Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A Half Rant About Uni Workshops

So the classes in most of our modules goes like this – lecture followed by workshop. The workshop is basically where we talk about what we’re doing, look at each other’s work and give feedback. It’s actually really helpful and so far this year all the feedback I have has been compliments and constructive criticism, which has been great. I’m actually not that great at giving feedback myself. They say that you can find problems with other people’s work easier than you can find them with your own but I’m one of the few people for whom it is the opposite. I can clearly see most problems within my own work but when looking through someone else’s, unless there’s something really obvious to me, I can’t usually find anything to criticise. A simple little point here and there maybe, nothing more. I suppose it’s always easier to talk about the good.

Anyway, the little rant I have today is relating to this process, regarding something that happened this week. Now because we only have a couple of hours for the workshop so what happens is three people volunteer each week and then they send in their work to be looked at for feedback. Last week, I volunteered, but so did three other people. Because I’d already had more turns than some of the others I agreed to go the week after the holiday (the last one before the deadline).

This week only one person sent in their work. In addition, the last week before deadlines is no longer being used for class feedback. It annoys me that I volunteered to go last week and I would have sent in work but I didn’t because others said they would and then failed to.

Now, I don’t actually have anything against those individuals for it, I’m not one to hold something as simple as that against someone particularly because my piece is very close to being finished anyway and to be fair I have already had two workshops. I also know that things may come up during the week that stops you from being able to finish or send in that work. Plus the other two who were chosen weren’t in today so giving feedback on their work would have been pointless anyway.

The thing is though, last week only one of three sent in theirs too, so I would have hoped that our teacher may have accepted the possibility that not everyone would send theirs in again, particularly as this is the week before Easter, which I’m guessing is the reason so many were absent today. The lack of people would also have meant each piece was done faster. At the very least, one more isn’t a lot, and I could have been allowed to send mine in anyway and gone last so that if we did run out of time they could just focus less on me, which is something I did in the last semester. It just annoys me a little because I really wanted another class feedback and now I won’t get one. Though if I’m lucky I may find volunteers still willing to go through it and give their thoughts.

Of course, I might have solved the problem for myself too. When it became clear we were only going to receive one piece I could have emailed and asked if I could send mine in too. I didn’t think of that until afterwards and that may have helped. Of course, that would have been hard to tell, due to my other mini rant topic: when we receive pieces for feedback.

The way it works is we email our work to the teacher and they email it out to the class. Because of this we were told at the beginning of the semester to send our work at the weekend, Friday preferable but Sunday at the latest. I usually ended up doing it on the Saturday. Now I know that I’ve already said things can come up which prevent you sending in work on time, and that is true, but for the last few weeks we haven’t been receiving work until Monday, sometimes even Tuesday. On one occasion I think it was even Tuesday evening. That is not a lot of time to be able to print this work, sit down and read it and give proper feedback, especially as some pieces are up to 10 pages long. This isn’t always the students fault, I will say that, aside from whatever else may come up there have been times that the person who was supposed to send out the work did it late. I know I should have learned to put time aside in case that happens by now but it always comes to the point where you think nothing else will come so you make other plans and then end up having to change your schedule around to work on this. As I said above, it also makes it difficult to know until Tuesday night whether or not more work is coming, at which point it’s too late to ask if you can join in too.

As I said, I’m not that angry or upset about it. It was just a few thoughts I had so I thought I’d share. I mean no offense whatsoever to anyone in my class who may have sent in work late or been unable to do it at all. I don’t know the reasons and I’m not going to make any assumptions.
I'd also like to add once more that I love workshops and find them incredibly useful and a wonderful part of our modules. As with most things, it does have a couple of problems, but the good far outweighs the bad.

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