The student has tears welling up in his eyes. He’s the age of my father, and I’m not a young man. To his great frustration, his speech instructor has integrated learning management software through every aspect of the course — assignments, readings, tests. This student is coming back to school after 50 years. And, because he hasn’t led a life that involved computer use, he just can’t keep up. So we have to drop him from the class and hope to figure it out for next semester.
Technology isn’t always a solution. For some students, technology is the problem.
I got an email today from one of my best students. She’s dropping my class. It took her several hundred well-written words to say “I work full-time and I’m in the Army reserves and I have two other classes, so your class is too demanding for me right now.” That’s a tough one. All I can do is write back, tell her that I think she’s making a wise choice, and hope that I see her again next semester. And it is a wise choice, given everything else she’s doing. Too many students sink under that kind of load instead of jettisoning something. But the class will be poorer without her.
I’m correcting some late papers from one of my weakest students. Nontrad, working, seems to have some comprehension issues, previous grades all over the map. We’ve already had a serious talk about what the word “plagiarism” means — I believe she honestly didn’t understand that she couldn’t just copy out of the book. One assignment, which I allowed her to rewrite, is barely high-school level work. The other is worse. I know she’s trying hard, but she has a long way to travel before she reaches even a C.
I teach and work at a community college. These stories aren’t unusual in our context. I stand on the exact spot “college is for everyone” crashes headlong into “college should challenge everyone.” We’ll continue to examine this balancing act in the months to come.