Friday, April 20, 2012

End of semester checklist

A few years ago, Ethan Watrall wrote an end of semester check list for professors closing out their semester-long courses. As we head toward the end of this spring semester, it's worth taking a look at that list once more. Some of items on the checklist capture good ideas for all teaching faculty; others likely pertain more to some faculty members than others. My own comments follow each of Watrall's checklist items:

  • "Backup my Course Websites": Most Metro State faculty who have course Web sites use Blackboard, so the specific suggestion for how to back up a course Web site on WordPress might not apply. Still, it's probably a good idea to have backup files or even hard copies of materials that are housed on Blackboard. The end of the semester is a great time to review your files to make sure you have copies (hard or electronic) of everything that's saved to Blackboard.
  • "Update my CV": For many of us at Metro State, this now means updating our entries in Digital Measures. Whether you're using Digital Measures or maintaining your CV the old fashioned way (as a Word file), the end of the semester is a good time to make sure your CV is updated before losing track of your accomplishments.
  • "Write an 'End of the Semester Roundup' Post on Your Blog": Perhaps you maintain a blog, but even if you don't, there is no better time to pause, reflect, and write about what worked well in your classes this semester, what you want to try differently next time, or even interesting pedagogical problems that arose for you that might be the basis of a SoTL project.
  • "Shred Exams/Papers from X Number of Semesters Ago": I have been informed from the Registrar's Office that it is good practice to retain a student's academic records (for most of us, this means the stacks of final exam booklets that line our shelves) for 5 years after the student's graduation or last date of attendance. I don't think anyone expects faculty to track all their students' graduation dates or last dates of attendance, so take these parameters with a grain of salt. Talk to your colleagues to find out what your department practices are regarding the shredding of old exam books.
  • "Backup my Class Materials": This is just good sense--make sure you have all your files saved in more than one place. Watrall adds "now is a good time to clean up the file names and remove any duplicate files, drafts, or other garbage files."
  • "Unplug": Your office machines, that is, during any lengthy absences.