No Fancy Name
Sunday, September 05, 2004
two weeks down, fourteen to go
Or something like classes started last week. I'm actually into the flow and everything. So, for the sake of the few people who wonder how I've been spending my non-work, non-writing time, it goes something like this:

Monday night I have a 6:30pm-9:15pm class, "International & Comparative Management". I sit in the back of the cavernous room with my laptop on and the wireless up, and take notes and/or handle any work-related things that pop up/didn't get done during the day/should get done before the morning. Sometimes I've been known to read blogs during this time. This is because the prof and the class are quite boring. Not that the information isn't good—it is—but it is also dreadfully boring. I actually do take notes, should he say anything noteworthy. Lest you think I'm a terrible student, I'm not...I do all the reading, dutifully take reading notes and write my case responses. The one good thing so far about the class is the writing requirement. I love a class with a writing requirement, even if it is only a page or two per class. There's nothing special or noteworthy about this class—no group work, no big paper, just the weekly writing and a few midterms

Tuesdays are a big day. It starts with my 7:30am-8:45am class...actually, it starts with my 6:30am trip to the diner. I figure if I'm going to get up that early, might as well start the day off right, with a hearty breakfast. This class, "Organizational Change and Design", has a significant amount of group work, which I hate. But I knew about it, going in, and it is a class on managing orgs, a group being an org, so it makes sense. There is also a writing component in the class, which is good, but it's in pairs, which sucks. I don't particularly like having my grade tied to the work of another, especially when it comes to writing. Knowing we'd have to be paired off for case writing, I scoped out the class members and tried to figure out who I could stand to share the tasks. I had a few picked out, who had either been in the first half of this class with me, or who are in some of my other classes...but they either already paired up or packed up and left class when it was over, before I should track them down. That left the guy sitting next to me...a senior, frat-boy kind of guy, perfectly nice but sort of a goof. He sat near me in the first half of this class, last semester, so I know what grades he got on his tests and papers. He didn't fail or anything, but he didn't get As. Of course, neither did I, but I came a lot closer. :) Anyway, he's my partner. We teamed up with two other sets of people, to form our group. The group will be doing a semester-long study on a particular company of our choice, resulting in a paper and a presentation. I will be lobbying throughout the semester for my group to let me be the person who pulls the paper together, based on all of our responses, etc. I hope it works. Oh, because this class bleeds into the start of the workday, I have my laptop with me and my eth cable for wired access. I don't like being unavailable to my boss, although I rarely have anything to deal with at the start of the day.

Tuesday afternoon, I have a 4:30pm-5:45pm class: "Business Systems and Policy". This is the class where I get to learn all about the use of Microsoft Access as an enterprise database system, or some shit like that. Oh, and how to develop IT solutions for companies. Yes, it's a required class, else I sure wouldn't be taking it. First, I know how to develop IT solutions (and if I didn't, the company I work for would be in a world of hurt!) and second, don't even get me started on Access... But the fellow teaching it is awfully nice, and despite the sarcasm apparent in this description, I don't have a bad attitude about it. There's group work in here as well, for writing up some cases, and I had no real opportunity to pick group members based on anything other than geography...four of us sitting next to each other decided to be a group. They're all quite freaked out by the case writing thing, so I am going to generously volunteer to be the team leader for the first case. We all have to be team leader twice (there are eight cases), so they'll have to do their part, too...but I'd like to start us out on the right foot, and writing cases in the format provided by the prof doesn't freak me out.

Tuesday night, I have a 6:00pm-8:45pm class: "Management Issues in High Technology Companies". The prof is very nice, and funny in that sort of off-beat way where only I seem to laugh at his jokes. I have my laptop in this class as well, with the wireless, but more for notetaking than anything else, as it seems to be an engaging sort of class. The first class meeting was just an overview of the various high tech (semiconductors, telecom, hw/sw/services, etc.) firms worldwide and their relative revenues, but it was really funny because we were all wrong a lot of the time and just sat there yelling out names of companies that we thought might possibly be in the top ten of something. It wasn't graded, it was more like an ice-breaker and a way to kill the first class period when none of us had any assignment to do for that day. The funniest part of the class was at the end, when a woman went up to tell the prof that he didn't call her name during roll call, and it was determined that she actually should have been in the class across the hall. Now, not only did she sit through almost three hours of the wrong class, "Management Issues in High Technology Companies" and "Diversity in HR Management" are pretty damn different classes. If she didn't clue in to that, as we were discussing the relative revenues of, say, IBM and Dell, and the differences in their product offerings, methinks she ought not be in either class and instead may want to spend some time back in Business 10 or some other introductory course. Those of us still in the room were all suitably aghast. Oh, there's a group project (paper) in this class as well. One of the team roles is "Project Writing Coordinator". Guess who will be lobbying hard for that one?

I have no classes on Wednesdays, and Thursdays have the same 7:30am and 4:30pm classes, but my evening class is different. From 7:00pm til 10:15pm, I have "The Victorian Age", and although the classroom is wireless-enabled, this is a seminar class with all our desks in a circle...having my laptop open for notetaking and work-related connectivity just seems wrong, so it's back to pen and paper for this one. I check my mail and what not during the hour before this class, so if some emergency arises, I'm all over it. None has, so far. We're opening this class by reading Bleak House, so I have read the first 200 pages or so, and I have to say, I don't hate it. I am rather enjoying it, actually. The class itself is a strange mix of folks. Now, let it be known that my school of 21K undergrads is 32% Asian, 27% White, 12% Mexican American/Other Hispanic, 7% Filipino and 4% African American (plus 18% not stated). In other words, pretty damn diverse. In the business school, I'd say my classes run about 60% Asian, 20% Mexican American/Other Hispanic, 15% White, 5% other. In this class, we have about 20 people, and 18 are white. There goes the diversity. But what this class lacks in ethnic diversity, it makes up for it in the range of ages present. I'd say there are 5 people around normal college age, about 7 of us in the 30s, and no less than 8 people eligible for AARP. So far, the AARP folks haven't said much, and the conversation has been dominated by the ultra-annoying 19 year old boy who has managed to work in every book he's read plus his knowledge of trepanning. Now, I've only read the first thirteen chapters of Bleak House, but I don't think there's any mention of trepanning in it...or any of the other novels we'll be reading in that class, for that matter.

Fridays are off days, but I do have one online course and the work for it tends to happen on Fridays. This course, "Philosophy of Science", is a WebCT class and it's just fascinating. My fascination is less of the subject matter (which I've already read, having taken half of this course before) than it is the participation. There are 40 students in the class, but the first week has generated 374 messages. Yes, participation in the discussion board is graded (and required), but in an offline class, participation is graded as well—any of you teacher folk ever had 73 distinct, thoughtful student comments on something that wasn't part of the required reading (and 113 on reading that was required)? Maybe you have, and maybe my surprise stems from the lack of participation and intelligence that I've seen in my other classes. It should also be noted that this class contains zero Philosophy majors—it's an advanced general education course and the majority of the class are in business or science (the two largest schools on campus), so it's not like the discussion is dominated by anyone with any academic experience in Philosophy. It's quite heart-warming to watch and participate, because not only would I have participated less in an offline class, I'm sure the rest of the class would have been similarly quiet. Except, of course, the loudmouth on the message boards who seems intent on responding to each and every comment like a pompous ass. I'm sure he would have been like that in person, too.

All in all, an interesting mix of stuff, so far. Keeps me busy, at least.


job / books / new blog

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