The Skittle Stability Effect

| Learning | July 27, 2017

(The science teachers hate the labs the course makes us do, so they are often modified into something completely different; then the teachers need to explain what to do. We’re doing a modified science lab via an online conference involving Skittles and M&Ms, and are trying to calculate the results.)

Teacher: “What’s the average diversity index for the M&Ms? Add them all up and divide by three.”

Class: *does the math* “0.85.”

Teacher: “All right, what’s the average diversity index for the Skittles?”

(I do the math and frown at the results.)

Student #1: “0.85.”

Student #2: “Um, 0.85…”

Me: “0.85?”

(Everyone else reports that they indeed got 0.85.)

Teacher: “Really? It’s the same? I’ve done this lab for ten years and it’s never been the same.”

Me: “We just made history!”

Student #3: “Mark this day down on your calendars. The day we got two results to be the same in a science lab.”

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Your Lessons Are Redundant

| Learning | August 23, 2016

(I work in an online English school and most of our students are Japanese. We do our best to make classes as fun as possible and there are students who do the same! Here is one of them. In a particular class, the student and I talk about some vocabulary words including the word “redundant.” We also mention examples of sentences with repeating words. Towards the end of the class…)

Me: “Do you remember the word ‘redundant’”?

Student: “Yes!”

Me: “What does it mean?”

Student: “Repeating.”

Me: “Very good! Don’t forget it, okay?”.

Student: “Okay!”

(Every after class, I send a “thank you” message to students and wish them a good day. Some of them reply and some don’t. For this class, the student replies.)

Me: “Thank you so much, [Student]! You did a great job! Have an awesome day!”

Student: “Thank you, you, you! I redundant you! Hahaha.”

(Very clever!)

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Internet Killed The Video Store

| Learning | July 13, 2015

(I’m taking an online-only course on video editing. The final project requires that we post a video we have created with various elements online. On the night that I am trying to post my project, two days before its due, the instructor’s preferred video site isn’t working. Since he gave us the option to post it where ever we want and I have my own web server, I quickly put together a page using HTML5 video and put it on my site. When I get my grades back I note that he’s given me a C. It was enough to drop my overall grade in the class to a B+. Note that this is the first assignment – ever in my two years of college, not just in this class – that I’ve gotten less than an A on.)

Me: “I see you gave me a ‘C’ on my final project. May I ask why? I thought I had done a good job on the video.”

Teacher: “The video itself was good. I’d have given you an ‘A+’ on it, but you didn’t put any design into the page you put it on.”

Me: “That’s not part of the grading rubric you gave us.”

Teacher: “Regardless, you’re in a web design program, and there was no design.”

Me: “So, wait a second: you’re telling me that because I took the extra effort and used technical knowledge about the field – which this degree program has yet to cover, I might add – to create my own online player but didn’t make it pretty that I’m getting a lower grade than if I’d just uploaded it to YouTube like my technophobic mother could do? And all that even though the only thing on the rubric was the video itself?”

Teacher: “Yes.”

Me: “And you don’t see the problem with that?”

Teacher: “I can’t help you.”

(Ultimately this undeserved ‘C’ caused me to graduate with a 3.98 GPA instead of a 4.0. I never got below an ‘A’ in any other course.)

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