The Updates

Occasionally, I get new information about something I've posted about before, and usually update the original post. Unless you go back and reread those, however, you may miss out on that info. Sometimes, it's hardly worth it to do an update. So here are some updates to things I've previously written about:

  • The New Colleague: After the brutal Alberta budget was released, our potentially new Faculty Lecturer decided not to come to the UofA. This is probably not a coincidence.
  • The Budget and the Clocks: I wish the clocks were the only thing affected by the devastating provincial budget. There's talk that the University may invoke "Article 32," a clause in the Faculty Agreement that allows the University to eliminate programs--in effect, cutting tenured positions. This would be a very bad precedent, and would substantially affect morale. (Oh, also? The brackets on the wall where the clocks used to be have been removed. And I may lose the phone in my office. Do you think the Premier has a clock and a phone in her office?)
  • The End of Perception: The end is near. I'm teaching PSYCO 267: Perception for the last time this term, and taught PSYCO 365: Advanced Perception for the last time in the past winter term. On the other hand, I will teach PSYCO 403 (LEC B2): Advanced Perception in Winter, 2014. And I will try to teach PSYCO 367: Perception in Spring, 2014.
  • The Udacity Partnership: Massive Online Open Course provider Udacity, with whom the UofA signed an agreement last year, has decided to concentrate on one discipline (Computer Science). That means all of our MOOCs (including the psychology one I'm working on as well as DINO 101) will have to find a new home. Stay tuned.
  • The Secret Project: still moving ahead. I've been consulting with some people who have given me some great ideas about how to improve student engagement. Plus, there's a cool new learning technology that I'm going to be using. All of this will be tested in my Fall, 2013 PSYCO 104 LEC A3 class.
Why aren't you studying?

The Open Comments: 7

It's the Spring term edition of open comments. I'd like to get some "formative feedback." That means if there's something you want me to know about my courses, tell me now while I have a chance to do something about it. (Don't wait until the teaching evaluation to tell me to speak up, for example.)

Comments can be anonymous, so you don't have to worry that I'll find out where you live. Unless you want me to.

Why aren't you studying?

The Google Calendar

I took an informal poll of one of my classes this term, asking about students' use of Google Calendar. I was shocked (shocked!) to find that only a small minority of students used it. (Although a few did promise to start trying it out.)

For every class I teach, I've been creating a separate Google Calendar containing important dates and deadlines. For example, I include the due dates for assignments. There are also reminders that will be emailed to you a day before each exam, as well.

I have a hard time keeping track of all the stuff going on in my life--and that of my family. Who has dance class today? Where is the soccer game? When is my dentist's appointment? There's no way to remember these in my head. (Some of my colleagues can really harness the power of their mind, memorizing the first 100 digits of pi, which is great. Me, I don't trust myself to be so organized.)
My wife has used a paper calendar in our kitchen, but that system is flawed. I can't book an appointment for myself if I'm not standing in the kitchen looking at the calendar. I don't know when the dance recital starts unless I'm standing in the kitchen looking at the calendar. It's very awkward. The solution: Google Calendar.

OK, it doesn't have to be Google--any online calendar that synchronizes to your devices will work. I've been using GCal since it came out in 2006, and it works well. You can get to it via the web, but it also syncs nicely with my Android phone and iOS devices.

You can "subscribe" to a whole bunch of different calendars, too. In addition to your personal calendar, you can subscribe to Canadian Holidays, UAlberta's academic schedule, or even the Department of Psychology's events calendar.

Here's a sad story. Despite my Google Calendar--and Bear Tracks, too--giving the time, date, and location of the final exam, one student last term forgot/missed the final, and ended up with a terrible mark. Don't let that happen to you!

Google has killed off other products that don't make it any money, and I can't see the revenue stream for Google Calendar. But the good news is that GCal is part of Apps@UAlberta, so it will likely survive future purges.

Why aren't you studying?

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