In college, if you have an unpaid balance on your account, the bursar and registrar offices collaborate to block from you from registering for the next semester, you get dropped from your classes, or you won’t be awarded your degree.
This past year has been very difficult for a lot of people because of the pandemic, including some of my students. Some have been infected with COVID-19, some have lost family members, some have lost a job or two (as I did), and others have suffered in other ways that I can’t even imagine. It stands to reason that some students would have fallen behind in paying their college bills.
As part of the last spring’s CARES relief packages, the federal government dispersed funds for colleges and universities, including providing aid for students who might need support.
While CUNY did offer students some support, including providing them with iPads so they could do remote learning, the university has implemented two austerity measures that hurt students:
Students with balances due were purged from their Spring 2021 classes.
CUNY has raised the minimum number of students needed for a class to run, meaning it has reduced the number of classes available for students to take.
The first action causes all kinds of troubles. One Media Studies professor in shared the story of a student who was dropped from their classes and might have their student visa cancelled, which would put the student at risk for deportation. CUNY is cheap so it’s unlikely that the student owes tens of thousands of dollars.
The second action makes it harder for students to graduate in four years. The university has touted its Finish in Four program that largely depends on students taking classes during winter and spring semesters. At Queens College, the college cancelled all of the Media Studies classes this winter semester classes, setting back many students’ progress for finishing their degrees.
The administration just sent around an email proclaiming that CUNY fights for its students. Given how it has shut out students from registering for classes and cutting the number of classes available for them to take, the words ring hollow.
Back in September, a reporter at Cheddar named Antonella Crescimbeni emailed me to ask about the reasons why the movie industry had moved from New Jersey to California. She wanted to interview me for a video—part of the Cheddar Explains series of explainer videos—to learn why the American film industry had migrated from New Jersey to Los Angeles.
We talked over Skype in mid September, and the video was finished and posted to YouTube some time in October. I’m finally getting around to writing about this video.
One of the things Ms. Crescimbeni asked me was whether it was true that US filmmakers moved to Hollywood to escape Edison’s patents and to escape to Mexico if Edison’s lawyers sued filmmakers who might be infringing on his motion picture patents. This has been a widely circulated myth about the move to Hollywood that is almost as old as the movie colony itself. Lewis Jacobs wrote in his 1939 book, The Rise of the American Film: A Critical History that “the safest refuge [from Edison’s trust] was in Los Angeles, from which it was only a hop skip and a jump to the Mexican border and escape from injunctions and subpoenas” (85).
It’s funny how those two parts of the story have persisted, although there’s little truth to that. There are two main reasons why filmmaking moved to Southern California. The first was because of the dry and mild climate that allowed for year-round production. The second reason is because there exists a lot of different terrains close together: a filmmaker could shoot films set in a desert, in the mountains, on a beach, in a city, and at sea. In fact, the other members of Edison’s cartel had filmed in Southern California; it wasn’t just the scofflaws that didn’t license Edison motion picture equipment.
For those wondering how Ms. Crescimbeni found me, she said that she found a lesson plan on my website about the Motion Picture Patents Company (sometimes referred to as “The Trust” or “Edison’s Cartel”) and the Independents who defied this patent pool, making films and then ultimately taking over the whole industry once feature films came to be.
The publishers at Take Control Books have just published a free ebook, Take Control of Zoom Essentials by Glenn Fleishman. You can register to download a free copy as a PDF, EPUB, or version for Kindle. Registering gives you access to updated content as it is released.
This books follows the release of another ebook, Working from Home Temporarily, released for free earlier this spring just as millions of us were dispatched to establish our homes as our workplaces.
The new academic year is upon us, and I suspect that many of us are using Zoom a lot more than we were a year ago: for courses, for meetings, and for webinars. One thing I don’t think we’re using it anymore for is those bothersome “Zoom Happy Hours.” I think that trend died off about a month after the pandemic, or as soon as it was deemed safe for us to gather outside to engage in moderately low-risk distance socializing. It got old really fast.
If you’re new to Zoom or, if you’re like me, and took the summer off from any and all videoconferencing software, this seems like a good introduction or refresher.
Here’s a few “tidbits” of trivia related to the book. Take Control Books was started by the folks who founded and have been publishing the Apple news website and newsletter TidBITs for over thirty years. However, they have since sold the imprint to another company since then. And although I don’t know Glenn Fleishman personally, he’s a respected figure in tech and nerdy circles for, among other things, winning on Jeopardy!… twice.
Pardon the dust around here… it’s been a very busy time for me as the COVID-19 pandemic put a whole lot of extra work on me in terms of class preparation. It robbed me of any desire to sit in front of a computer to post to this site.
