Tag Archives: technology

It’s a Known Issue

We just barely saw the sun through the clouds  as it slipped into the horizon.

We just barely saw the sun through the clouds as it slipped into the horizon.

“I need some ocean air” I texted to him, as I was packing up to leave work.  So I drove towards Newport Beach, picked him up from the office and we pulled a parking spot just as the sun was hovering close on the horizon.  Then we hopped out of the car and headed across the street to the bench where we’ve sat so many times before to watch the setting sun.

I noticed that when I stepped off of the curb my knee felt a bit stiff, but I ignored that feeling.  I was focused on the sunset and not on my gait.  But then when we were about a foot from our bench, I dropped to the pavement.  My knee had completely given way and had buckled underneath me.

The jogging couple walking behind us stopped abruptly.

“Is she okay?” they asked.

Meanwhile, I was gauging how bad it was.  I’d fallen just as I should.  No obvious scrapes or sore places, although I suspected that I’d torn a hole in my skirt.  And I didn’t want to stand back up immediately, knowing that if I did I would probably fall right back down.

As the couple from behind us hovered in concern I almost said to them, “It’s a known issue.” But checked myself and said cheerily “No problem, I’m fine!”  And they passed, confused as to why I was still on the ground.

It happened yesterday, too, this falling–on the blistering hot asphalt of a cafe parking lot, which was really not a very fun place to try to troubleshoot the malfunction.  Because of that I almost headed into the repair shop first thing this morning, knowing that a failing knee wouldn’t be a plus as I navigated my workday.  But the knee acted normally as I tested around the house and in the garden before heading to work.  I figured that the fall yesterday was an odd blip and the quick reboot of the microprocessor that I’d done in the parking lot had resolved the problem.

But now that it’s happened twice, I’d say that it’s gone from a one-time blip to being a “known issue” that’s got to be escalated to a professional.  Because falling can be risky (and painful) and particularly inopportune if I’m carrying food or my laptop.

So I’ll get a loaner knee ASAP and send mine back to the factory for service.  And as I do so I will marvel at the fact that I can swap out my knee almost just as easily as I upgraded my iPhone last week, with all of the settings and customizations are preserved “as is” so I can get back to my everyday routine just as soon as possible.

managing my inbox (and more)

Cross-posted from the Chapman Academics Blog

Between my work and personal accounts, I receive about six thousand emails per week (how do I know how many?  Google recently started sending me stats regularly). And, almost none of that is spam due to some awesome filtering by  gmail and my campus IT department.  Although I still let things slip through the cracks sometimes, I’ve developed some good skills for managing the email firehose:

  • Some items I delete unopened–vendor spam, online purchase confirmations, bill reminders, PR, etc (note: I have an itchy-finger tendency that automatically delete anything that invites me to a webinar, and I have yet to regret that).
  • If a message will take less than a minute to respond to (or to forward to the right person), I do that immediately.
  • If a message simply needs to be forwarded to someone else to be resolved, I do that immediately.
  • When an email entails a lengthy and complex reply, I typically open the reply window on my desktop and return to it throughout the day when I have downtime from my other tasks.  As soon as I’m done with it, I hit send.  At the end of my day, I typically don’t leave for home unless all of those “open” messages are replied-to.
  • At the end of the day I scroll through my inbox and check whether I’ve missed anything that can be resolved.  At that point I aim for inbox-zero.
  • If anything is left in my inbox from the day before, I review it first thing in the morning and attempt to resolve it then.  Rinse and repeat.

In both my personal and work email, I create a fairly exhaustive list of folders for filing away email messages.  I delete the spam, but I almost-never delete my other correspondence.  Instead, I keep it for if/when I need to refer to it again.  Because I support hundreds of faculty members on my campus, it’s helpful to have a record of what problems I’ve resolved with each of them.  Several times, I’ve found that they have the same problem more than once, and having a record of how we solved it last time, makes solving it the second or third time even easier.

Teaching with a Typewriter…

This semester I’m teaching a class with a strong technology component.  So far my students have used flickr, wordpress, SIMILE timelines, Wordle, Wikipedia, GDocs, Blackboard, and Prezi.  On my midterm evaluations several of them commented that they had technology-fatigue after learning so many different tools.  As a result, I decided it was high time to get old-school.

So, last week I brought in my Royal typewriter to class for the students to use for a short in-class assignment, where they would write a twitter-length summary of the day’s reading.  I learned that not one of them had used a manual typewriter before–most of them couldn’t even figure out how to load in a sheet of paper and no idea what the ding of a carriage return meant (much less how to pull on the lever to move the carriage back to the other side of the page).  Only one of them had the finger strength to consistently hit the keys hard enough to make an ink impression on the paper.  Afterwards I wondered if perhaps they were scared of breaking the machine–despite my encouraging them to pound on the keys.

Bringing a typewriter was a bit of a stunt, but I think it also underscored how useful technology can be in the classroom.  In their reflective writing after the exercise, most praised academic technology (although they still have a strong distaste for Prezi).  None of them want to have to type out an assignment manually again, although one of them said that if she could “choose” to use a typewriter on a school assignment that it might be fun.

As an instructor I’m doing all I can to not only teach the students the ins-and-outs of technology, but to foster an environment where the students are constantly working at the edge of their knowledge–to keep them actively involved in what we’re learning together.  Because of that, I expect them to feel frustrated with and even tired of technology.  I expect them to fail sometimes when they try something new (or in this case, when they try to use a tool so old that they might not have ever encountered one in real life before).  More than showing off mastery of a technological tools, I expect the students to be curious and experimental.  I want them to play with and explore the use of tools in ways that are unique to them and aren’t a carbon copy of the way that I use them.