Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday morning things

*Suzette, it's the 1956 edition of Joy of Cooking. I suspect "Stuffed Brussels Sprouts" are in there and I just didn't spot the recipe (not being a fan of sprouts....)

* There's a potluck Sunday and I think I'm going to do that cheesy-grits-souffle thing for it, unless I decide to do sweet potatoes and apples. (Wrong season, but I think I can still find decent sweet potatoes).

* I think I caught a student using voice-to-text software in class today. I've softened my ban on laptops because I have a couple people with accommodations where laptops are helpful, and it's just kind of woeful to go "No, you can't have a laptop but Bob can. No, I can't tell you why he can have one and you can't" but I do ask people using them to sit in the back (so the screens are less distracting to others).

Anyway, near the end of class I hear a disembodied voice saying, "I'm sorry. I don't understand what you just said" and I stopped for a moment and boggled, and then stared in the direction of the voice (I have pretty good directional hearing). The student whose laptop it was ducked her head and said "sorry!" but really? I'm kind of gobsmacked. I mean, I get that it's a shortcut. And I get that I do sometimes get talking kind of fast but I try to repeat things and stop to write stuff on the board and all that kind of stuff (and I sometimes insert totally extraneous stories to slow things down - which would make auto-transcribed notes a weird jumble).

I don't know what to do. For fall, do I note I ban those in the syllabus? I'll be honest: it creeps me right out that someone might be transcribing my notes verbatim (Yes, I know: I allow recording of class if the student asks first and agrees to destroy the recording after the semester is over).

Three other things:

- I have somewhat non-standard pronunciations of things - I draw out some vowels a bit more, I truncate some of the "short u's", and I know I say "oo" for "ou" a lot of the time. So they're gonna get some weird spellings in there.

- For goodness sake, this was the start of the section on clays, where I was talking about clay mineralogy, which has a lot of very specific, very unusual terms, and if the thing is just transcribing them phonetically, they're gonna make NO sense at all.

- There are studies (! STUDIES !) that demonstrate retention is better when you hand-write notes, and I completely believe this because I know it is true of me - to the point where, if I am in a meeting where I need to pay attention and not let my mind wander, I will take notes even if I never use them later on, because the mere action of taking notes forces one not to "check out." (And honestly? I think that's part of the issue we see in some underperforming college students: they never got the habit of taking notes, some of them I've questioned have been actively hostile to the idea of having to do that). So letting a computer do your job....no.

(I also think of the old comic - might have been in the New Yorker, might have been in the Chronicle of Higher Ed - where one day in class, students show up with tape recorders. Then, later on, the students only come and leave the tape recorders while the professor lectures. Final panel: the professor has left his own tape recorder with the recording of his lecture while the students left THEIR tape recorders to record it. You want robots to take all of our jobs? Because that's how you get robots taking all of our jobs.)

I've also found of late asking questions or trying to start discussion in classes is met with a surprised silence....guys, I expect you to talk sometimes, okay?

* Another thought: I guess it's a good thing I don't curse in class if what I'm saying gets transcribed verbatim. (Some profs do. I don't, I don't really roll that way and I'm also sensitive that there are some students who might be bothered by it)

No, wait.....I did once hiss "dammit!" under my breath in class, but it was in a day where (a) my paying-attention-challenged student had just asked me the same question for the fourth time that day and (b) when I went to write something on the board, the chalk snapped in my hand and I dropped both pieces. And yes, A and B were related.

But that's a pretty mild swear as swears go.

* And yet another thought: if people are gonna do speech-to-text, now I want to redo some of my lecture comments to be kind of like that old "shaving cream" song - where it sounds like the person is setting up to say something really bad, but it turns out to be innocuous. Not that I'd probably have the presence of mind to do it right in class.

I just....wish people wouldn't. I do find the idea of everything I say being transcribed verbatim on a computer kind of creepy. Panopticon-like, almost. I'm not sure I can be forceful enough to say "Don't do that," though, other than to persuasively suggest when someone using that software comes in seeking extra credit that perhaps, just perhaps, their note-taking in class isn't quite what it could be.

* I would like to get a peek at an alternative universe in which I am a less meek and accommodating figure. In that alternative universe probably would have stopped class dead, swooped down on the back row of class, and declared "Are. You. Using. Speech. To. Text. Software?!?!" and then if the student admitted it, I would have said "DON'T DO THAT" and swept back up to the front of the class and then either immediately picked back up with lecture, or else gone off on a tear about how people are getting lazy because of technology....I could probably be quite terrifying if I were less meek. But I'm not sure how to go about that transformation. (I imagine it as being something like a lighter-haired, feminine version of Severus Snape, but I can't quite get there from here)

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