Course websites reach critical mass

The Mines campus is on high alert after Friday’s report that the number of course websites used at CSM reached critical mass. Officials are unsure how this situation will unfold, but they say that the results could be dire and far-reaching. “It’s exactly as bad as it sounds,” said CCIT representative Lisa Meitner, “the number of course websites has reached the point where new websites begin forming spontaneously.”

Meitner said that professors “have been warned” about the potential consequences of coming up with their own special course website for every single course rather than using the sites that already exist. Besides the likely meltdown that will happen on campus sometime today, “it’s kind of a jerk thing to do to the students,” Meitner said.

However, many professors are above what Meitner calls “the cutoff age for computer fluency”. Having grown up in an era when technology was used only by a few, this generation tends not to understand that at this point, the tools allowing them to do what they want to do already exist, and do not need to be reinvented. Also, the older generation uses the internet in a fundamentally different way. Unlike their students, they approach the World Wide Web only with a specific task in mind. It makes sense to them to partition each class into its own site, even though aggregators like Blackboard exist specifically to prevent this.

Unfortunately, the students as well as the faculty are now paying the price. Students went to their classes on Friday only to find that a few of their instructors had been turned into helpless automatons, spewing URLs and updated syllabi with barely a pause for breath. The problem has since spread to afflict most of the faculty, blocking all attempts at teaching. Most students will now find that even single assignments are spread out over multiple websites.

Students are advised to attend class only as long as their professor appears normal. “We’ve had scattered reports that the affliction might be spreading to students, too,” Meitner warned. CCIT is currently working on a network barrier to protect unaffected individuals, and contaminated people are being found and isolated. “The problem really blew up in the teacher’s lounges,” Meitner said, “because too many excited URLs started bumping into each other. We hope if we separate the teachers or at least keep them from talking about course websites for a while, the chain reaction will die down.” In the meantime, CCIT is also working on a more aggressive campaign explaining the benefits of aggregators. “Once we get this hopefully cleaned up,” Meitner said, “we’ll actually be asking the instructors to use plain old email for a while until we can scrub out all the fallout.”

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