibly disappointed. Even the day, I waited anxiously for the registration love all the while wondering if any of the following reasons kept me from filling up:

  1. The college changed my 8-week, June 8 start to a 5-week start with six days notice, so not only is my class not published in the catalog, it wasn't available for all that long.

  2. Students had to pay for the class as soon as they register, so I was left wondering if some would register at the last minute for financial reasons.

  3. The link in the School Online section for my class was developed by another instructor, so my teaching-style was not reflected in a place where students go to make decisions.

Nonetheless, I worked like a crazy woman to get the class ready on the off chance that it would be a go. I only needed five students, but it wasn't meant to be.

I'm pretty proud of the class. It's organized, intuitive, and since I had to re-create an 8-week curriculum into 5-weeks, I decided to use my own assignments rather than the ready-made course I was given.

During all the training I've received to get started at this college (College 1 isn't as advanced in it's Blackboard capabilities, so I'm learning a lot), I discovered Podcasting.

The first thing I did was download free software for recording and sound edting at Audacity. It was a quick and easy process.

Then I just hit record and started talking. For some of my podcasts (I recorded five) I wrote scripts so there wouldn't be long pauses as I reviewed my lessons. For others, like the ones where I simply tell the students what they're going to be working on in the current unit, I just talked.

They take an eternity to upload onto Blackboard, but since I record and upload on my laptop, I can move over to my desktop to continue to work.

Now I also blog at The Adventures of Mr. Busypants, and with all these newly acquired podcasting capabilities, I decided to have a little fun. When Mr. Busypants came home from school, I pulled up all my blogposts that had his artwork and interviewed him about it. Some of his artwork included books he wrote that I scanned in, so I had him narrate.

He totally got into it, and like his mother, he couldn't stop podcasting.

Now we both have our mark on the world of podcasting. Every time I play one of his, he grins from ear to ear and listens to himself intently.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Say It Forward - Meet Beth L. Gainer

Mom It Forward Award

Say It Forward, hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom, is a new weekly carnival at 5 Minutes for where bloggers feature their loyal commenters!

I can't say enough about my blogger buddy Beth Gainer. She's my #1 fan. She dutifully comments on both The Writer in Me and my main blog, The Adventures of Mr. Busypants. She's the one who got me blogging again, so it's totally appropriate (and an honor) to name her as my first loyal commenter.

She writes about medical advocacy at Calling the Shots. My all-time favorite post of hers is A Train Car Named Quagmire, which is a narrative about her advocating for herself on her cell phone while the entire train listened in. I cried, and considering the amount of crazy/meds I'm on, that's quite a feat.

She also edits a blog written by her cat, Hemi, called Hemi'sphere. It's hilarious--and I'm totally not a cat person, nor did I ever think I'd ever enjoy such a blog.

Beth is a breast cancer survivor and advocate, teaches writing and literature full time at a Chicago-area college, and is in the process of adopting a little girl from China.

Check her out!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I Quess I'll Have to Repeated the Course

Notes from students I dared to fail:

Miss Quess: "I was wonder was my grade that i receive was correct for last semester. This was the only class that its showing didnt pass to get my diploma."

Me: "Your grade is accurate."

Miss Quess: "Ok i quess i got to repeated the course in order to graduate."

Me: "Yes, you got to repeted the course in order to graduate. But I quess there are colleges out there that will give you a diploma in spite of your atrocious spelling."


Email with commentary in italics

Hello how are you doing? Not so great. I'm being cyber-stalked by students scrambling for a passing grade that they spent ten weeks not earning.

I have a really quick question regarding my last quarter and my grade. Make it quick. I'm feeling impatient.

I know that I hardly tunred in any work due to the fact that I was not able to log in for the first 4-5 weeks and that caused me to fall behind. This is true. You hardly TUNRED any work in, but your Internet problems are not mine, especially since you didn't communicate them to me earlier.