I’m sorry. I hope you’ll take me back,
When we went to remote instruction, the administration at Pratt and at CUNY recommended that we turn our courses from live, in-person classes to asynchronous, remote classes—with a short, synchronous weekly session via Zoom or Google Meet.
The spring semester ended about two months ago, but since then I have been teaching two online classes for Queens College in their two summer sessions—Summer 1 in June, and Summer 2 in July.
This is not my first time teaching online, remote classes. Indeed, I have been teaching online sections of Media Technologies and Contemporary Media for a few years now, both in summer and winter sessions. But given what I learned over the last few months, during our emergency switch to remote learning, I thought it best to revise my courses given what I learned in the spring term.
My goals for the summer courses were basically to…
revise the structure of my syllabi to make it easier to find information
break up the recorded video lectures into shorter segments,
in the case of Contemporary Media, assign an open educational resource textbook to save my students—some of whom are food insecure—some money.
For these courses, I have spent an average of six to eight hours working on each module. Since each course has twelve modules, I spent the equivalent of a full-time job working on these courses since early June.
Revising the syllabus was pretty easy. I moved away from the traditional calendar-based schedule to one structured along learning modules. Each module had the same three elements as my previous courses: a textbook reading, a narrated-slideshow lecture recording, and a quiz. But this time I listed each task under each module as “assignments.” You can see an example of this on my Media Technologies syllabus. I hope it was easier for students to figure out their assignments.
The one textbook that seemed useful for either of this summer’s courses was Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication. You can get a copy from the Open Textbook Library. I really liked that it was available in many different formats, including PDF and EPUB, and that you could read it on the web using nothing more than a browser. However, what really made this textbook difficult to use was that it was last updated in 2009.
Since the textbook was woefully out of date, I had to use the lectures to update the outdated information from the book. For example, there are no longer is a Big Four recording music conglomerates nor is there a Big Six movie conglomerates. In the case of music, EMI was absorbed by Universal Music Group and Warner Music with Sony Music as the third conglomerate standing. And in the case of the movie industry, Disney acquired Fox in 2019 for $71 billion, leaving only five major conglomerates.
Because I was using a textbook I hadn’t used before, I had write new reading quizzes from scratch. This took about an hour per module, but outlining each lecture, preparing each slideshow, and then recording each module’s screencast took an additional six to seven hours a day.
Today, I posted the videos for the last module of the two summer sessions. As a “victory lap” of sorts, I compiled a few numbers from the two classes I taught this summer.
6h 31m 46s
6h 35m 15s
13h 7m 1s
Average Slides per Module
Average Slides per Video
Average TRT per Module
Average TRT Per Video
The biggest reason I wanted to break up the lecture into shorter segments was to make the videos about six minutes each. Previously, each module’s lecture was about 20 minutes long. Based on the numbers, it looks like I failed. Each video for Media Technologies averaged about 8 ½ minutes, and each video for Contemporary Media averaged about 7 ¾ minutes.
However, I have to give myself credit for consistency. The total running time of all the recorded videos for each class were surprising close: 6 hours 31 minutes for Media Technologies versus 6 hours 35 minutes and Contemporary Media. And I also used a very similar number of slides: 608 in the case of Media Technologies and 593 in the case of Contemporary Media.
This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. I could receive a referral commission if you buy something through those links.
In the Age of the Virus, I’ve been teaching remotely. This has given me two new tasks that require decent audio: video conferencing and recording classes at home. I would never call myself an audiophile, but for whatever reason, bad low-fidelity audio bothers me. At the risk of sounding like a snob, I want to do better.
Over the years, I’ve accumulated a bunch of different ways of recording sound on my computer, and I thought it would be fun to test each of them to see how they preformed.
I used the following six microphones for this test:
The internal microphone of my MacBook Pro,
AirPods connected wireless via Bluetooth,
EarPods connecting deprecated mini-plug via the headphone jack in my MacBook Pro,
The microphone that dangles from a pair of AKG K545 headphones,
Blue Snowball condenser microphone, discontinued by the manufacturer, that I set on my desk,
the very popular Blue Yeti USB condenser microphone with an attached pop filter.
I couldn’t try one of my oldest microphones—a Blue Snowball. I left that at my office at NYU, inside Bobst Library, and the entire building is inaccessible to non-essential employees like myself.
