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Chattanooga State Technical? Community College

2008-11-19 19:47:58.302234+00 by Nancy 8 comments

Can I gripe here on Flutterby?

I am entirely frustrated with Chattanooga State and don't have anywhere else to vent. I have long said that getting that little piece of paper when I graduate means that I have successfully navigated academia bureaucracy, not necessary that I've gotten an education in anything else. All the crap that follows below proves my point.

I had three problems recently with Chattanooga State's various online systems.

[Edit: Dan and Nancy have decided this eats too much of the front page, so we've continued it in the comments]

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-19 20:12:51.176646+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

Nancy continues here:

  1. Registering for PO110 Intro to Govt Science After five days of numerous online attempts, multiple emails and seven telephone calls, I registered for PO110 successfully.

First, I received multiple online attempts to register: received error message PREQ TEST SCORE-ERROR, then:

Emailed my advisor, Paul Ray (a teacher in the paralegal program I attend)

Left Mr. Ray a voice mail

Attempted to register again and received message: SECTION CLOSED

Telephoned Mr. Ray and was told to "persevere," because the second section should be opening up according to his sources

Emailed Mike, who in turn emailed multiple (12+) parties at Chattanooga State on my behalf

Nancy Rogers from Chat State emailed to inform me that the section has been opened and I could now register (she's the only one of the 12+ people who responded)

Made several attempts to register again and received message: PREQ TEST SCORE-ERROR

Telephoned Nancy Rogers who told me that either Joan in Records or Gail at the East Campus office or my advisor could override the prerequisite requirement. (I have the prereqs though it should be noted that the catalog does not list any prereqs for PO110.)

Telephoned Joan in Records who told me she could not override via telephone, only via fax with an advisor's signature

Telephoned Gail on East Campus who told me that she has no authority to override anything

Telephoned Joan in Records again who gave me the numbers for two people in the political science department - John Hayworth and Anne Carroll who would be able to override

Telephoned John Hayworth who overrode the prerequisite, allowing me to log in to banner (the online system) and register. FINALLY.

  1. elearn - error "unauthorized to send external email" Nancy Rogers explained to me that I had to click on links within elearn to email my instructors; their Chattanooga State email addresses are considered EXTERNAL!

I expressed my desire to have an email notification at my primary (personal) email address when there is email in my elearn in-box. She agreed this sounded like a good idea. (Though whether it is possible within elearn is another thing and whether it is implemented, yet another.)

I also expressed this idea to John Hayworth, who told me that Chattanooga State was "ahead of everyone else" in online learning technology. I begged to differ, pointing out the technologies available outside academia. "Ah, yes, but we ARE an academic institution" was Mr. Hayworth's reply. I went so far as to tell him that I thought that elearn and banner were an embarrassment to an institution professing to teach technology. I also told him that I felt I'd received more of an education trying to navigate Chat State's inane online systems than I had received in the classroom. He simply continued to spout off about how wonderful Chattanooga State's technology actually is.

  1. banner - change/update telephone number I expressed my dismay to John Hayworth over my having been chastised by Paul Ray, including his telling me I was "hostile" (the man doesn't know hostile, believe me), during class in front of my fellow students (and everyone else in the library at the time) over my not having my telephone number in banner. I had tried to add my phone number but was unable. I tried again right then with the librarian's help (Laura Young) and was again unable. (I even tried faxing it to records.)

Teachers expect students to keep their banner profile updated, regardless of whether the banner system is functional or not. Mr. Hayworth agreed to assist me in adding my telephone number to the banner system. He told me he would be back in touch with me the same day with an update on his progress.

John Hayworth did not call me back as promised. I telephoned Nancy Rogers the next day who transferred me to Norma Lee in registration.

Ms. Lee confirmed to me that you cannot change or add an address online in banner. (AH HA!) To do so, you must:

go to chattanoogastate.edu

click past the guy with his pants falling down ("Joe" - check him out at chattanoogastate.edu - this is our school spokesperson. A wigger. great, eh? Guess that's the type of student they're trying to attract?)

click on current students

click on request for change of record

print this form and take it to records or fax it (except there is no contact information listed)

Check back on banner to confirm that someone has changed the information.

Repeat as necessary.

Norma Lee in registration was very helpful in providing me with all this information, including the fax number. She is the first person I've spoken to at Chattanooga State who knows that telephone numbers and addresses cannot be added in Banner. She says she's told "a few people" but word is definitely not out. ALL THE TEACHERS NEED TO BE INFORMED THAT STUDENTS ARE NOT ABLE TO KEEP THEIR INFORMATION UPDATED ONLINE IN BANNER. Maybe the teachers could provide the change of record form when needed.

