I was observed in class yesterday. It wasn’t exactly a surprise visit, but mostly it was. We had arranged that I would be observed on Thursday. I had therefore just told the handful of students who showed up yesterday to help get the word out for everyone to show up on Thursday for the observation, when the dept. chair strolled in. 

This is not a problem. I wouldn’t do a better job for an observer than for my students. However, this was the day when I was supposed to teach literary analysis. I went ahead and told the students that I didn’t intend for them to write any literary analysis. First, it isn’t something you can get good at in 45 minutes. Second, it isn’t something they’ll all use in their future lives. So we were just doing a glance at it to make sure they understood what it was. I did a fun lesson on the subject with picture books, which Ill describe over at my education blog. Then we moved on to plan their upcoming research papers. So it might not have been the most cohesive and observable lesson I’ve ever done.

However, I had a good report from the chair. She mentioned fulltime. She also told me I should take advantage of the technology in the room.

The word “technology” is, in education, a synonym for “computer.” And I have a computer in the room. It is attached to a projector.

I had to admit that I didn’t know how to use the projector. I explained that I always relied on tech guys to do that part, which is true, even though it is always the tech guys who initiate the use of these projectors, and I just ignore them and sing or speak or whatever task brought me into the room.

You know how I feel about Power Point.

She assured me that it was simple, and then went through the usual sort of thing that follows that claim: pushing buttons that don’t do what you expect and climbing up on the table to turn on the projector and then explaining what was supposed to have happened and pushing some more buttons and saying, “Oh! There! It’s doing it!” with an air of surprise.

I’m a computer guy of a sort, and I work with highly skilled tech people in a country full of hi-tech machinery and a high level of comfort with electronic stuff. Nonetheless, I don’t think that I have ever seen the audiovisual component of any public event accomplished without this little ritual, which takes from 25 to 30% of the available time.

I may be exaggerating. This only happens in church about 15% of the time. The rest of the AV problems — there is nearly always something screwed up — are obvious human error.

I am not exaggerating about climbing up on a table. This is apparently how the projector is turned on at our college. I took the dept. chair’s hand to help her up and down. We did not know that there was a class outside waiting to get in, possibly wondering what the heck we were doing holding hands and climbing on tables.

Anyway, I’ve been told to  use Power Point. We can post them on our Connection, she says, for later reference by our students. #1 son said that if I do that, then my students will just look at the Power Point and not bother to attend class at all.

In any case, I have to add getting to know the Connection and improving my Power Point skills to my to-do list.