For each recording, I used Sound Studio for Mac and recording using an early 2015 13-inch MacBook Pro. (Yes, the one that many considered to be the last great MacBook Pro until Apple came out with last year’s 16-inch model.) I did some slight editing on each recording: I trimmed my reading of each sentence, inserted a half-second of silence between each sentence, and normalized the sound. I did the latter to control for loudness; most of us are biased to think that louder sound is a better sound.
I read aloud the following ten Harvard Sentences into each microphone. I used “List 5” from this list of Harvard Sentences for those who want to reproduce this test at home. For the most part, I read the phrases as written, although I did flub a couple of them. The sentences are…
A king ruled the state in the early days.
The ship was torn apart on the sharp reef.
Sickness kept him home the third week.
The wide road shimmered in the hot sun.
The lazy cow lay in the cool grass.
Lift the square stone over the fence.
The rope will bind the seven books at once.
Hop over the fence and plunge in.
The friendly gang left the drug store.
Mesh wire keeps chicks inside.
Here are the results of testing each microphone.
MacBook Pro early-2015, Internal Microphone
This is the most convenient way of recording sound on a Mac. It requires nothing more than the Mac itself. The result is pretty solid.
One thing to consider is that I wasn’t using my speaker. I always find it annoying to hear feedback on conference calls that noticeably degrade the sound quality.
AirPods, Handsfree via Bluetooth
Apple’s AirPods is one of my favorite devices. Before All This Happened, I used my AirPods on a daily basis, listening to music and podcasts as I walked around town. But as we are all staying home as much as possible, I’ve been using them a lot less.
Using AirPods for phone calls—over the cellular network or VOIP—is unmatched in terms of its convenience. It doesn’t require your hands and don’t have a wire to get in the way. You don’t even have to have your device on your person—as long as it’s not too far for the Bluetooth radio. This is probably why you see late night TV hosts and some newscasters use AirPods to record themselves.
However, in terms of sound fidelity, they fared the worst.
It sounds like I’m talking through a machine—as it doesn’t sample enough of my sound—or if it used a lossy compression algorithm at a very low bitrate.
I was surprised that it was actually worse than recording through using the MacBook Pro’s internal microphone. I learned back in college that even the worst external microphone was still better than using the on-board microphone in my field recorder because the recorder makes some noise that will be on the recording.
To be fair, I think the poor sound has to do with my Mac. Listening to music on my AirPods doesn’t sound as good playing from my Mac as it does playing from an iOS device, such as an iPhone or a iPad.
Wired EarPods with a Mini-Plug
I actually have a couple of pairs of these EarPods lying around. They might be from my iPhone 6 (2014) and maybe even my iPhone 5 (2012). I used these instead of the newer ones that came with my iPhone 11 Pro because I can connect these to my MacBook Pro.
The sounds was also pretty solid—good depth and warmth—and it didn’t sound compressed like the AirPods. It also sounds marginally better than “going bareback” on my MacBook Pro.
AKG K545 Headphones, Handsfree Wired
In late-2014, I was engaging in some retail therapy and listening to a lot of sad music, and these headphones were the result of that.
I expected these would fare better than the EarPods simply because they’re more expensive than EarPods. But they capture more of the room echo than the EarPods.
Again, to be fair, these are primarily headphones for listening—not microphones for recording. As far as headphones sound, they’re pretty good, but are heavy. And because they have a closed-back design, they isolate ambient noise. A lot of people prefer these kinds of headphones, but I don’t. I get fatigued wearing them for any substantial period of time.
Blue Snowflake on My Desk
The Blue Snowflake is a portable USB microphone. Despite its small size, it’s a great little microphone that I picked up at the end of 2009. It is meant to sit on a desk or clipped to a computer monitor to provide better sound during voice conference calls and for field recording. It is an omnidirectional microphone so it captures a lot of other sounds. This is good if you are in the audience and want to record a lecture or a band playing live.
I really like how it sounds. It doesn’t seem to get too much of the room echo while still clearly recording my voice.
Again, recording voice from a person speaking nearby is exactly what the Snowflake was designed to do. It performed great.
Blue Yeti with Pop Filter
I expected this to make the best recording, and it did. The Blue Yeti is a very popular USB microphone. It is marketed to podcasters who don’t want to mess around with a XLR cables and a USB preamp. It’s been a while since I bought this microphone, but I think I bought the Yeti because I like the design of Blue microphones. They just look cool.
I also added a basic pop filter to this microphone to cut down on the popping Ps and other noises when you make when speaking close to the microphone.
The sound here is terrific. There is no room echo, largely because I’m speaking into the microphone. The recording has high fidelity: my voice sounds like it should if I were in the room with you.
Of course, the Blue Yeti performed best of all the microphones I have on hand. It is meant to record podcasters and other spoken word, and it does this really well.