Is it any wonder that students do not have their current information in Banner when this is the necessary procedure to follow? Is the administration as frustrated as the students are with the banner system??

Later, I received this email, cc'd to me from Nancy Rogers to Norma Lee:



See below from the student I transferred to you this morning for Banner help. If students are not going to be able to update their contact info in Banner any time soon it maybe a way could be found to inform the faculty that they can't.

Thanks, Nancy Rogers Technical Clerk Chattanooga State's Center for Distributed Education


Jeez, ya think? If it's not working...TELL SOMEONE!?? What a novel approach. Then how about "FIX THE DAMN THING"!?

My frustrations with Chattanooga State are enormous. Two more weeks of my current three classes, then 16 weeks of four more classes til I graduate. Not that I'm COUNTING or anything.

Thanks for letting me vent. Maybe I'll feel a little better now....

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-19 20:15:28.270007+00 by: Dan Lyke

You're just saying this 'cause you're married to a kick-ass web developer, so you have a reference point for what a good web application should be!

In general, though, I totally agree: The education industry and culture is far more about instilling culture and ritual that continues that establishment than it is about the knowledge.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-19 21:54:17.346002+00 by: meuon [edit history]

Dan, thanks for the complement (blushing). And while it's not ready for prime time yet: Grokledge online learning already works better than eLearn and "Banner", or at least, for what it is supposed to do, it works well.

Notes for some people whom might care: Grokledge is a ground up rewrite based on 2+ years of online learning management systems experience. It's lacking courses (until Nancy and some other friends get time to help me write some) and a lot of features JT and I referred to as "Ivanisms" from the system I built for others. UtiliJoule and UtiliFlex are doing well, and I may never have time (or interest) in finishing it, but it's out there.. and maybe.. someday..

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-19 22:17:17.006926+00 by: topspin

Call me old school, but I recall pulling punch cards for classes in Maclellan Gym circa '75. Darkening the right letters and numbers on my registration form for my name, SS#, address, etc. <gnashes gums together> And we liked it....

Picture a sea of souls in the gym. Wandering from the English table to Psychology across a mass of folks huddled on the floor trying to make schedules. Joining that fray when I discovered the section of Chem II that I "had to have" was closed. Registration may have been the best educational experience I had at UTC....well....with the exception of that incident in the student center stairwell.

'Course.... it could've been.... probably was.... the drugs that made it all bearable.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-20 02:47:48.233242+00 by: ebradway

Chatt State was always fraught with bizarre rules. My last year of my BS at UTC, I petitioned to take the basic surveying class at Chatt State. I tried to register and they told me that I first had to apply as a degree seeking student! What's bizarre was that I was taking this class to complete my BS at UTC - not an AS at the Community College. I ended up fulfilling the requirement with a different class at UTC.

Universities and colleges are bureaucracies. It's just the nature of the beast. Any organization that has to deal with large numbers of "customers" that they have to keep track of closely means lots of paperwork. And registration is always the worst part.

I once wrote a Perl script to monitor the class schedule at UTC to watch for opennings in a class and automatically register me when one popped up. It was quite handy.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-20 10:54:09.201784+00 by: DaveP

Back when I was going to UMN, everything was still (at least from the students' POV) paper-based. And to register for many classes (missing pre-reqs, full class, restricted to a certain major, etc), required an override.

Once I'd switched my advisor from the Math department to Physics, I discovered the solution to registration hassles: overrides consisted of a form available to department secretaries, run through a credit-card imprinter with a department stamp and your student ID. Some talked of building or buying their own imprinter, but the easy solution was for a bunch of us to befriend the department secretary (with our advisor's help).

Once that bit of social engineering was done, I never had a problem registering for a course in any of my four sophomore years that followed.

As for the four sophomore years thing, prices went up by about 40% when you "achieved" junior status. For some reason I failed in that achievement for far longer than anyone thought I should be able to.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-23 01:07:57.959137+00 by: concept14

Boy, I've forgotten most of that from my long-ago college experiences, but DaveP is right: department secretaries hold great power.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-25 18:54:01.322738+00 by: polly

well, today it's a little/lot easier at UTC. get advisement code from advisor. log into UTC website/student information. log in student ID number. click on add/drop/enroll. follow directions. exit out.

i remember THOSE days at chatt state/76. i learned real quick not to get high during the lunch break with the "gang". the mind did NOT function fast enough to answer professor's questions. it was embarrassing.

good luck, nancy!