Troy Patterson

Educator, Thinker, Consultant

Month: February 2015

Private vs Personal vs Public

CityscapeGeorge Couros has written about Personal and Professional vs Private and Public and how these relate to students and teachers. I like Mr. Couros. I don’t always agree with him, but I think that he does a terrific job of raising conversations. He does this very professionally.

It is important to understand the definitions here. The “personal” is an account that is used with friends and family. The “professional” is the center around the professional work that you do. I have talked to many teachers about having these two accounts (and being very, very careful about which one that you are using). Mr. Couros argues for a different construct: private versus public.

What I am always aware of is that no matter who sees what I put out there, anyone can see it eventually, whether if it is through me or someone else.

  • George Couros

Please note that he doesn’t disparage having different accounts. It is just not a methodology that he follows. He notes several examples of personal account postings that have had disastrous professional effects. There are many others, not necessarily related to education. Justine Sacco’s life was severely altered by a single tweet. Thus is it crucially important for users to understand that anything posted, even if posted on a “private” account, is still a public posting.

Here I completely and totally agree with Mr. Courcos. We need to help teachers and students understand that absolutely anything that is posted, no matter where, can be made public. Oh, and it can be made public forever. Just because it doesn’t become public right away doesn’t mean that it never will.

Where we diverge slightly is in choosing one or the other. I believe that is important for teachers to understand both debates. Everyone should know that conversations online are public. But, everyone should also understand that there are different audiences for messages. There is no need to unwittingly push the debate where it shouldn’t be pushed. Oh, and it is also important for users to understand what is public and what is private. Frequently, this becomes Facebook is private and Twitter is public. No. It is far more nuanced than that.

However, knowing the intended audience is an important skill and message that we need to teach and understand. There are many things that may be public knowledge, but that one doesn’t need to broadcast to the public. Teachers are in a tenuous place with this. They need to be wise about what they are posting and where. (See Mr. Couros post for some horrific examples.) There are many others in a similar situation. Police personnel, doctors, and elected officials need to be wise as well.

I’m really glad that Mr. Couros has continued this conversation. I hope that educators everywhere will read and discuss the article so that they can make informed choices.

Customer Service

One of my beautiful daughters and I thought that we would take a class together. We talked about a digital photography class. I searched through the Community Education courses that were available, but there were no digital photography classes available. Darn. Then I started looking at Community College courses. After a good bit of searching, and I do mean a good bit, I found a class that would work at Wayne County Community College District. The class is on the weekend – perfect. I bookmarked the course using Diigo, and figured that I would ask my daughter if the time/place/course would work. Good thing that I bookmarked the course, because when I went back to find it, well, that was frustrating. I clicked on my bookmark manager and found the course again right away. (Lesson #1 – Diigo rocks.)

So, daughter and I are ready. It’s late at night, so no way to register. Next day, I call the number prominently featured in the brochure (right by “call to register”). A very nice lady answers. I ask about registering for the Continuing Education course. She very nicely informs me that I can register by mail, by coming to the campus, or on-line. Great, I say. I’ll register on-line. After all, I’m pretty competent with using the Internet. Except. The only online registrationa that I can find is for existing students who are apparently taking program courses. Thus, I call back. The same lady answers the phone. We exchange pleasantries again, she really was a nice lady. She offers to help me register online. I follow her instructions, clicking on each link as she explains it. An extremely convoluted process that ends up – right where I was earlier to register. (Apparently, I was able to get there much easier the process that she had). However, I still needed a student number in order to continue. Oh, well, she explains, I’ll have to come to the campus in order to register. I ask about registering over the phone. After all, this is just a fun class. Neither my daughter nor I expect credit of any type. Plus, the cost of the class is obviously not a credit class. She lets me know that I’ll have to come to the campus to register.

She then explains that they are open until 7 p.m. Would I like to make an appointment, she asks? Not really, I say. If they are open until 7, can’t I just show up. Oh, well, they have some problems when people show up after 5, but before 7, she nicely explains. OK. So, you’ve just identified that your own employees don’t stay until they are supposed to stay. But still, I don’t really want to make an appointment. Did I mention that this is a class that I just want to take for fun? This should be a low stress experience where I give them money and they let me attend a class. No real paperwork after that. No credit. No transcripts. Just a fun class.

So, I leave work a bit early for the 26 minute drive to campus to register for the fun class. Only there is traffic. Lots of traffic. (Side note, God Bless people who make this trip through traffic every day). The 26 minute trip turns into a 70 minute trip. I arrive a bit after 4:30 p.m. I enter Student Services to register for my fun class. The panicked lady who greets me quickly informs me that no one is here to help me register. I explain that I’m just registering for the Continuing Education class. I don’t need to know about programs or take the entry exam or anything. I laugh and note that I’m really just here to give them money. Panicked lady is not impressed with my humor and repeats that no one is here to register me.

OK. So, I’m a little frustrated now. I’ve already spent time trying to register online. I’ve made two phone calls to register. I’ve now driven to a campus to register. Still nothing. There is a security desk just inside the door. I ask if the campus president has an office around. They ask why. I relate the story quickly. They are laughing out loud, they love the line of “I’m just trying to give you guys some money”. They direct me around the corner.

Entering this office, there is a secretary and a lady working at a large table. The secretary seems pretty dog gone bored by my story. (Late Friday is apparently not an enthusiastic time around this place). However, the lady at the table, asks me for my name and phone number. Apparently, my explanation of “if I were in charge, I’d want to know that people are this frustrated trying to register” struck a chord with her.

So, after trying to register online, after a couple of phone calls, after visiting the campus, I’m still not registered for the class. I may try to go again on Monday. After all, I’m in this far. The class sounds like my daughter and I would have a good time with it.

However, the “customer service” that I’ve experienced thus far leads me to want to avoid going through this again. I doubt that I am alone.

Snow Day

Snowy walkway

Snowy walkway

Due to a good amount of snow, a bit over ten inches, school was cancelled for today. I spent a bit of time shoveling the white fluffy stuff and more. But what is a day off now? Not only did I spend time shoveling, but a good bit of time working as well.

First off, email. Email doesn’t seem to every slow down or stop. So the email keeps flowing. I kept up with email from home. A few really important ones were addressed. A few of the emails revolved around web based activities. Thus, I was able to completely take care of those. Adjusting web settings, correcting some access permission settings and updating information can be done from anywhere I have a web connection. Thus, all of those things were completed on my day “off”.

Next up, content creation. Since I use Moodle, I can add, correct, change, hide/show, etc. any of the content on courses. This can be very handy. Again, the key is an Internet connection. Of course, I can also control the content delivery. As Liz Kolb pointed out on Twitter, there is no snow day for on-line courses.

Next, I did get to address a few things on my “to-do” list. Again, mostly the things that I could get done were web based activities. I took advantage of the opportunity to do a little bit of research on a variety of topics. I also took a little bit of time to organize some of the media that is available on-line. Then, I took just a bit of time to review some setting for various web sites that I manage. All little things that constantly are pushed to the “someday” list. It was nice to resolve some of these issues. Finally, I did get a chance to do a cleaning of the to-do list as well.

Lastly, I did a little bit of general cleaning about the house. Good things to get done. I would’ve liked to do a bit more reading (old fashioned paperback that I reading), but maybe tonight.

I’m not sure how this compares to snow days of years gone by, but I do know, that for better or worse, more work was completed today on a “day off” than would’ve been done in the past.

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