By: Student Worker #1
The term “catfish” according to Urban Dictionary is “someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.” There is a TV show on MTV dedicated to this phenomenon. Brad Paisley also talks about “castfishing” in his song called “Online”. I decided to have a little fun with the course schedule and see if there are any course titles that catfish you into thinking that a course is something other than what it is actually about.
The two most famous catfish courses are “Age of Dinosaurs” and “Human Sexuality”.
“Age of Dinosaurs”, GEO 302D
When you think of Age of Dinosaurs you may think:
Alright Dinosaurs are awesome!
However, this class is a catfish because it is focused mostly on the bone structure and evolutionary process of the dinosaurs rather than the dinosaurs themselves. Also this class has been known to be very difficult.
Its kind of heartbreaking
Human Sexuality PSY 341K
Your first reaction may be like:
Because the class is probably just like this:
But Human Sexuality is a good catfish! According to many students it is considered one of the most interesting and entertaining electives to take and an easy A.
Other lesser known catfishes
Bad Blood GRC 301
Since this class is in Germanic Studies you might think this class is about the Germanic Barbarians during the Roman Empire
Or possibly something about World War II
But unfortunately this is another Catfish! This class is about race and the development of Social Darwinism in the 19th Century, which might sound interesting but the title does not advertise that at all.
Poets and Punks E379R
When you first read this title you might think its a little of this:
Mixed with this:
At first this class sounds like students will be comparing the lyrics of popular punk bands like Green Day and The Clash with famous poets like Robert Frost and Edgar Allen Poe. But really this class is about the post war English culture and the punk subculture that occurred in the 1970s due to the decay of the working class. This class is still very interesting, but not necessarily what I expected.
Game of Thrones E314J
Of course the first thing that comes to mine is a class about the hit TV show called Game of Thrones
The class is about the BOOK Game of Thrones and the class is based on its broader context. In this class students will read Game of Thrones but will be analyzing the literary themes of the book and discuss its influence on society and other literature. It will not be a class where students will simply watch Game of Thrones all day and geek out about the story and characters.
So this class is not a full catfish, but if students think this class is simply just watching Game of Thrones all day then they may be disappointed.
History of Rock Music MUS 307
You probably think the class will look something like this:
And the professor is someone that resembles this guy:
Who will also teach you great life lessons
And your homework is this:
However, many students take this class because it sounds like a blow off class. This is not the case. According to MyEdu students have said they enjoyed the class and the instructor, but it is far from a blow off class.
So if you plan on taking this class looking for an easy A, you may be disappointed.
At UT we have classes that can catfish you. Do not let that happen to you. Be sure to always research the courses you plan to take and check the course descriptions as well.
The Other Student Perspective on the Course Schedule
By: Student Worker #1
When it comes to students using the course schedule I have generalized how all students register for classes based on my own personal experience. Lisa tells me that I far too often use the “royal we” when I talk about student habits. Therefore, I decided to ask other students about their process for picking classes and their thoughts, if any, about the course schedule. My round table discussion included six students: Ben, Derly, Sam, Hannah (she’s Sam’s girlfriend), Megan and Lauren, from five colleges: Liberal Arts, Business, Communications, Natural Sciences, and Education. These students provided great insight on students’ attitudes towards scheduling and registration.
I must admit, I found the results very surprising. I had an impression before the interview that most of the students were going to use MyEdu exclusively; however, that was a false assumption. It turns out many students use both the course schedule and MyEdu in varying capacities.
I started by asking my friends to describe their process for registering for classes. Derly and Hannah said they primarily use MyEdu because it is more interactive in that is has weekly schedule planners and professor ratings. Nonetheless, they do check the course schedule every now and then to make sure the information on MyEdu is accurate (because sometimes it is not). Ben, on the other hand, uses both quite frequently. Ben uses MyEdu to plan his schedule but checks the course schedule in order to see which classes are open. Lauren mentioned she primarily uses the course schedule to pick classes and only uses MyEdu towards the very end. She says that the course schedule helps her find classes that are cross-listed with other classes. She uses this to petition for courses to fit in her degree plan.
As I wrote previously and mentioned earlier, these results were not exactly what I expected. Based on these students’ experience, the course schedule is actually utilized quite often. In fact, many students like Lauren believe that the course schedule is absolutely necessary for picking classes.
I decided to find out if some of my assumptions when beginning the Course Spotlight blogs, were also wrong. The next few questions had to do with why students pick certain classes.
