Poll

Should SMNet ban all homework and classroom assignments?

Yes
14 (20.6%)
No
54 (79.4%)

Total Members Voted: 67

Voting closed: May 17, 2010, 02:32 am

Author Topic: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?  (Read 4765 times)

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PSMKay

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Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« on: May 02, 2010, 02:32 am »
I am faced with a dilemma and am seeking the advice from other members of SMNetwork to help guide the direction of the site.

SMNetwork has always been open to stage managers with all levels of experience.  However, certain members have abused the resources available here year after year, creating topics (frequently at the last minute) requesting that members do their homework for them.  I am aware that many other technical resource bulletin boards online do not permit student members at all, and as such I have left means available for such projects to be completed if the students abide by our rules.  I have tried to construct an environment that allows students to get their work done, while also also creating a safe and respectful place for our professional members to discuss the craft in peace.  We have done the best we can to make these rules plainly visible in multiple places around the site.  However, these "hit and run" students continue to visit us, post once with their interview questions, and then never return to let us know the results of their projects nor contribute to the ongoing development of the community.

With a decade of information stored on these boards, there is already plenty of research material available for those who know how to use the search function.  While it does not provide the one-on-one first hand information that many school projects require, it is certainly sufficient and in many cases goes far beyond the scope of the standard student roster of interview questions.  Creative students with some amount of forethought could very easily create a new topic of interest for their research and carry it through their term if they would like to learn something new from our members.  However, it is my opinion that if someone is going to pester a working professional that they have never met before for a classroom project, they should at least pay for dinner first.  ;)

On the flip side, I realize that new stage managers have to come from somewhere.  While many of the SMNet members who are alums of the School of Hard Knocks might discount university theatre programs, one cannot completely deny that they are currently creating the bulk of our intern staffs, our novice pros and our good fresh blood.  We do occasionally get the members who do read the rules and who do respect our members in approaching us for academic help.  I am grateful for them and always happy to see them.  In every class there will be some who do the reading and some who reach for the SparkNotes.  I do not want to shut out the good students entirely on account of some of their less respectful peers.

Bearing this in mind, I would like to know your opinions on banning homework, classroom projects and requests for interviews completely.  This does not necessarily rule out the discussion of stage management from an academic perspective, but it would prohibit all future homework-related postings and allow moderators to delete such postings immediately.

Please contribute your vote to the poll above, and feel free to discuss it below.  Let me know how you think we should proceed.  The poll will remain open until May 17 or so.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2010, 02:40 am by PSMKay »

Mac Calder

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Re: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2010, 03:16 am »
Suprisingly, my vote is not to ban student homework posts carte blanche. Provided the rules are followed and an attempt to research the answer has occured, I am fine with them. What I am not fine with is "I need to interview a stage manger, can someone reply to this post with answers to these questions" then a list of questions that are most likely copied from an assignment, or anything else that has had no effort applied to it (and is generally posted by someone who has logged in for the first time 10 minutes ago because we showed up on google.

There is a lot of valuable knowledge contained in this foum, and sharing it with up-and-comings is great, but it is a community, and communities rely on give and take. I am not saying that a person needs to have an arbitary post count or have been a member for x months, but rather that they have demonstrated that they want to be a member of the community. And of course "I need to interview an SM, answer these questions" posts belong in the bin. Interviews are not just a list of questions, they rely on the interviewer asking a question, getting answers, then using these answers to create more questions, etc etc etc, until the interviewer has a thorough understanding of the topic. IE effort needs to be put in by the interviewer.

loebtmc

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Re: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2010, 04:40 am »
This is not a new discussion for me - every time someone sends in a homework assignment, it's the same questions followed by desperate appeals when folks don't respond, compounded by many on SMNetwork having become tired of repeating their responses over and over again. I think there is plenty of great information available for a student who takes the time to search the site, which is fairly intuitive and blessedly easy to use (this from a relative luddite).

Perhaps it would be smart to have a thread listing the 20 or so questions we always, always are asked - if for no other reason than to help stimulate more original queries. I for one am more likely and willing to respond to someone who clearly has taken the time to wade through what's already here and asks legitimate questions generated by what they've discovered, rather than dealing with those over-generalized standard questions that feel like the student is asking us to do their work for them.

I would even prefer to list the historical responses to those questions on the board, since lifting them will be obvious (especially if those teachers or the student's classmates also go on SMNetwork), rather than continue to have homework assignment after identical homework assignment come through.

