Last year, every time you went to the classes server, up popped a quotation: “I wish all my professors used classes v2.” But when the gods wish to punish us, they grant our wishes. I’m not pining away for the old classes server, but is classes v2 really Yale’s Great Leap Forward?
While I hate having to go to the classes server, I need to for just about every class. I’m forced to grind my teeth waiting to log in countless times per day. My Workspace, the default page, gives me the option of learning to chat in Chinese or reading about how Beowulf met the Wiki. No thanks for the Chinese, and I’m sure I’ll learn all I need to know about Beowulf from the movie.
The job of our powerful and robust classes server is to provide access to the syllabus, announcements and resources. This doesn’t seem like an especially complex operation.
But what would I know? I dropped computer science. Maybe it is incredibly complex and that’s why it takes eons to load a page. A class syllabus is easy to find — but caught in the mire of so many other features that I never use or loathe using.
And why is there a Schedule, Drop Box, Discussion or Chat Room? I took one class that used the classes drop box: It was slightly less convenient than e-mailing the file to my professor, but I suppose it may deter the increasingly common practice of time travel.
Time travel? It has become surprisingly affordable and accessible to college students, as your e-mail’s timestamp comes from your easily manipulable system clock which goes undetected by the classes V2. 4:00 a.m. suddenly becomes midnight and viola, your paper is in on time! Who’s to say when it actually arrived? (Disclaimer: Past, present, and future professors of mine, I have never and will never pull this trick.)
When time games in the Drop Box cease to amuse, I move to the Chat Room, which provides the wonderful opportunity for a moment of ill-judged chat to be immortalized forever: messages are never deleted. Thus, standing alone in the classes chat far too frequently is: “Hey Jimmy, I see you’re also on classes! Isn’t this great? ;-)”
And why must it always say who is currently online? I have nothing to hide with my classes behavior, but it’s still odd to think that Joe Student knows I’m checking the problem set solutions at 3 a.m., a mere eight hours before the exam. Despite the age we live in, this is one area where there is no valid reason for privacy to be violated. I once tried to make the feature useful by calling an acquaintance who was on the classes server the night before the exam, but it turned out he had gone to bed and left his laptop on (STEP and I will be tracking down all who leave laptops on 24/7 and then wonder why they have a 15-minute battery life.)
This brings me to my least favorite but most frequently used features of the classes server: the announcements and resources sections.
For one, announcements have made it increasingly easy for the professor to stuff my inbox. Best of all is when TFs chime in and I get 10 e-mails per day about one class. To tell the truth, I don’t really care about time changes in other sections. Oh, and tried browsing through announcements lately? Clicking on “Next” takes you further in the past while clicking on “Previous” does the opposite.
I’m willing to forgive these breaches in the time-space continuum, but the so-called “resources” section truly takes the cake.
I am currently enrolled in a class with no fewer than 73 random files posted under the general heading “resources.” How are we supposed to find the files we need? I am not singling out this one class. This is just my latest example of how much clutter is wrought by professors and TFs in the classes server. I’ll eventually find the file I need, but I’d rather not have to sort through “Problem Set 1.doc, Second_Prolemb_Set_2.pdf, and pset3.wtf.”
Before anyone wants to coddle professors and say, “Brian, stop picking on older people for not being able to use computers,” I want to submit for the record that I have had multiple professors competently use the classes server and interact with me via e-mail. These people have Ph.D.s. They are smart enough to figure out how to organize files.
Standardizing file names and speeding up the servers on the back end would increase the their accessibility tenfold but would require a system overhaul.
Rather than proposing that we entirely rework classes v2, let us try to make do with minimal change. Eliminate non-essential, clunky options and encourage professors through training to use the server systematically, not haphazardly. Frustrations be gone: A server should do just that — serve.
Brian C. Thompson is a senior in Branford College. His column runs on alternate Wednesdays.