Tag Archives: college culture

Sidewalks, Student Traffic, and Data

Dr. Z
A few nights ago, I was chatting with Robert W and he pointed out that “At the University of Florida, they wanted to pave walkways. So they built the buildings but no walkways.  After a few years they paved the areas where the grass had been worn down by students walking. It made for some nice strolling walkways.”

He sent me over to Troy University’s website.  Apparently, Frank Lloyd Wright had taken the same approach in designing that campus.

It struck me that all too often colleges spend a fortune building the sidewalks and then doing everything they can to move traffic.  Instead of just taking the time to see where the students are, chairs, deans, VPIs, and presidents start cutting down trees and pouring concrete where they think students should be. (Class schedules come to mind.)

It strikes me that the current fascination with data follows this same pattern.  Administrators are looking for data where it should be rather than where the students have trodden down the grass.  Like the laser straight sidewalks leading from the parking garage to academic buildings, data collected this way seems artificial and forced, telling the collectors what they expected to see rather than what they could have seen.

One of the reasons The Suburban Prof and I started this site was to garner ideas from outside the armor clad, ivory silos of academia.  The irony didn’t escape me that it took someone from outside of the silo to remind me of a lesson academia had learned long ago.

(Sooner or later someone will spot the muddy path–hopefully sooner than later.  I have ruined two pairs of shoes with all of the recent rain.)

Comics in Education

Wandering through the internet, I came across Comics in Education.  I am captivated.

The site focuses on K-12, but the insights are foundational.  The diagrams of literature–Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy and Margaret Atwood’s writings–echo assignments from one of my old old profs with an Oxford pedigree.  The apologetics attached to using comics in a a classroom will hopefully fall away, freeing up time to focus on theory, implementation, and innovation. Right now, though, the defenses, justifications are essential.

I share the frustration with consumerism creeping into higher ed–seeing students as customers, equating academic success with passing, measuring learning with concrete measurable outcomes, and defining engagement as classroom involvement.

Education is not a product. Continue reading Comics in Education

AACC 2015 and San Antonio

The Suburban Prof and I with a couple of others are heading over to San Antonio next week to present, attend, and lurk at the American Association of Community Colleges.

This is an interesting conference for a faculty member to attend.  It is focused on community college presidents and chancellors; supposedly, the association has only invited faculty to present in recent years.   Our Twitter and Instagram accounts will mark noteworthy presentations and cool eateries. Continue reading AACC 2015 and San Antonio

Graphic Novels and American Literature

Literature and Graphic Novels

Dr. Z
American Lit class is going to have to select a graphic novel and track the literary ancestry of one of the characters.  Graphic novels are beginning to make appearances in college anthologies, texts.  But they are all of the literally safe ones–Persepolis, Maus.

The bias is there.  I have yet to see any including superheroes anthologized.  (Note that The Rolling Stones carefully culls the superheroes.)

With all of that said, any suggestions for my class?  (One group has already claimed Deadpool.) Continue reading Graphic Novels and American Literature

Coattailing: How Not to Spill the Gravy Train

The Suburban Prof and I were sitting in a collaborative space tackling a wide variety of jobs this morning (everything from lesson plans to filling coffee reservoirs) when I saw an email come through from our data collection dude.

The Suburban Prof had stepped in and wrapped up a nasty little job that I had been covertly ignoring.  Embarrassed, I took time from Monument Valley and organizing K-Cups to thank him for letting me coattail on that one.  We laughed and began discussing effective coattailing and how not to upset the gravy train.

Over the last few months, both of us have had our coattails muddied (to mix metaphors) by a wide range of passengers.  Some we didn’t notice.  Some we didn’t mind.  Some we could not mind or notice.  But some, some seemed an additional wait, an added cumbrance, and finally something almost insidious.

The question was a nice distraction.  But it is a professional discussion that is never really addressed.  What constitutes collaborative coattailing?

Dr. Z