Software May Be Incompatible With Your Dungeon Terminal.
This is less about my evaluation than about the realities of being a public school teacher in South Central LA, or East LA…for these purposes, the distinction is subtle at best. In LAUSD, all teacher evaluations are now completely paperless, and done in an online format. That format used to be called TGDC, for Teacher Growth and Development cycle, but now, after a Union “Victory”, it has a different acronym.
I put “victory” in quotes because although there have been some changes to it, the online evaluation system is still very similar, and ruled by a clunky, poorly conceived online interface that could only be described as “User Hostile.” Yes…an interface that is actively adversarial and even discouraging to the end user, to drive a process that some people find intimidating.
I had to submit my Initial Planning Sheet by the end of Friday, and that’s where this post, and the artwork, have their Dark Genesis. The key here is understanding the very nature of the problem. It’s not about writing the initial planning sheet…it’s about being able to write the initial planning sheet. Technologically.
I have a desktop computer in my classroom, that was connected to the internet via ethernet cable. That’s the machine I initially started the evaluation on, when it was announced to me. Since then…an electrical problem (that wasn’t safe) was resolved in my class, but a necessary side effect of that action was disabling the data service to the room…permanently. There is one wireless access point covering the room, but the desktop has no wireless modem access.
No problem! I fire up the laptop the school provided, and sign on. Easy peasy…except the interface won’t allow me to access the “action items” that I need to enter with my browser. So I try another.
And so on.
It turns out that NO browser on the laptop will allow me to change or edit things that are in the evaluation system…but they will let me look at them. That’s something, but not something helpful, when I need to write the planning sheet in the little text windows, which the browsers won’t start up.
So, I check my iPad, the new one issued to me at this new school. Hallelujah…! It will let me have all the access that I need. I take out the keyboard that will allow me productive typing and so forth, to make the job easier and discover that the keyboard is not compatible with the version of iPad that I’m holding.
Eventually, it got done with iPad’s virtual keyboard, one of the single least productive interfaces I’ve ever experienced.
The key here is not that I don’t have the technology at hand. Three reasonably up to date computing devices were at my disposal, expressly for use in educational endeavours, which includes this, my evaluation planning sheet. The problem is that none of the parts…the software, the network, the cabling, the interfaces, the hardware/pointing devices, even things like bus cables, were compatible with any of the other things. It’s exactly the problem of buying technology without an over arching plan for long term compatibility, or considering the things you HAVE bought, when contracting software.
That is entirely how public education deals with tech, though. “Is that new? It must be good. Get that, and have some science person figure out how to make it work.” After a few years of doing that, the issues become too layered, with too many moving parts, to be dealt with by anyone except the end user…who is me, in this case.
It wasn’t that bad though. It got done.
The art is all about that. The Dungeon Terminal is some kind of proprietary computing device installed in the Dungeons of the Edu-Mountain, which there seem to be a lot of. Our hero’s office is there, as we know. We have another Goat Monk, but this one seems more like he could also be a ninja, possibly because he is talking about technology. Possibly because he took the walk all the way from his office in the Main Edu-Center to come to the dungeons to give advice about using the Dungeon Terminal Who can say…? The ways of Goat Men and Ninjas are both mysterious.