Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sometimes you just Hate a Course

Evaluating the Course on Evaluating Technology

Where am I?
I suppose it's always going to happen when you take a program- there's going to be a course you really just wish you had never heard of, never had to take and never wanted to think about again. Such was the course I took in the fall of 2009. The course was supposed to be about Evaluating Technology but it really was just about Evaluations of Programs. Now a course on Evaluations of Programs would have been OK, because evaluation is evaluation after all and I think every teacher might need to know the things involved in evaluation, but the course was called Evaluating Technology so there was this "expectation thingy" that some of us had and the expectation thingy kind of hung over the whole course like a big old horrible cloud. And when things start that way they can easily go south rather quickly. So I found myself at the South Pole in this one rather quickly.

Let's get Ready to Rumble!

Here we are it's D-day, we are live in the web conferencing system and ready to go. There are my cohort who I've been in two classes with and a few new people too-cool! We have just had two intense exciting courses and we are pumped and ready for the next. We've been in this live conferencing system before so we know the drill- we listen but we participate through our microphones or through the chat window. Well, that's what we thought.

What's it all about Alfie?

So it begins, the usual preamble and we are off. But there are all these acronyms flying around and some of us are not from the US and we just don't have a clue what all this NCLB and PDQ stuff is, so well, we have to ask don't we? Well, we do and we did and yup we (mostly me and my pal Deb) got yelled at for asking questions!

OK so we can't speak up so what about the chat box, surely we can talk about this in the chat box? Hell, no! The chat box was not for chatting you see because it was distracting even if the chat was totally on topic. As one of the two Canadians in the course, I heard the teacher ask more than once "What the Canadians thought" about this or that. While some in the class thought that the two Canadians were being insulted by the stereotype, the Canadians in fact were rather happy about being called the Canadians and sticking up for their weirdo Canadian values.

Getting there regardless

In spite of the fact that all the stuff on evaluation in the course was not about technology, I decided that my major project would be one where I actually did evaluate technology so by hook or by crook I made the course about evaluating technology and I made it relevant and real for something that was actually going on at my college. A student's got to do what a student's got to do.

E-Gads--There'll be Learning

Overall there was a lot of valuable stuff in the course that was supposed to be about evaluating technology and I'm certain I learned a lot. However, the restraints imposed on the situation had a way of turning me back to the obnoxious smarty pants brat that had lived mostly quietly inside me when I was a kid. The smarty pants brat that had only occasionally slipped out way back when, suddenly was alive and now not at all afraid to stick up for whatever I believed in- a girl's got to have standards after all especially in a course about Evaluation.

 So while we were forced to live in this box handcuffed, we found a way to bond and break out -of course we did.... Cue the Back Channel! Oh the fun we had back there. As the live sessions in video conferencing went on, we -the naughty girls who weren't allowed to talk on topic in the chat box- took to email to continue on conversations that were more often than not humourous re-interpretations of the subject and the situation. Multi-tasking was raised to new heights as at any moment any one of the naughties could have been called on to answer whatever question popped into the instructors head. While maintaining the back channel and still listening to the lecture there was a point where we heard the instructor say, " Well what would that Karen Hamilton person think of that?" I had been raised to a new level of stature, victory at last! I was that Karen Hamilton-Person. I'd always wanted to have a two part last name. OK so I was being a bit disembodied since I was actually alive and in the virtual world of the web conference and I was being spoken about as If I weren't there at all...magical experience actually.

On further reflection though I learned a lot about the subject and I learned a lot about boxes, and the effect of boxes. I learned about the value of questions and what happens when they are squashed. And I learned that no matter what it is important to stick up for what you believe in and say what you think. I learned too that sometimes the most you get out of something is because of the real people who you live and learn with-the people who matter.

And I learned that no matter how old I get, I can still be that same subversive little kid who didn't want to colour between the lines and who really didn't want to sit in that desk row on row just like everybody else, because after all I am that Karen Hamilton-Person! ha ha ha
I dedicate this blog post to my compatriots in crime- Debbie and Carla who are the best Back Channel pals ever!


  1. I don't think I ever had more fun in any course...ever! You two Canadians were a hoot-lol!

  2. We also had quite the time in Major Tom's class too!