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Two weeks to go

For teachers, August always feels like summer is over. Yes, the weather is still hot and the trees are still green, but most of us are finally buckling down to the work of lesson planning. A couple of weeks ago, we had a one-hour online meeting of the English Department to attempt to find the shape of the coming semester.
Nobody has ever had to run a university with the threat of Covid-19, so we will need to remain flexible and ready to try different strategies, especially if the infection rate goes up again and we must all stay home. We do have a few advantages, though: Ashland University never came back from Spring Break, so we have been doing distance education since March 16. The first few weeks were very rocky, but we're learning, and this fall should be a lot more graceful.The companies that provide our Internet services were overwhelmed when we shut down in March, but they have been working to upgrade their equipment, and we should have an easier time in September.I've be…
Recent posts

Internet Woes

Yesterday was a bad day on the Internet. My connection went down in the middle of the day and stayed that way for about an hour. It's been doing that, off and on, for some time now. You can imagine the result: no email (thank goodness!), no Facebook (a plus for my productivity), and no searching the Internet for cool items like that logo above. The real problem, though, was that some applications (like Microsoft Word) wouldn't open because they need to verify with headquarters that they are not pirate copies. (OK—I know that I could use a copy on a phone because it can get Internet even if the local WiFi is down. But have you ever tried editing a large piece of writing on a smartphone?)
Well that just threw a wrench into my machinery.We might have similar problems when school opens because EVERYONE on campus is trying to use the same electronic resources at the same time. (And some of you who live in rural areas with your parents never did have good Internet.) So here are my re…

Handling Textbooks

In a lot of ways, the college attitude toward textbooks is totally opposite to the attitude in high school. When you were in high school, the school district owned the books, and marking them was a very serious offense; in college, you own the book, and marking it is a good strategy for learning.When you were in high school, you did the reading assignments after the class session; in college, you are expected to do the reading before you show up.In high school, relatively few people actually read things because the teacher would tell you everything that the book contained. (That might have been due to the teacher's frustration with students who refused to read anything.) In college, nobody babies you like that. You have to do the reading. Housekeeping details for textbooks Each teacher/section has a unique book list. If you are taking an English course from Allen and your roommate is taking a the same course from someone else, you will have different books. (Note: When you buy the …

Leveling the Playing Field

When you think about it, most of us have disabilities of some sort or another. I've worn glasses since I was eight years old, and this summer was the time for my cataract surgery. (My pre-surgery view of the world looked like a Monet painting.) Like you, I'm no stranger to physical problems with a classroom.

Dealing with your issuesFirst of all, nobody is going to chase you down and demand that you find help. They probably don't know that you are having trouble reading or hearing, so you must take initiative to deal with your issues. What you can doFirst, you need to figure out what kind of problem you have and how severe it is. Did you have an IEP in high school? Have you always had trouble seeing things from a distance? Here are some places to begin: Get an eye exam. There's nothing shameful or nerdy about wearing glasses. (Harry Potter wore them, and he saved the world.)Get your hearing checked. A family doctor can recommend specialists who do this.Get the computer to …

Late Preparations

During this last month Look carefully at your class schedule. Mistakes happen, and you will find it much easier to correct them in the week or two before classes start. Do a campus walk-through. We are a small campus, but we are still big enough to be confusing. Some buildings are known by more than one name (a great example is the building our class is in: commonly called Dauch, it's also called COBE, which stands for the College of Business and Economics). Your Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule is different from your Tuesday-Thursday schedule. Walk both of them and actually find the rooms.Get an eye exam. Don't laugh. At least one student in every section I teach sits in the back, squinting and struggling to see the board. If you need glasses, get them. Wear them. They don't look weird.Go shopping. I assume you'll buy new clothes and such, but don't go overboard. What you wore in high school will probably work in college. Do be aware, though, that your class sched…

Paper Textbook or E-book?

I have to admit that my mind is not settled on this question. I own a Barnes & Noble nook and love to read murder mysteries on it, but my apartment is also filled with paper books. Ultimately, the choice is up to you. Here are some things to think about as you decide which format to buy. Paper hard copy Advantages You can use it when the power goes out. You don't need a great computer or Internet connection to read the book. (My home Internet connection, through CenturyLink, has days when it simply stops working—several times for half an hour or so. I could still be reading a paper book when that happens.)
You can underline things and write in the margins.1It's yours forever (unless you have rented it).A paper book just feels more like reading to some people.Disadvantages Paper books do cost more.If you tend to lose things or leave them lying around for people to steal, books are vulnerable.E-book Advantages CheaperYou can search the text electronically.The computer can read the …

Buying Textbooks

Yes, you do have to buy textbooks for college courses. The school doesn't hand them out.
The usual college pattern (which is very different from high school) is that you read the assignment before you get to class, and the teacher assumes you have that information inside your head by the time you arrive. In high school, the teacher told you what the book would say, then you were supposed to go home and read it, and finally, the teacher would tell you (again) what the book said. In college, none of that happens—often the lecture is material in addition to what was in the textbook. In our course, the written assignments usually are some sort of response to the reading you have been assigned.

You need to buy the books.
The campus bookstore I have told the campus bookstore what to order and how many of them, so the books should be waiting for you when you arrive. You don't need to go scampering around to online stores if you don't want to.

Once you get to the campus bookstore, …