The Commercial Message

At the start of term, I get a lot of requests from people who want to make an announcement in my class. Usually, they want to talk to my intro psych class, probably because it’s in a huge room. Some of the information is important, like raising awareness of UofA resources available to students, like the Peer Support Centre or student groups like the Undergraduate Psychology Association (I belonged to the UPA, way back when I was an undergraduate). Although this is useful information to first-year students, I’m thinking that a lot of this is redundant with the orientation given by the Centre for Student Development. Plus, not everyone in intro psych is a first-year student.

But then there are others who want to make a presentation about something not at all related to the university, per se. They want to encourage students to Travel Abroad! Get Volunteer Experience! Run Your Own Business! Is this appropriate in class?

I let someone talk the other day; they had arranged for this time weeks in advance. The thing was, the presentation went on and on and on. Eventually, when the person finished, they had burned through five minutes of class time, and left me with a class that was totally not wanting to listen to anything for quite a few minutes. Thanks a lot.

Here are my rules for people who want to present something--anything--to my classes.
  • Don’t start talking to my class without asking my permission in advance. It’s like you’ve taken over my room. Please don’t. Even if I’m not in the room yet. If I get there late and there’s not enough time for you to talk, sorry.
  • I’m not going to introduce you, unless you are a special guest. Special guests may be invited, or have something important to say. Introductions from me may seem to students like an endorsement.
  • Show up early, if you need to ask me for permission. I may say no, depending on what I have planned for that class, or what you’re selling. Best to email me in advance and ask me for permission. I’ll send you a link to this blog posting. (Whoa--recursiveness!)
  • Do not take up any of my class time. I need to log in to the computer and get my lectures set up. You can talk to my class while I’m doing that. If you have lots of information to give, you better talk fast--especially if you’re following someone else who’s giving a long presentation.
  • I’m not going to give you a microphone. You need to talk loud to get the attention of the class and to be heard over the general noise. I need to clip the mic on and get the audio system set up for myself, so you're on your own.
  • You don’t get to use PowerPoint or the projector. If you do, then I can’t log in or set up my lectures, and I’ll have to waste class time doing that after you’re finished.
  • You can email me web links, posters, or contact information, which I may (or may not) post to the class website.
  • Only one presentation per day.
  • First come, first served.
What do you, as students, think of these rules? Do you want to hear commercial messages? Are you already coping with information overload? Do you pay attention to the messages in class?

Why aren’t you studying?


Anonymous said...

I got tired of the same messages over and over. I really just wanted to start class. and the thing was, was that it was the same messages over and over by different people it got to a point where i just didnt care

Karsten A. Loepelmann said...

@Anonymous: I think some messages are useful (like for the Peer Support Centre), but the ones for jobs I tend to dislike. They can just put up posters, and those who are interested in that call follow up.

Advertisers generally don't care if 99% of people tune out as long as somebody buys in. But I'm concerned about those who just don't want any more commercials.

Thanks for your feedback.

-Auri said...

Messages for the university are the only ones I listen to. As soon as I hear, WORK ABROAD, or MAKE MONEY THIS SUMMER; I tune out.

But resource information I remember because someday it could be important.

Anastasia said...

I think the rules are fair. But yea, I don't generally pay attention in class.

Jeremy said...

Give people an inch and they'll take a mile. I'm a third year student and am already uninterested in the messages unless they are related to the Dept. of psychology. I am in agreement with the rules. In fact I would add a few more. 1. Only one person or group can present per day. (Attention spans and a lack of interest as well as potential to interrupt class time is just too much) 2. They have to begin at least 5 mins before class starts. 3. Unless the group, presenter, or presentation is directly affiliated with the U of A they can not present anything at any time.

Karsten A. Loepelmann said...

@Jeremy: 1) I agree with this. 2) At this point, the classroom is usually around half-full--but we can't wait for everyone. 3) There is probably a very small minority interested in these kinds of messages, but I think that could be said of any kind of message...

Peggy said...

Hate the travel abroad messages so much. I also really hate when the student counsel elections are on, and the candidates just run in and out of classes. I must have heard each of them at least three times, if not more. Your rules are definitely fair, and should be adopted school-wide in my opinion.

Karsten A. Loepelmann said...

@Peggy: Don't students get all of these messages at orientation, or at least, aren't there booths set up everywhere during the first week of classes to provide this information? I'm really wondering if it has to be "pushed" at people; if they're interested, they could just "pull" it.

(BTW, when I wrote "travel abroad" it should have been "study abroad".)

Anonymous said...

I think these are are really genuine perspectives. I normally don't pay attention to the classroom presentations except once, a girl from College Pro made a presentation. She was actually pretty funny. Said something about lead 10 staff and learn how to run a business. I signed up, went through like 6 interviews and have done the program all my summers while in University at the UofC. I graduated in Social Sciences, we all know what that means lol career wise, but I learned more from College Pro and running a company over the summers than University and I made about 30K each summer, no joking. I am pretty grateful to my Micro Econ prof that let her do an announcement before the class started because I will graduate with no debt, a bought a house and traveled a bunch, bought a nice ride and I feel great about landing a career. Worked out great for me (Thanks Prof. Schlenker for letting her say her two cents, my life would be really different today without it.

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