INCOHERENT SCREAMING

I remembered what the extra thing I wanted to include in yesterday’s “Today’s Nonsense” post was– that I had been teaching my kids about the Pythagorean theorem, and all day the phrase Hypogean Gaol was interfering with it and making the words come out wrong. The Hypogean Gaol is an area in Bloodborne. I am an idiot.


I’ve realized something today, which is that I don’t actually think I would be able to graduate from college if I were to attend today. There is something that happens to my brain each and every time I am forced to access Canvas for any sort of training, and I am completely unable to pay attention to any prerecorded or even live talk through a computer screen for more than fifteen to twenty minutes. I have never in my life shown any other signs of ADHD; it’s not that I can’t focus in general, but something short-circuits in my brain whenever I have to listen to someone talk through a computer screen and I cannot do it. And unfortunately right now I have put myself into three different situations at once that are requiring me to do either or both. Again: I am an idiot.

Featured in the above image: I am currently enrolled in a program to build online courses through Indiana University. That launched this week, with a horrifying two-and-a-half-hour Zoom meeting last night, and is supposed to be 10-15 hours of work a week on my end, with a $2500 reward if I make it through nine weeks and actually manage to collaborate with other humans to build this class. Unfortunately, the first thing we need to do is make it through this week’s work, which is an “eight to ten hour” Canvas class called Responsive Engagement and Virtual Learner Assessment. I did a few early bits of it today, including a request that we read the article above and “socially annotate” it, and, well, you can see my response to the bit I highlighted in purple on the right.

There are around 200 people involved in this thing, we’re all supposed to do this course this week, and as of right now there are no comments whatsoever past the second page of the article, which is 17 pages long. The yellow highlighted comments at the top there are one person writing “test comment” three times.


The other thing that’s driving me nuts is that we have been in a world where we have done everything online for a solid year and there are still people out there on the “I don’t know how to rotate a PDF” level of understanding of technology. How are you a teacher in April of 2021 and you don’t know how Zoom works? Look at this:

Now, part of this is IU’s fault, because I am a tech guy and even I’ve been kind of blindsided by the sheer number of digital tools that they want us using to be able to do this, and there have been some clear “wait, we sorta fucked up the roll-out here” signs from the people running the program, so I imagine people who aren’t as savvy are probably drowning. But how the hell do you log into Canvas, open a course, navigate through a third of the first module of that course, follow the instructions to open and register for another web service, then use that web service to complete your assignment by saying you don’t have access to Canvas?

Aaaaaauuuuugggghhhhhhh. It reminds me of this:


One more thing, and then I’ll draw this embarrassing bout of whining to a close: part of the 2 1/2 hour zoom-a-thon yesterday was a talk by a retired History professor at IU, of tenuous connection to the course, about what he called bottlenecks to understanding class material. A bottleneck is not an especially complicated concept, and in fact it’s something that’s a known problem by every teacher with more than about ten minutes of experience: that sometimes our students have trouble with our material because of other things that are interfering with their ability to learn said material. Now, he seemed to be limiting himself to academic roadblocks, such as, to stick with the Pythagoras example, if you think “squared” means “multiplied by two,” you’re going to have a hard time figuring out the length of a missing hypotenuse. I asked at one point if he considered economic or family or even motivational factors to be bottlenecks and unfortunately didn’t get an answer. And the lecture was over an hour long, which wouldn’t have been an issue in-person, but over Zoom was absolute torture, because I can’t pay attention to people talking at me on Zoom. It was made worse by the competing factors that 1) I thought the material was a classic example of academics thinking they’ve discovered something that is, forgive the pun, elementary to the people doing the work, and 2) no one else seemed to get what he was talking about. Like, he asked us a couple of times to talk about bottlenecks that we’ve seen from our students in our classes and people just started listing topics. Like, “finding a main idea” is not a bottleneck! Not by itself! “Integers” is not a bottleneck, but brain development issues that make the abstract concept of subtracting a negative to be difficult to understand might be!

tl;dr I am tired and quite possibly an asshole.

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Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

2 thoughts on “INCOHERENT SCREAMING

  1. My mum’s iPhone 8+ wasn’t reading QR code with its camera; I’d had the phone for 4 years prior and had not had a problem. We’d scratched our heads for a rather long time over this: turns out that in the camera settings there’s a little button that wasn’t pushed to enable QR code to be read. Never seen that shit in my life before, and no tech savvy young person had been able to help. Obviously an update. This type of shit shits me. Also: that academic author is a complete wanker. I’m with you.

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