Most of the group said they pick classes based on when they are scheduled and who is teaching the class. For many of the students the timing of classes is very important. Megan looks for classes that are back-to-back so she doesn’t have to have large gaps between classes. Derly looks for classes that are an hour and a half rather than fifty minutes because he gets more out of the lectures. Derly also registers for 15 hours and then drops one class at the beginning of each semester because he only needs to take 12 hours. Megan responded to that by saying “What’s it like being a spoiled brat?” Meanwhile, Hannah always checks to see if the course is offered online, whereas Derly tells us that he is an “old fashion feller” and gets more out of a traditional lecture. Furthermore, Megan, Derly, and Ben all stated that they hate taking Friday classes and they avoid them at all costs. However, the one exception to “no Friday classes” was that they do not mind taking classes at less desirable times if there is a good professor.
I began noticing a trend in all the answers. These students chose classes based on the class attributes (Lisa’s word); i.e., the professor rating, the time, the size, etc.) rather than the content of the class (i.e. how will it be graded, what will students be learning, what’s the reputation or research of the prof, etc.). I decided to investigate this aspect a little more.
I asked if any of them had ever chosen a class for the sole reason of having an interesting course title and, if they had, whether it was a good or bad experience. I asked this question to see if the group researches the classes that they sign up for. Sam was the only one who picked a class because it looked interesting and had a good experience. Sam is in a class called “Advanced Documentary and Production” and he says he enjoys it. Ben, on the other hand, explained how he tried to pick an interesting UGS class his freshmen year but it ended up being a terrible experience and he had a rough time in that class. Since then, he has never picked a class based on a catchy title. Megan has taken two classes that sounded interesting based on the course title, but were not what she expected at all. She took “Time Matters”, which she thought was about time management, but was actually about the theory of time, which she was disappointed about. She also took a class called “Children’s Movement” which she did not enjoy either.
Pressing forward, I then asked the group if they regularly checked the course descriptions and only two of them said yes. Sam checks the course descriptions of each class because they are provided on the RTF website. This does not surprise me since he was the only person who had a good experience taking a class because it looked interesting. Hannah, Lauren and Megan said they never check the course descriptions and are not sure where to find them on the university website. Ben informed the group that sophomore year someone told him that you can check the course descriptions, search for syllabi and course evaluations through a big database on the university website. Ever since he discovered this he has been using it. After that Megan chimed in saying, “Why does no one tell me these things?” Great question! I realized that students should be better informed not just about the course schedule but also about the course descriptions.
What I gathered from this round table is that students check the course schedule because they need to. Most students do use MyEdu, but that does not mean that they completely ignore the course schedule. Therefore, I was in fact using the “royal we” when I said, “we students do not use the course schedule enough”. The big discovery was that students do not look for course descriptions on the UT/departmental websites to see exactly what classes they are getting into. As a result students end up like Megan, and Ben during his freshmen year, registered for classes that they cannot stand because they were misled by a course title. The very last question to the group was “what are some ways we can make the course schedule and our class selections better?” Derly had the most compelling answer. He thought that the course descriptions should be better advertised to students. He also thought that there should be a link from the course schedule that will take you to the course descriptions. This actually exists! WE as students (not the royal we) need to be more aware of the course description database because that will allow us to better understand what classes we are signing up for. I urge all students to check out the course descriptions before registering and research all the classes you need to take.
Liberal Arts course descriptions: http://www.utexas.edu/cola/resources/syllabi/index.php.
Also in the course schedule you can click on a unique details page and then click on the department headnote you can find course descriptions there as well.
Same History, Just Told Differently
By: Student Worker #1
My last two course spotlight blogs were on courses with catchy titles such as “The Rhetoric of South Park” and “Debating the Bible in the 21st Century”. We learned that while these unique titles catch our attention when scrolling through the course schedule they also provide academic merit. However, not all classes at UT have unique course titles that grab our attention. Most classes have a general course title and description such as “Intro to Biology” or “Macroeconomic Theory”. Does this mean that all courses without flashy titles will be boring or generic? Certainly not. To demonstrate this I met with Dr. Brands, who is teaching HIS 315L, “The United States since 1865”. After sitting down with Dr. Brands it was clear that there is no such thing as a regular, everyday course here at UT.
Meeting Dr. Brands was a huge privilege for me because of his many achievements. He decided to pursue history through his interest in teaching. He taught history and math in high school. After receiving his Ph.D. at UT, he taught at Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. In 2005 he returned to UT as a professor. He has appeared in three documentaries, written 22 books and is currently working on a biography of Ronald Reagan. If that doesn’t impress you enough, in June 2009 he was also invited to the White House to meet President Obama as one of the nine most distinguished historians and scholars in America. With accomplishments like these, it is hard to think that his class will be plain and boring.
