Author Topic: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures  (Read 2798 times)

fast_and_bulbous

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2019, 03:33:30 PM »
Here's one I just heard about from a friend, though thankfully not my university.

Problem: Unethical student downloads an MS-Word copy of a syllabus from a course website and alters a course policy to try to claim an advantage in a grade appeal process. The deception is discovered quickly based on the document editing history and the "official" syllabus on file with the department.

Administrative Solution: Faculty are "strongly discouraged" from posting syllabi in MS-Word format.

That's not actually a bad idea. It's trivial to print stuff out as PDF which is much harder to mangle. Unless I want someone to edit it, all my documents are PDFs for that reason.
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pepsi_alum

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2019, 07:27:51 PM »
It's not a hill I'd be willing to die on either. I guess my issue with it is that it's the student who was in the wrong, not the faculty member involved.

polly_mer

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2019, 07:35:07 PM »
Here's one I just heard about from a friend, though thankfully not my university.

Problem: Unethical student downloads an MS-Word copy of a syllabus from a course website and alters a course policy to try to claim an advantage in a grade appeal process. The deception is discovered quickly based on the document editing history and the "official" syllabus on file with the department.

Administrative Solution: Faculty are "strongly discouraged" from posting syllabi in MS-Word format.

That's not actually a bad idea. It's trivial to print stuff out as PDF which is much harder to mangle. Unless I want someone to edit it, all my documents are PDFs for that reason.

Harder, but not impossible if the PDF is still text and not an image.
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Diogenes

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2019, 03:34:00 PM »
All the student needs is a knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite and a license (which they likely have via your school) to change a pdf regardless of how it's set up. Source: I just asked my partner who is a graphic designer.

writingprof

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #19 on: August 26, 2019, 05:14:11 PM »
In general, the administrative solution to under-performing colleagues is to take the work they are failing to do and give it to someone who consistently exceeds performance requirements for that task/role.  I am currently the victim of that in an advising situation--she didn't do her job, so now the student is mine.  No reduction in advisees, by the way, except for under-performing colleague.

This is one case in which the corporate response is superior: Push the under-performing colleague to perform, and if failure happens, terminate the under-performing colleague's employment.

signed, someone who's been handling tasks as a substitute for under-performing colleagues above and below me for nearly my entire career

Yes, I'm dealing with this, as well.  Dr. Sloppy can't be bothered to handwrite notes and doesn't understand the advising software.  Thus, hu's advisees come to the rest of us in tears, rightly afraid that hu will screw around and delay their graduation. 

fast_and_bulbous

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2019, 06:54:20 PM »
All the student needs is a knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite and a license (which they likely have via your school) to change a pdf regardless of how it's set up. Source: I just asked my partner who is a graphic designer.

Yeah yeah I know I have all the Adobe stuff as well.

Harder as in... harder!

You could also make the PDF un-editable with their encryption stuff. Which is also probably breakable and much harder.

Carry on...
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Diogenes

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #21 on: September 04, 2019, 04:24:54 PM »
Sorry to dredge the syllabus editing up again but, hey if the president can do it with just a sharpie...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/politics/trump-appears-to-show-sharpie-altered-hurricane-map/2019/09/04/5969d0e1-e5dd-4445-9476-62dec2b34eaa_video.html

ergative

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #22 on: September 05, 2019, 12:00:07 AM »
Sorry to dredge the syllabus editing up again but, hey if the president can do it with just a sharpie...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/politics/trump-appears-to-show-sharpie-altered-hurricane-map/2019/09/04/5969d0e1-e5dd-4445-9476-62dec2b34eaa_video.html

I mean, can he, though? Because we're all joking about the attempt, and no one for an instant is evening believing the intended deception.

Anyway (back to academia), surely the document actually posted on the CMS will trump whichever doctored version a student tries to come up with. If IT can show that there's been no record of any edits to the posted syllabus since it was posted, then the professor should be covered.

Parasaurolophus

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #23 on: September 05, 2019, 11:42:56 AM »
Here's a classic. The admin decided that the best way to balance local and international students in our classes would be to lower the course caps. New international students get earlier registration tickets, so the idea was that they'd fill up the lower-capped courses, and then local students would get waitlisted. Local students would then have to show up in person to get offered a seat from the waitlist, because the admin didn't want faculty controlling these waitlists.

So that's what they did. But (1) they lowered the course caps inconsistently, so that some sections of the same course went from a cap of 35 to 19, others down to 22, some 34, etc., (2) they implemented the lower caps after students had already been registering for the courses, and they mostly implemented caps lower than the current number of registered students, and (3) it broke the registration system entirely.

