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Battles March 11, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Information, Online Tools.
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civil war   Yesterday, I accompanied a fifth grade class to see a civil war re-enactment. Arizona, long before it was officially a state, hosted only one battle here. The Confederates lost the battle but the Union lost more troops. It was a Pyrrhic victory at best or, as one of the teacher’s aides called it, “a draw.?

I sat on a bus beside a small boy who told me his life story in under two minutes. He told me, among other things, of his separation from siblings in a group home, the loss of a sister, and a favorite song his mother taught him. In a few well-chosen words and a few of my own observations, he had freely given me a review of his life.

As we got off the bus for a quick trudge across a piece of desert to see the re-enactment, I realized how quickly a story could touch one’s heart. I also realized that when I chose to specialize in Special Education almost thirty years ago, I chose it because I thought I would do the most good as a teacher in that field. I chose it because of young boys like the one I met.

Thirty years later, I wonder how that boy could reveal so much so willingly while I am working to squeeze information from the faculty members in my college about their use of online tools in the classroom. Despite the ease of the online survey, I will likely have to speak in person with some of my colleagues to get the review data I need.

Perhaps they are making a point about either technology, the administration of the college, about surveys, or about me. In any case, my goal is one hundred percent reportage. I had given the Dean a tool for performing a detailed analysis of a single semester but he thought it best to broaden the survey to cover more of the actual taught curriculum. After two days of online reporting, twenty-two faculty members have reported on almost fifty courses representing over 700 students. Some of the respondents surprised me with their diligent completion of the survey, but they may have been making a bigger point, their non-use of online tools in the classroom.  

As in the Civil War, there are battles we decide we need to fight, and this review as a battle for baseline data is one I am willing to fight. I do not expect faculty members to be as forthcoming about their teaching as my little friend was about his life story, but I must say that I certainly will write letters of thanks for each of the faculty members who responded so far to the survey.

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