Saturday, January 20, 2007

Back to School and Basketball

Three of my five online classes are now underway this semester. One period of time I enjoy the most is when my classes are up and ready and the students have gained access but the first assignment remains a few weeks away. The time invested during breaks in revising the quizzes, revising and uploading the assignment pages and the introductory and explanatory material, and updating both the calendar and the dates for the assignments and quizzes suddenly seems worth while. Sure, I have been responding to student questions and discussion postings, but the grading, what I dread the most and what I spend most of my time on, hasn’t yet started.

I currently have forty-two students and will be gaining another fifty when my two other online classes start in February. Although these two additional classes are classified as late-start, that is, ones that start about two weeks after the semester gets under way, students have been asking me about gaining access, not having realized that they signed up for a late-start class.

Not having all five classes start at the same time is easier on me in a number of ways except financially because I don’t get paid unless I’m teaching. There’s a trade off, I guess, in having to undergo less stress and fewer sleepless nights but in forfeiting the money that would start arriving earlier than February 15. It’s always amazing that the Zogby surveys I fill out ask me whether I am part of the investor class. If I had the disposable income for investments, I would also have the money to pay off my student loans, and my wife’s, and to pay off the mortgage and her car. Wouldn’t that be great!

In preparing my classes, I missed the Oklahoma State-Texas basketball game on Tuesday. I saw the first few minutes before getting back to work after dinner and had the impression that it might be a repeat of Oklahoma State’s loss to Kansas. I should have had more faith in Mario Boggan and JamesOn Curry. It turned out to be a historic game with Oklahoma State beating Texas 105 to 103 after three overtimes. ESPN, fortunately, repeated the game on Thursday for those of us who missed Brian Eaton’s thirty-five foot shot to the basket in the last second of the shot clock, the multiple three pointers made by JamesOn Curry, and Mario Boggan’s winning shot in the final seconds. Even the walk-on Tyler Hatch scored during the last overtime. Oklahoma State basketball in particular, and Big XII basketball in general, make these first three months of the year enjoyable. No matter how many essays require my attention, no matter how little money I make, no matter how little initiative my students possess, and no matter how many of their questions reflect not having read the material, there is always Oklahoma State basketball to get excited about.

A few years ago, when CBS was broadcasting one of the Oklahoma State basketball games, they kept leaving the game to show the progress of some Eastern school, something like North Carolina or Duke or Pittsburgh, and after the first half, the network never returned to the Oklahoma State game. I ended up having to write the network to complain. CBS needed to get its priorities straight.