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Posts Tagged ‘six

I almost forgot. Almost.

Just over six years ago, I left full time employment to operate as an independent consultant. I did this for reasons immediate and emergent. I shared most of the reasons and my journey over the last six years on this blog. But I have not fully shared the reasons that became important over time.

One reason that was minor at the beginning but became important over time was my physical health. I was hospitalised barely a month after leaving full time work. My recovery taught me that if I did not have my health, I could not have anything else.

Another reason I left full time work was mental health. I used to live for work — I was practically addicted to it. Now I work to live — I make what I need to pay the bills and provide for my family. I do not make as much as I used to, but I have learnt to be prudent. It does not take much to be happy.

This year has been challenging thanks to the coronavirus, but the way I work has helped me prepare. Remote work is the default, online collaboration is the norm, video conferencing is natural.

I anticipate that next year is going to be more challenging than this one. There is a very slow falling domino effect in education consultancy that not many can see or care to see. But I look forward to making it Year Seven in 2021.

I am in the middle of an intense grading exercise. This happens every semester because I get at least one Friday class which has deadlines on Friday evenings. This means that I burn weekends to give timely feedback to my students.

This practice is not unusual because I was a teacher and professor. I am married to a teacher and my parents were teachers. Marking scripts on weekends is a sad family norm.

What I find irritating is that I need to have at least five (sometimes six) web browser tabs open to provide feedback and grade. These is a tab each for:

  1. The institutional LMS (to access the online scripts)
  2. The feedback tool (for commenting on student work)
  3. A timer (because the LMS page times out every 30 minutes)
  4. A Google Sheet (for recording my marks)
  5. A Google Doc (for backing up my comments)

When I am in a public place like a library, I have a sixth tab to play soothing music through my headphones. I do this to drown out inconsiderate users who talk in the study space.

Technically I should need only three tabs open: The LMS (to get the scripts), the feedback tool (to read and comment on them), and the Google Sheet (to record the marks).

However, the auto-timeout of the LMS page requires me to refresh it, so I need the timer to remind me. If I do not pay attention, the LMS page times out in the background and my last set of comments does not get saved. The feedback tool also just freezes.

I need the Google Doc tab to back up my comments. I have been burnt by a systems administrator who removed my LMS account and its data (all the assignment comments), so I need the Google Doc for continuity between semesters.

Then there are the people who talk in the library… sigh. Ambassador-at-large, Tommy Koh, recently described us as a first world country with third world citizens. It is the small things that add up. Small things like being considerate in a shared space.

Needing five (or six) tabs open to grade and give feedback is a first-world problem. But the problems that cause them have been around for as long as Man has soiled the Earth.

This rant has been brought to you by Misanthrope Plus.

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