Is it worth $69.64 to you?

USB flash drive

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In December I became the librarian at my school, replacing the woman who has held the position since the school opened in 1956.

I’m really enjoying the work. Perhaps it is needless to say, but I’ve made some immediate changes. I’ve started a long-term plan for bringing the library into the 21st Century, but in order to follow-through and turn those plans into reality I have to jump through some hoops.

Every middle and high school in the state of New York is required to employ a certified school librarian, now called a school media specialist. That is why I am a graduate student once again.

In order to get temporary certification so I can continue being a school media specialist in September I have to have 18 credits toward my Master of Library Science (school media division) degree by the end of August.

Do the math. Credits come in little packages, three at a time and I need six of those packages in the next six months. I’m taking three classes – nine credits – now and will take another three classes over the summer.

Taking three classes while working full time is taxing, but this essay is not about that marathon.

This is about one session of one of the classes. At least I hope it is only about one session.

The class is called The Technology of Information and it is a required introductory course. We had our second session earlier this week.

Students are not allowed into the computer lab in which we take the course until the professor arrives so we were all hanging out in the hallway outside chatting and checking our email and text messages on our smartphones or Blackberries. When the professor arrived we all filed into the lab, sat down and logged into the computers, launched the browser and navigated to the class website before the professor took over our computers remotely to broadcast his PowerPoint for the lesson that would teach us about…

…the parts of a computer.

Yes, friends, we spent the next 155 minutes learning that the keyboard we had just used is called a keyboard, that the mouse is called a mouse, that computers are filled with wires in circuits that connect every part of the computers with the central processing unit (CPU) through the mother board.

We learned that peripherals are called peripherals, expansion slots are used for expanding the capabilities of the computer, and that those little USB drives use a different kind of memory than the typical internal hard drive.

We got to look into an opened-up computer, circa 1999. We even got to hold an actual CPU, an actual hard drive and a circuit board in our not-quite-eager hands.

Die of an Intel 80486DX2 microprocessor (actua...

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Help me decide: was this a well-developed lesson that was differentiated for auditory, visual and tactile learners, or was it an insult to the notion of graduate-level education?

What would you pay for a lesson like that?

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16 Responses to Is it worth $69.64 to you?

  1. MissShuganah says:

    I know my husband wouldn’t. Then again he could probably teach the class. Before he graduated from MIT, he had to create a computer chip. And, even I, who consider myself a technodope, would find it boring. My eldest brother, who will be turning 64 in June knows all how computers work. My other brother, who just turned 60, barely understands email. This information may actually be useful and necessary for some. I am 53. I bet that there are some my age who would be stymied by this information and grateful for it. Perhaps, however, the professor ought to take a quick show of hands to see who needs to learn this very rudimentary stuff. I bet though that there are some who would still be too embarrassed to admit to their ignorance. So maybe a lesson like that helps those people save face.

    I cannot evaluate this based solely on my understanding or need. May not be worth it to you, but may be really essential for others. As far as how the rest of the quarter or semester progresses, would have to take a wait and see attitude. I hope that the professor is not always talking at this level.

    • Deven Black says:

      You husband could have taught it? Anyone in the class could have taught it. Everyone was rolling their eyes, shaking their head and bored. The professor started the class by saying, “You probably all already know what I’m going to teach you tonight….” and I had to hold my tongue so not to blurt out that it is impossible to teach something that the student already knows, one can merely repeat it. I should have said it, thereby distracting him into a discussion of education that would have been far more interesting, useful and illuminating than his lesson.

      • Richard Kavesh says:

        Those who lecture about differentiated instruction rarely if ever differentiate during their talks. “Do as we say, not as we do.”

  2. Sharon Eilts says:

    Complete insult. Prof needs to update. Can’t teach one year 25 times anymore. Shouldn’t do it no matter what.

    • Deven Black says:

      It is not really the professor’s fault, Sharon. This class is taught identically in five sections, each with a different professor. There is a student movement to convince the department to let students test out of the class. I wish that were in place already. I’d still pay the tuition just to not have to sit through the class.

      • Frederika says:

        The real problem is the out-of-date nature of the information. There may be a need for some to be shown the inside workings of the equipment. It helps to now a bit about the gadgets with whish you intimately work. However, let’s bring it into the eleventh year of the 21st century. Sad waste of resources, time, energy, patience.

        Others should definitely be allowed to test out.

  3. Will you be expected to fix computers? This class was an insult and completely not necessary! You have an IT department, you’re job is to teach students to use the them…it they don’t know what a keyboard or mouse is you have bigger issues!

  4. OMG, is all I can think to say right now. But beyond that I’m wondering if anyone spoke up and questioned what was happening? I think the class as you described it is an insult to 21st century intelligence. What are you going to do?

  5. macteech says:

    A good example of a “content lite” grad course and a waste of time and money. While there are still adults who don’t know the difference between a keyboard and a cutting board, it is unlikely that they would be enrolled in this type of program. If the school is hellbent on restating the obvious to the oblivious, they should have a test-out option to save the rest of their students from suffering through it.

  6. Is it worth $69.64 to you?

    I would be very frustrated if I had to take such a class. Yes, it is an insult and the instructor seems really out of touch. I think there are quite a few professors that are out of touch when they “train” teachers. It reminds me of my earlier years in college. The only think I seemed to walk away with from my education was how not to teach. Best of luck in your Masters Degree. Hopefully it will be more meaningful.

  7. [...] A new school librarian gets stuck in an unbelievably bad grad class. (Education on the Plate) [...]

  8. [...] A new school librarian gets stuck in an unbelievably bad grad class. (Education on the Plate) [...]

  9. alex says:

    I think you are missing what is going on here.

    Like many teachers and professors, yours is using an old lesson. I, too, have taken horribly outdated courses.

    This is a more obvious problem in technology courses than elsewhere, but it is is much wider problem than that.

  10. Jim Lerman says:

    My God Deven, what a nightmare. I think you should POLITELY speak up next week and have that discussion among the professor and the class. Everyone’s time these days is far too valuable to be spent on mickey mouse nonsense like that. If it continues, I’d suggest taking a delegation of students directly to the Dean and insisting on some changes right away. You could teach that class much better in a hot minute…making it up as you went along.

    • Deven Black says:

      Actually, I’ve been in communication with the dean and he’s been most receptive, to the point where he’s taking some of my comments to the professor directly without using my name, of course. We don’t have class again until next Wednesday so I’m interested in what, if anything, the professor says or if anything changes.

  11. Mac says:

    Here what I would have done, now this may seem a little extreme, but…

    I would have told the professor that I am now leaving, and I demand, on account of multiple prior experiences and YEARS of professional competence in this subject, to be rendered a passing grade and full credit. I would then tell him that if this was not done, I would be filing prompt lawsuits against him and the university, for slander and libel.

    Who knows? Maybe the rest of the class will follow, and it can be a class action.

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