If we know anything about college students it’s that they do not like the words “general ed requirement”. Students may fail to find anything unique or special about taking US history again. They may be cynical about coming to a big auditorium early in the morning to learn about something they think will not pertain to their future. Students may also be arrogant thinking they know everything the professor will talk about since they have taken classes in US history since elementary school. If this is the case, then these students are in for a big surprise. As Dr. Brands explains history is meaningful for two reasons: 1) “to be informed citizens. By the time students graduate UT they will be old enough to vote. And just as people have to take driver’s training to get their drivers license. People ought to know something about the United States and its history to be responsible citizens.” and 2) learning history allows for acquiring greater critical thinking skills, which as Dr. Brands states is “the primary function of college.” He believes that students before college “have not been encouraged all that much to think on their own and question the things they have been told.” Dr. Brands hopes to change that by promoting independent thinking.
Can this course really be that much different from what is taught in high school? Certainly. The history stays the same, but it is how the history is analyzed that differentiates history in college versus history in high school. Dr. Brands says, “As students mature intellectually they are allowed to deal with more complex issues”. In high school students are just told the facts of US history. In college, since they understand the foundations of US history, they can look at the complexity of history and learn that US history is not just cut and dry. It actually has many aspects and many different viewpoints. An example Dr. Brands points out is that students can state two opposite views of Roosevelt’s New Deal and they can both be correct as long as they can accurately justify their views. He wants his students to understand that there is no right answer in history, but an effective way of thinking and reasoning about history. Not only will this class be beneficial, but it is also engaging. Dr. Brands restricts his students from using laptops and taking notes, by doing this he forces students to engage in discussion, form opinions and draw conclusions. For example, he asks his students, “What are the grounds for the US to go to war?” Then, after a discussion, he asks his students, “What grounds would you volunteer to go to war?” Along with promoting intellectual discussion these questions allow students to put themselves in perspective of past events in American history.
Personally, I feel like I got ripped off when it comes to my US history requirements. I, like many students, came into college with my US history classes already fulfilled through either community college or AP credit. When I was 16 years old I took dual-credit US History I and II. In one summer, I took care of my US history requirements for high school and college. For a very long time I felt like I got a great deal and beat the system. However, now that the majority of my college career is over, I feel I am at a disadvantage for having learned history the easy way rather than the most beneficial way. I feel like I would be much more engaged in my college classes if I had taken US history in college rather than taking the AP or dual-credit route in high school. After meeting Dr. Brands I understand that at a prestigious university such as UT there will always be something worth learning in each class, even if it is a simple required course. Therefore, I argue that students should not strive to take classes that seem the easiest, but rather classes that will benefit them in the long run. Moreover, students should not think that an ordinary course title will result in a simple ordinary class.
Painting the Course Schedule on Canvas
By: Student Worker #1
Last week I was at the Red River bus stop on my way to campus when a startling Daily Texan headline caught my eye, “Blackboard acquires MyEdu preceding UT’s transition to Canvas”. I know the title isn’t very concrete so I will go ahead and summarize the article: Blackboard is purchasing MyEdu! I know what you are thinking, The Course Schedule’s archenemy, MyEdu, is back! With MyEdu back in the news I knew what I had to do; all of a sudden “The Final Countdown” by Europe began playing from out of nowhere, I looked up very slowly from the newspaper and into the horizon and then I said in a powerful voice “It’s time to write a blog”. Just then, the bus showed up and I proceeded to walk on the bus in slow motion as my friends watched in awe.
If you keep up with my blogs you will know that MyEdu is a website used to help students choose classes for future semesters. MyEdu is extremely popular among students here at UT because it allows them to not only plan and organize their schedule, but also share it with their friends, and figure out instructor’s grade distribution. According to the Daily Texan article 80% of UT students have a MyEdu account making it very appealing to online tools like Blackboard. As we all know, Blackboard has been our one stop shop for communication and resources related to a course. Except for times it has “technical difficulties” during finals week, Blackboard has always been there for us to check grades, assignments, announcements, etc. But will MyEdu being part of Blackboard enhance communication and technical opportunities for students and faculty on this campus? I am not convinced. If you have checked Blackboard at all lately you will find a big announcement stating UT will be switching to Canvas by the Fall 2015 semester. The UT Blackboard homepage is equipped with a countdown to Canvas for those who way too eager for the switch.
But why is UT breaking up with Blackboard? They seemed so cute together. After reading another article from the Daily Texan “The Daily Texan talks to UT technology specialist about Blackboard to Canvas transition” I learned the reasons behind this break up. According to Mario Guerra, a UT technology specialist, Canvas is a far better tool because it is more innovative, robust, looks better, and fixes bugs more frequently. In fact Canvas is hosted in the cloud and therefore will be better at fixing those technical difficulties that Blackboard faces. Guerra also states that Blackboard is “slow, clunky, and out-dated”. So as heart breaking as it sounds Blackboard just cannot satisfy UT like it used to.
