My Journal



Be Enterprising and Show Us the Water

A student wrote me last night with some excellent information for the class. All ASU students and faculty (anyone with an ASUrite ID) can download a little client (Mac or PC) to his or her desktop and use a ton of free software, including the major Adobe design apps, Dreamweaver, FrontPage, and other things like virus protection, FTP, etc. Here is the link (apps.asu.edU). I really cannot believe I did not know about this.

So, here’s the call for a post: She gave me all of this detailed information and suggested I share it with the class, but requested that I not mention the source (her name). What??? How can this be? She discovered an amazing resource, one that is legal, available to all, and would be hugely beneficial to the fellow students (and to me, both from a personal use perspective and from an instructor’s perspective in suggesting to students how to accomplish certain design and assignment tasks). This is the sort of thing that would make her look good in everyone’s eyes OR would truly serve a more altruistic aim.

I could not understand the reasoning behind her request, although I of course was willing to honour it. Nonetheless, I could not let it go. Here was my emailed response.:

Thank you for this information. Yes, I think it looks hugely beneficial.

I will respect your request to not list your name, but admit that I do not quite understand it. This is exactly the sort of thing that you want to step up and share with everyone. In fact, since this course ties very closely to the professional space (workplace), I will note that invariably all employers highly reward those enterprising individuals that go the extra step to find useful ways to accomplish tasks or offer new methods and products. In a hypothetical workplace situation, when it comes time for your review, this is the sort of thing that they will remember or, if not, you should remind them about… “What else did I do? Well, remember when I found that server where all of our employees could use various software applications for free? Yes, that saved us that $132,000 software bill.”

I do not mean to blow this one out of proportion or talk you into doing anything you don’t want to do. However, I am very pleased that you were able to find this information and service that I did not even know about and would love to give you credit for the discovery. I just want you to understand and feel comfortable in the fact that there is a mindset of wanting to go a couple extra steps to find what will help you and your fellow students (employees) and share it that will get you much further in all you do. If, for some reason, such a found process does not work or it turns out it is only for 30-day trial, that is fine. The important point is that you put forth a suggestion, if it does not work, a team will look and say, “Well, that’s too bad; that would have been great. OK, what’s the next option for how we can get this done?”

I will take a look at the information and likely post the information on the DB. Meanwhile, if you feel you want to post to the Q&A DB, and beat me to it, that’s fine.

The student wrote back, thanking me for the “encouraging words” but declined to post it herself. Colour me still frustrated. One of my roles and goals as an instructor is that of professional mentor. I teach a multimedia writing (MW) course in a MW and TC program – all of which is quite oriented to the professional workplace. Much of the fuel behind all I relay to the students is about making them better writers and in understanding the effects and applications of the decisions they make in how they produce documents. However, I also try and instill in them an understanding of how the theories, practices, discussions, assignments, etc. relate to the workplace – how to take what is learned here and apply it there.

Of course, trying to bridge this rift is not unique to me, quite the opposite; it is likely the most common struggle of technical communication instructors. However, I must realize that some individuals will, for whatever reason, not agree with what seems to me to be clearly a right and good action. In this way, I sometimes must step back and shake my head (much easier and less offensive as an online instructor) to let things happen as they will. I can lead a student to a Discussion Board, but I cannot make him post. Even better, I can teach a student to lead the masses to the answer, but I cannot keep her from hiding behind me, saying, “Pssst, over there… tell them it’s over there.”

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