It broke the registration system because the system no longer sends out offers of seats to waitlisted students as students drop, because the courses are now enrolled at above their new, artificially low cap. So the course shows as full. But the waitlists are huge, and faculty can't make offers, and students have to go in in person to get those offers. And it's the start of the semester now, and it still hasn't been fully resolved, because IT and registration don't know how to increase the course caps. Oh, and did I mention that a ton of students are withdrawing entirely because the system tells them they can't have any courses at all? This is a big deal, because they're all local, and the university has been hemorrhaging local students for years now. It's almost at a point of crisis, where it will significantly impact its funding from the province.

There's a lot more to this story, including a lot more screwing up (including in other, related areas), but that will do for now.

Sigh.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2019, 11:48:15 AM by Parasaurolophus »
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pepsi_alum

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #24 on: September 09, 2019, 11:42:34 AM »
Parasaurolophus, one of my former employers tried something similar, only with international students as the group who needed to be added through the waitlist. The results were a disaster, and it more often than not resulted in international students adding classes that were completely inappropriate for their declared major and/or English proficiency level. And the international student advising office would become furious with any faculty who expressed concerns. I left that job before anything got sorted out.

ab_grp

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #25 on: September 09, 2019, 02:03:39 PM »
I will add one, thought it's not as bad as some of the others listed here! I'm still not sure what to make of this one.  Some brain trust decided to change the back up system to [cloud site] from the previously secure method.  So, all files must be synced to that site or will be lost, and external drives are not allowed.  But, no confidential data may be stored on that cloud site.  So, confidential files are in danger of disappearing, as are any interim data sets based on analyses of confidential data, etc.  I've brought it up several times, but... crickets.  Should be interesting given the computer failures we've been having.  Luckily confidential data are not typically important.

science.expat

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #26 on: September 09, 2019, 06:21:29 PM »
I will add one, thought it's not as bad as some of the others listed here! I'm still not sure what to make of this one.  Some brain trust decided to change the back up system to [cloud site] from the previously secure method.  So, all files must be synced to that site or will be lost, and external drives are not allowed.  But, no confidential data may be stored on that cloud site.  So, confidential files are in danger of disappearing, as are any interim data sets based on analyses of confidential data, etc.  I've brought it up several times, but... crickets.  Should be interesting given the computer failures we've been having.  Luckily confidential data are not typically important.

That’s completely insane! How high have you escalated this?

ab_grp

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #27 on: September 10, 2019, 08:46:47 AM »
I will add one, thought it's not as bad as some of the others listed here! I'm still not sure what to make of this one.  Some brain trust decided to change the back up system to [cloud site] from the previously secure method.  So, all files must be synced to that site or will be lost, and external drives are not allowed.  But, no confidential data may be stored on that cloud site.  So, confidential files are in danger of disappearing, as are any interim data sets based on analyses of confidential data, etc.  I've brought it up several times, but... crickets.  Should be interesting given the computer failures we've been having.  Luckily confidential data are not typically important.

That’s completely insane! How high have you escalated this?

Not high enough, I guess, despite my efforts.  And, there are actually more aspects to it that are insaner and insaner.  I have a plan, though! In the meantime, we will live in bizarro world.

Aster

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #28 on: September 10, 2019, 10:39:46 AM »
I believe that many colleges are choosing to replace their internal servers with 3rd party, offsite cloud-based servers. I have not heard of anyone doing this for anything other than saving money, however.

Outsourcing essential college services is a lose-lose for the college in my personal experience. When you lose direct control, you lose direct oversight, you lose transparency, and (eventually) you lose accountability. It doesn't matter if it's parking lots, cafeterias, janitorial workers, CMS, textbooks, etc... Outsourcing is the lazy man's way to operate the Academy.

Diogenes

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Re: Administrative Problem-Solving Failures
« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2019, 06:40:12 AM »
I believe that many colleges are choosing to replace their internal servers with 3rd party, offsite cloud-based servers. I have not heard of anyone doing this for anything other than saving money, however.

Outsourcing essential college services is a lose-lose for the college in my personal experience. When you lose direct control, you lose direct oversight, you lose transparency, and (eventually) you lose accountability. It doesn't matter if it's parking lots, cafeterias, janitorial workers, CMS, textbooks, etc... Outsourcing is the lazy man's way to operate the Academy.

Classic move in government. It's also a way to make it look like you are trimming fat within your organization. Even though you may ultimately pay more for the services in the long run since you put a middleman in place who's goal is profit. Who also typically has a non-compete contract. George H.W. Bush did this when he pushed gov't agencies into requirements to outsource X% of their services to contractors. He could then say he "shrunk" the gov't, even though it ends up costing more. Plus, like you said, accountability and oversight ultimately disappears. More contract workers without benefits for example.