Online Testing: A Titan Runs Through It!

Even the nigh invulnerable were a little beat up today.

Even the nigh invulnerable were a little beat up today.

As I write this, I’m mostly referring to the first day of Standardized Testing, the Smarter Balanced Test. Designed to be taken using completely online media resources, the test was scheduled for two hours of the schedule today…as it will be for the remainder of the week. I was pretty proud of how well behaved my students were, considering that only around twenty percent of them could actually log onto the system to take the test. The rest, when selecting the state and test suite from the special app…about eighty percent of my kids…immediately got an “access denied” message from the testing system, like the message in the third panel above.

Let me make this absolutely clear. It is the job of numerous people in the district to work this stuff out, but the day of the Big Test…four out of five kids get “access denied.” My experience was typical for my grade level, setting in motion a chain of events requiring all of the iPads to be “reprovisioned” in the hopes that they might be made to work for this purpose. That reprovisioning, for hundreds of iPads, needs to actually happen overnight.

I was prepared for this eventuality…the prior posts clearly show that I was expecting it. My floor of the building was more or less set for such a turn of events, and things went relatively peacefully. My own temper was running hot, to be sure…but we kept the young ones in order. The bottom floor, and elsewhere on the campus…not so much.

I placed four calls to the Main office for tech support, which never arrived. Once…I was actually hung up on by the office, which only served to fuel my general negativity. What if I hadn’t been a Doom Sayer? What if I had assumed all would go well, and had no back up or contingency plan? Several teachers did just that, and as a result, the end of the day was even more chaotic than it needed to be.

I write this, having taken a vast number of tablets (the medicinal kind, not the digital kind) for my headache, knowing that this is the plan for the week. It’s a formula for disaster…take a group of students, stress them out, bore them, and then give them a shortened day of non-classes. It is a sure fire system for creating mega-Haters, like the one depicted above. Student behavior can only be expected to degenerate under such conditions of opportunity.

About the mega-Hater, or Hater Titan. I needed an unintelligent, hyper destructive force that would be a challenge for the protagonist, both physically and visually. I also spent a decent amount of time reading the manga “Attack on Titan” last summer, long after most of my friends had told me it was great and that I should check it out. It is good…very good. I’m usually not a manga fan, but it impressed me, with its incredibly creative setting. I read too much of it at once, however….and hit a critical mass about it.

Still…I’ve been experimenting with perspective and foreshortening lately, and the Titans give a real forum for doing that in a visually stunning way. I’m very happy with this page, all the way to the “access denied.” As I was drawing it, I imagined that the Negative Zone Suit could just as easily be running by itself, empty…like a drone gone wild. Like our iPads…destructive, and only able to display the one message, “Access Denied.” I also like that even though it’s tiny, we see some of the special doohickeys on the Negative Zone Armor…I’m sure we will see it in greater detail later.

A friend of mine asked me to draw some Kaiju style art, so on some level, this is a good way to set foot into the destructive, radical perspective world of giant Japanese monsters. It’s funny how hard it is to visualize how it works out on paper, even though we think we have a good idea of what looming giant monsters should be like.

I mean…after all, we have all dealt with Standardized Tests, and Bullying Haters. Shouldn’t we have a visual perspective for giant monsters?

Next Issue: The Changing Face of Comics, and Responsible Cartooning.

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