 

RuthNY

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Re: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2010, 10:50 am »
I am not in favor of banning all classroom assignments, but I think there should be some limits.  What we, as experienced SM's and long-time Forum members really object to has been clearly stated: answering the same questions, in essay format, over and over again.  Answering these questions fully, really takes a lot more time and thought than one or two paragraphs can justify. That's why Stage Management books exist, after all, because there is so much to say about any subject, and so many different angles of approach to any topic.

So, here are my thoughts:

If a student has the assignment to INTERVIEW Stage Managers and get answers to either assigned or self created questions, I propose they post, as usual, making the request, following the guidelines.  But no SM on this forum should be expected to ever answer more than ONE question for any assignment. When the questions are posted, if we see one we'd like to answer, we send a PM or email to the student letting them know which question we are prepared to answer, and they let us know if that question is taken or still available.

AND, the SM should have the choice to either send them a written answer (as in the past) or to set up a phone session or internet chat with the student to answer the question. This puts the onus on the student to block out time to do their assignment, rather than just using our words and having us take all our time to do their work. Additionally, it puts the onus on them to take notes while we talk about our craft, which for many of us is easier than writing an essay. Again, THEY are really doing the hard work.  Then, if they have followup questions, they can ask right on the spot. Yes, this adds some steps to the process, but ultimately no one feels obligated or taken advantage of, and the student does the bulk of the labor. Personally, I would much rather schedule a 1/2 hour for a phone chat with a student than write a response. The written response will never be fully fleshed out enough. (And, before you all yell at me, I realize I might be alone here, and that many of you would rather craft a written response, on your own time, in the middle of the night.  You would still have that option.) If the student MUST interview one, and only one SM, then the phone idea really is a great option.  That's REALLY an interview, after all!

If the assignment is something other than an interview, then I think it's the student's personal responsibility to research elsewhere, search this site for previous threads, and after that's complete, then post a topic on the board describing the project, steps taken on their own to get the answers, and what ADDITIONAL information might be needed to finish it.

An addendum--the student should be forewarned that they may not get any responses at all from members of this Forum, and they should have an alternate plan!!

Just my 2 cents, take it or leave it!

« Last Edit: May 02, 2010, 10:55 am by RuthNY »
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mnsalz91

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Re: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2010, 06:06 pm »
I'm finishing up my freshman year at Ithaca College.  I am full of questions and I'm not afraid to ask.  I find that being able to ask my questions on here should not be an issue, even if they have to do with my homework.  On the other hand if there are people asking others to do their homework for them, then I see the issue.  If I'm having trouble and I need some advice from professionals, I'm going to want to ask and not feel as though my questions are unwanted.  Especially because stage management is something that you learn by doing.  Yes there are courses but you can't learn it from a book, I know I've tried.

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Re: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2010, 07:55 pm »
My vote would be to *not* ban...  While I appreciate Kay trying to make sure we aren't innundated by these requests, I guess MY approach would be to do less: let them post their list of questions that their teacher gave them.  And let me ignore it.

Perhaps there could be a board specifically for these questions (not that the student will actually post there since they are drive-by posts anyway, but the moderators can then dump the threads on that board.)  If the questions are well formulated, thoughtful, and seem legit, the student will get answers from those of us who will have helpful information.  If not, the people answering are probably as inexperienced as the OP and it's the blind leading the blind, which will be apparent to the teacher.  (I guess the teachers also gets what they have coming to them for creating such crappy assignments.)  And perhaps the student will see the graveyard of unanswered posts and realize they aren't going to get a response.

*Side note: I'm a HUGE proponent of helping out the younger generation - it's the best way I learned as up-and-coming.  But I also expect the student to put something into it - without, they won't REALLY learn anything and they're the ones who will ultimately suffer. Cheaters never win.*

I feel like the policy should be "Post your questions to X board (or a mod will move it)" And perhaps there's a good place where we can let them know "and don't be surprised if you don't get a response" Anything more than that just feels like it's creating work.  If the OP wants to argue with the moderator that it doesn't belong on the homework board that's fine, but realistically, how many will?