So if Blackboard is getting trashed how will this affect the use of MyEdu for UT students? Since 80% of UT students use MyEdu this allows Blackboard to still receive benefits from UT, but unfortunately they will not enjoy having the benefit of being the learning-management system for UT anymore. Conversely, if this young and hip Canvas program is so robust could its new features provide an alternative to MyEdu and get students using something else? Most importantly with all these changes happening to UT how will this effect student’s use of the course schedule?
My guess is that the use of MyEdu will be increased since it is now part of Blackboard. However, once Canvas is put in place in the Fall 2015 semester it will be interesting to see how the University deals with this change. I still stand by my stance that the course schedule should be utilized along with MyEdu. But will our hero The Course Schedule stay strong against the possible threat of the Canvas and the strengthening force of MyEdu? I suppose we will need to stay tuned to see.
Important Dates and Deadlines* for Spring 2014:
- 6–FaSET Opens
- 13–First Class Day
- 13–Deadline: Small Class Petitions by 10am
- 13–Deadline: 2014-15 CRF/FRA/SRA Acceptance Forms Due
- 14—Deadline: Small Class Petitions (for classes whose enrollment dropped below during or after 1st Class Day)
- 15—Deadline: Small Class Petitions (for classes whose enrollment dropped below during or after 2nd Class Day)
- 16–Fourth Class Day
- 16—Deadline: Small Class Petitions (for classes whose enrollment dropped below during or after 3rd Class Day)
- 17—Deadline: Small Class Petitions (for classes whose enrollment dropped below during or after 4th Class Day)
- 20–Deadline: HB 2504 compliance
- 20–MLK Day (University holiday)
- 21–Schedule Production: Summer 14 Chair’s Proof Opens
- 21–Deadline: Summer/Fall 2014 Advising Note and Office Location updates
- 24–Deadline: Summer 14 Chair’s Proof Closes
- 24–Deadline: Spring/Summer 2015 and 2015-16 Maymester and Department-Led Study Abroad Program Proposals
- 29–Twelfth Class Day
- 30–Final Exam Reporting Opens
- 4–Event: University-wide Course Scheduler Meeting, TBA
- 5–Event: Course Schedulers Meeting, GEB 3.312, 9:30-10:30am
- 5–Deadline: FaSET Closes
- 10–Fall 14 Chair’s Proof Opens
- 12–Deadline: Final Exam Reporting
- 17–Deadline: Fall 14 Chair’s Proof
- 18–Deadline: Fall 14 Late Flag proposals
- 3–Deadline: Area (CEHET, Additional Natural Science, and Social Science) Requests
- 10, week of–Spring Break
- 17, week of–Scheduling: Summer 14 Advanced Copy available & CSU Opens
- 17–CIS Request Site Opens
- 19–Event: Course Schedulers Meeting, 9-10a, GEB 3.312
- 24, week of–Scheduling: Fall 14 Advanced Copy available & CSU Opens
- 25–Summer 14 Course Schedule Published
- 26–Summer 14 Registration Advising Course Descriptions public on departmental web pages
- 28–Deadline: CIS Requests
- 1–Fall 14 Course Schedule Published
- 2–Fall 14 Registration Advising Course Descriptions public on departmental web pages
- 2–Event: Course Schedulers Meeting, 9-10, GEB 3.312
- 14–Deadline: Spring 15 Flag Proposals
- 14–Schedule Production: Spring 15 Original Opens
- 15, approx.–Spring 15 Course Inventory Management Opens
- 21–CIS Administration period begins
- 25–Deadline: Spring 15 Original Closes
- 2–Deadline: CIS Administration Period Closes
- 2–Last Class Day
- 5–Deadline: Finalize FaSET EoS Snapshot
- 7–Deadline: Individual Instruction Grade Sheets Due by 10am
- 9–Deadline: Spring 15 Course Inventory Management forms Due to Dean’s Office
- 9–Deadline: Spring 15 Course Descriptions, Non-Standard Time Requests, Restricted Cross-listing Requests, Shortened Format Requests
- 12–Event: Schedulers’ Retreat, 8:30a-12:30p
- 14–Deadline: CIS Packets Due to GSB office
*Dates are subject to change and may be updated periodically.
Tagged: chair's proof, CIS, CRF, CSM, FaSET, final exam, flags, grade, HB 2504, inventory, Small Class