First lecture this semester, and I had it all worked out. I started taking notes for the lecture a week and a half ago; the blog post with the links I’d need was drafted on Friday, ready for a quick click of the publish button. I checked the network connection in the auditorium on Friday, I sat up till midnight Sunday finding those last links, the ones I never used anyway, and I photocopied the corrected overview of the semester this morning. I’d used the projector before, so didn’t bother to check that it worked. Ha.

What could go wrong? Well, you know I wouldn’t be writing this if nothing went wrong.

  1. I forgot the connecter, that nasty thing Apple has decided every laptop they sell needs to connect to a projector. Of course ibooks, 12 inch powerbooks and 15 inch powerbooks all use different connectors, but fortunately, our Mac guy was in and had just the right sort! Saved.
  2. The room was already taken. See, when I thought I had the room every Monday all semester, what that really meant was every Monday from January 26th. This Monday the room was booked for a group of four students doing an exam. OK: the room downstairs was empty, so we moved there. Except there was no network connection there, so we move up again. Luckily for me, my horde of fifty students outside the door scared the other teacher away and they found another room. Saved.
  3. Expertly connecting all the cords and computers and projectors while smiling to the students I suddenly realised that the connector would connect to my powerbook but not to the cable. After emptying the projector bag on the desk and finding every sort of cable but the kind I needed, I gritted my teeth, leered at the students and yelped that we would be discussing the web without technology for the next hour. How about we start by hearing all about your backgrounds? Saved.
  4. In the break I dashed over to the IT people, projector and laptop in my hands for safekeeping, and borrowed a Windows laptop from them. They set it up superfast, lent me extensions, the correct cable, which still didn’t fit the powerbook connector Diego had lent me, a power adaptor, a long ethernet cable. Laden down with gear, I staggered back to the lecture theatre. Only to find that I apparently hadn’t brought the power adaptor and the laptop was out of juice. And that only one student knew where the IT department was, and she was very heavily pregnant so couldn’t really do stairs and therefore wasn’t really a good person to send to fetch the adaptor.

But then, oh joy! Just as I was opening my mouth to say that I would be drawing webpages on the board and asking them to imagine them moving, one of the front row students coughed. “Would this help?”, he asked, holding out an ibook complete with the correct connector.

I’m going to enjoy this semester. Students with ibooks and connectors in the front row, four students with blogs in the back row, students who know nothing about this stuff but think it sounds really interesting, and ten students who not only have websites, they have their own domain dotted round the room.

And next lecture, I’ll bring all the cables. I promise.

(May your day be more successful.)

17 thoughts on “lecture from hell

  1. H?•kon

    A student offering his teacher an apple. That’s a nice tradition to keep up.

  2. Jill

    Actually, you’re right – it’s perfect!!

  3. torill

    Thanks for sharing. I think today is the day of almost-disastrous lectures. I thought I was giving mine Thursday, and was just going to start preparing slides and fancy stuff when I checked my calendar just to see how much time I had today. OW!

  4. Toril

    Jill, sounds like an awful day, and not such a great start, but as you know, when things get this bad, they can only get BETTER. Good luck with your new semester, and have fun!!

  5. ghani

    I think I would have just burst into tears of frustration about halfway through that list — well done to you!

  6. profgrrrrl

    Oh my! What an ordeal. Sounds like you handled it well, though.

  7. fivecats

    H?•kon (a name my American self recognizes only from the 5th place contestant in last season’s Norway Idol) (don’t ask) had it right!

    And, misadventures and challenges be hung, you’re posting makes me miss teaching all that much more!

  8. Matthew

    Aaaw, c’mon, it wasn’t that bad. And to tell you the truth, after just 3 hours of sleep the night before I was happy to enjoy a class led by someone who didn‚Äôt take herself too seriously (that was meant as a compliment). Let’s just say yesterday’s show is very much in contrast to oh so many classes, zZzZzZz. And like you said, technology is great when it works‚Ķ…and when it doesn’t……it’s a nightmare!

  9. Sindre Sandvik

    well we got the jest of it.
    when it works it works, when not it is seemingly impossible to get it to work, this is something found to be true of not only techology but most things.

  10. Jill

    Yeah, I guess you’re right. Study web design, learn life lessons. Yay!

    Anyway, I bet we’ll manage.


  11. David

    Well, that was more eventful than my first day this semester. The student w/laptop thing is great, except that they get that screen up in front of them and who knows what they are doing, email, chat, ebay. Occasionally I have guest lecturers and can watch the screens from the back of the room. It’s depressing how few of them are taking notes (our all-over 802.11b makes this much worse than I gather it was in the past).

    They moved me to a new classroom this year for my CAD class. For the last four years I have taught the class in a room where the students sit at machines on the perimeter of the room, facing the wall. They had to crane around their necks to see me and their screens at the same time, but I could see all of them and what was on their monitor, so I would know what they were doing and if I needed to give someone time to catch up. This year I am at the front of an auditorium, looking at the backs of 25 monitors and little tufts of hair. I’ve taken to strolling along the side of the room. I guess I will get used to it soon. – db

  12. Jill

    So you preferred the machines at the perimeter of the room, right? I haven’t had a chance to try it, but am sure I would. Some of our teachers, the ones who basically always have students copy things they’re showing on the projector, want to retain the rows and auditorium layout. And of course the IT staff don’t particularly want to redo the room.

    Hmm, but if I get to be head of dept….

  13. David

    Definitely. I think being able to see their screens makes a big difference.

  14. Sindre Sandvik

    I remember when I studied (well calling it study is a bit of a stretch)we had the classic rows of computers, and a blackboard up front with the teacher, he had two switches at his desk. One for monitors and one for the network connections… but this was when 486’s was the standard and pentium class cpu’s was something people only whispered about….and wireless network… that was something that the HAM radiogeeks experimented with…

    it worked…somewhat.

  15. David

    I give an exam at the end of my class, and its a problem that they have already seen. I found myself wanting a switch for network connections – so that they couldn’t do the exam ahead of time and store it someplace they could retrieve it during the test period. I asked our IT people. There isn’t an isolated cluster on campus I have access to. CS has one – just for giving exams, but every other cluster on campus has an always active net connection. So I wind up just having to be a good policeman.

  16. […] « The VLE of the Future. NewsMap » lecture from hell jill/txt lecture from hell Well I’ve not had anything quite that bad! THough just hoping that I won’t have […]

  17. jill/txt » teaching nightmare

    […] I hate teaching nightmares. At least I’ve never dreamt I was naked in front of my class or anything. And I didn’t dream I was unprepared. And it wasn’t as bad as that lecture from hell when none of the technology worked! […]

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