So my question to you is, would it be possible for me to turn in my missing assigments and my grade to change at this point. Are you kidding me? No, due to the fact that I don't want to dedicate any more of my time to you now that we're after the fact.

This class is the only class that I would need to graduate, and if possible I would like to be finished instead of attending another 10 weeks of school. If only you'd thought of that 10 weeks ago.

So if you can let me know if it is too late I would gladly appreciate it. Thank you. Enjoy summer school.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Margo, over at Writer Mom at Home, has tagged me in a meme. Here are the rules:

1. Mention who tagged you.

2. List six unimportant things that make you happy.

3. Tag six more blogs, then go and comment on their blogs. Let them know that they have been challenged, and invite them to play along.

My six favorite things . . .
  • Spending the day alone. Even if it's just to do laundry, clean the house, and catch up on work stuff while intermittenly surfing the Internet, of course, having the freedom to hang out and get things done uninterrupted is time I have always cherished--even before kids.
  • Vacation. I love to travel and have been blessed to be able to do so often. We take the kids to Disney every November, which I love. I've enjoyed a Cruise to Alaska, two trips to Hawaii (Oahu, The Big Island, and Maui), and my first major trip after getting married was to Paris and Madrid.
  • Walking in the rain or on the beach: I love hot rain falling down on me in the summer, especially while wearing shorts and a windbreaker and walking barefoot through the grass. Walking along the coast on a beach with barefeet and the wind blowing through my hair is pretty excellent as well.
  • A weekend at Lake Point Towers in Chicago. Hanging out with Scott and the kids across the street from Navy Pier is so much fun. We've planned this several times around the autism walk, borrowing a condo owned by my husband's boss. Gotta love that!
  • Sleeping in a freezing cold room under enormous blankets. Need I say more?
  • Going through my mom and grandmother's things. It reminds me of my childhood and the things I held close from those times.
There you have it. I am going to ask the following blogs to list their own favorite things.

Beth at Calling the Shots and Hemi'Sphere

Alicia at Welcome to my Planet

Jill at Scary Mommy

Alisha at Confessions of a Moody Mommy

Susan, author of the hilarious memoir Angry Conversations with God at Gray Matter

If I’ve tagged you, please come back and comment.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bookended by Bull--it

The spring semester just ended and I'm already starting summer courses. Friday ends one term and the next begins Monday. The result is in the same week I get the "I'm not happy with my grade" whining and the "I missed the mandatory orientation but please let me in your class" requests.

As a result, my terms are bookeneded with bull--it.

On the one hand, there's Miss GPA, who coincidentally missed the orientation but ended up staying in the class anyway. She's a prime example of why I try to stick with the college's policy of enrollment being contingent on attending an orientation. The students at this college simply can't handle it otherwise.

Here's an email I received today from one of my students from last term:

I saw that I got a B as my final grade. A great majority of my assignments are A's and A+'s, except for week 2 when I lost access to Blackboard. I really need an A to keep my honors for graduation and I am hoping you would consider my request to adjust my final grade to an A. I already spoke with my advisor, Ms. T regarding this issue and was told to ask you first. Thank you so much.
Huh? This is so insulting to me. I would have loved to have graduated with honors, but I didn't earn 'em so I didn't get 'em. I reflect fondly on the hardest grade I ever earned: a C in Economics, which I studied for day and night one semester when I was at ISU. I am convinced that the C the instructor gave me was a gift because I'd been in his office for help on a weekly basis. So someone please tell me why I could give a rip about a student's GPA. She missed a test for crying out loud.

And now for the excuse of all excuses as to why Speedy Student missed this term's orientation.

I was suppose to be in class on Saturday but on Thursday I had a problem with the local police in which they informed me that my license was suspended and if I was seen driving in the suburb I would be going to jail. On Friday I went to the DMV and found out I needed to pay a fine which I did and my license would be valid on Monday so out of fear I didn't come to the meeting. Is there some way I can meet with you to receive the information that I need to start the class.
I conclude with this: PRICELESS. What more can I say?