Kay, thank you for taking care of our Belmont student.  Unless the parties both welcome a relationship off the board, I agree that contacting members at their personal emails is not appropriate (whether for homework help or other comments) - We've got inboxes here for that.   But beyond that, I say "Laissez faire"... (Lordy, I feel so Republican...)

gelo141

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Re: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2010, 04:56 pm »
Since the trend with the polling seems to be an overwhelming no, I think that we should come up with a solution the the problem that meets everyone's needs.  I think that I agree with nmno, I think that a Classroom board in the offstage section would be a great place for students to ask and have their questions answered; also that way everything is in a centralized location and no one needs to repeat themselves.
There is really nothing you must be. & there is nothing you must do. There is really nothing you must have. & there is nothing you must know. There is really nothing you must become. However it helps to understand that fire burns, & when it rains . . .

PSMKay

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Re: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2010, 05:02 pm »
I would not say that the trend is overwhelming yet.  The poll has another couple of weeks to go, and we have only seen about 30 votes out of a membership of over 3000.


gelo141

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Re: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2010, 05:29 pm »
Ok, "so early trending in the the polling indicates" . . . 4 to 1 is still pretty significant, if the trending holds true then the answer will be no.  I think that most of the arguments for not banning it are pretty persuasive and feel certain that they will hold a lot of weight with most of the membership.  I should clarify my previous remark by saying that it was intended only to second the notion of creating yet another board; one that could be usefull for student members and maybe everyone else too.  Active professionals are their greatest resource, and we wouldn't turn them away if they came to us and asked to learn from us while we were working in our real venues (as opposed to our virtual one).

Point of information: How many of the membership is student members?  Wouldn't that skew the polling numbers??  Just asking.
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BLee

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Re: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2010, 06:22 pm »
Is it possible to have trial memberships for all new members (not just students)? I know that you can not send PMs until you have posted on the boards, but can we extend that type of regulation to be more restrictive? What if a new member was not allowed to start a new thread until they have posted responses to a certain number of other posts and/or you have to be an active member for a month before being able to start a thread? Or what if someone was assigned to each new member (or one person was the new member liaison of sorts) to guide them in proper use of the boards?

With those types of restrictions it would take time before a student would even be able to start a homework assignment and might push them to either find the information in a more creative manner (like using the search feature) or prevent them from bothering if they are too lazy to meet prior conditions.
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Mac Calder

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Re: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2010, 06:56 pm »
Either that, or some form of premod system - ie until you have 5 posts, all of your posts will require moderator approval, and maybe leave it up to the specific board moderator to decide when a post is too "Do my homework for me" for the board?

missliz

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Re: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2010, 09:29 am »
Another forum I frequent has it set up that if you're a new member, you can't make multiple posts within 5 minutes. Keeps out spammers as well. I know next-to-nothing about how all that works, but it's a nice idea. :)
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Re: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2010, 09:49 pm »
As long as they can follow the rules, I don't see a problem with classroom assignments here.
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dewitt

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Re: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2010, 03:24 pm »
Because I am fairly new to the network I waited a few days before responding. I value the information I have found here and
I agree with those who believe that if we don't educate the new SMs who will? I work with students and answer questions from them on a daily basis. Sometimes they are repeat questions, from the same student. I have guidelines that I expect the students
to follow and I am always willing to help them out but I won't do their work for them. As long as they follow the rules it works fine.
As long as the students who come to this site follow the rules it should be fine. I think the suggestion for an FAQ section is a terrific idea. I have been reading my way through the archives and the older posts section by section. I haven't needed to post any of my own questions because basically all the answers I could need are provided already. The majority of the members are really knowledgeable and willing to help problem solve. I can't thank you all enough for the sense of community and wisdom that I have acquired by joining the network. Certainly it is the moderators and long time members who have had to do most of the work in helping out with these requests from classroom assignments. I would be most willing to trust their judgment as to how we proceed with these requests.

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Re: Should SMNetwork ban all classroom assignments?
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2010, 05:14 pm »
As a student, I would disagree with banning of student projects. Let me explain the reason for this. Not only does this site yield the answers to pretty much anything one could with to know about stage management, but as a student (presumably studying a course where research is an integral part of the educational experience) of stage management, surely it is to the benefit of the student to research first, and then ask questions. After all, we are studying to enter an industry where initiative and the ability to make informed decisions without having to use others as a 'crutch' is an integral part of the job!
So, I am opposed to banning student projects, but in favour of stringently enforcing the regulations already in place, and putting into place some of the methods as suggested above.

 

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