The other microphones were more interesting. Honestly, I was surprised how well the built-in microphone in my MacBook Pro worked. For this you don’t need anything, and it records quite well. I think that if I were using the built-in MacBook Pro microphone for videoconferencing or VOIP, I would I use a set of headphones to prevent the feedback.
In fact, I think it would be useful to use the configure AirPods for sound output but use the internal microphone for sounds recording. This way you can have the convenience of wireless earphones and a decent microphone.
But, of course, in the Age of the Virus, no one expect studio-quality sound.
CUNY surprised a lot of people—myself included—when I received an SMS alert indicating that CUNY would be observing a “Recalibration Period.” The message, delivered by the same system is used for statewide emergencies and for Notify NYC, reads as follows:
S: CUNYAlert – CUNY has instituted a Recalibration Period for Educational Equity CUNY has instituted a Recalibration Period for Educational Equity, beginning this Friday, March 27, through Wednesday April 1. Distance learning will resume on Thursday, April 2. The University’s previously scheduled Spring Recess will run from April 8-10. There are numerous exceptions, visit CUNY’s coronavirus page for details, and your college’s website for campus-specific information.
The Recalibration Period for Educational Equity is to allow CUNY colleges to identify and provide computing devices to students who do not have access to computers at home to continue with remote instruction. Many CUNY students live below the poverty line—some are even “food insecure”—and it is important that we ensure every student has access to the necessary technology for continuing their studies.
The “recalibration” period will run from Friday, March 27 through Wednesday, April 1; remote instruction will resume on Thursday, April 2. To make up for the lost instruction days, CUNY cut Spring Break from over a week—April 8–16—to three days—April 8 to 10.
In addition to emergency alert, I also received emails about the “recalibration period” from the following College officers:
When I learned about the recalibration period, I was peeved having to redo the schedule for my courses…again! I was also concerned that my students would confuse my students who are already disillusioned with continuing their students in this stressful time.
A few hours later, I received a message from my department chair regarding the recalibration period. She explained that she had consulted with the Dean of Faculty and decided that we faculty should “ignore” the directives about the recalibration period. This message specifically referenced the chancellor’s and provost’s messages.
The latter message from the Provost is clear about observing this recalibration period: “This recalibration period is not optional. No instruction is to take place during this period: please don’t schedule tests or due-dates for assignments.”
This is conflicting information. What would you do?
After giving it some thought and sleeping on it, I have decided today to observe the recalibration period. Here’s why.
Rank. While I was never in the military, or anything of the sort, I am aware of the pecking order of university and college officials: Chancellor > College President > Provost > Dean > Department Chair. With all due respect, rank dictates that I observe the directives of the higher officials than those of the dean or my department chair.
Equity. A week ago, at the beginning of the remote instructional period, I circulated surveys to my students, asking whether they received my messages about my plans for remote instruction. The survey had another purpose: to test whether students could access course materials remotely. If a student could access the survey, they could access the course materials on Google Classroom. In my Media Criticism class of twenty students, seven have not completed the survey. And in my History of Cinema class of fifty-nine (59) credit-earning (non-auditing) students, eighteen (18) have not completed the survey. In all, almost a third of my students (32%) have not completed the simple task of completing a one-question, online survey in the course of a week. This doesn’t bode well for them to complete other more complex, online assignments. I really hope CUNY and Queens College doesn’t squander this period to identify students who don’t have access to the requisite technology—and to provide them with the necessary tools.
“Asynchronicity”. As I described in my earlier post about remote instruction, I mentioned that most of my course activities would be asynchronous. I plan to keep that mode because it allows students more flexibility to participate in the course and to complete assignments.
Even with these reasons, I am conflicted about this recalibration period. I don’t like the idea of interrupting the semester—a second time after last week’s instructional recess—because it is disruptive to teaching and learning. I’m also concerned that the university and the college have not communicated their plans for identifying students-in-need and providing them with the necessary tools for remote learning. The administration could very well squander this recalibration period without addressing the needs of our neediest students.
At the risk of minor insubordination, I’ve updated the syllabi for my Media Criticism and my History of Cinema 2 courses to reflect the revised schedule in the age of recalibration.
With the spread of COVID-19 into a global pandemic (thanks Trump!), all of my jobs are transitioning to remote instruction. CUNY Queens College remote classes go live on Thursday, March 19, and my classes at Pratt Institute are due to restart online on March 30. At NYU, where I am an hourly, contractor, we’ve been told to work from home until further notice.
As a knowledge worker, I am lucky that I can still work and earn money in this disrupted environment. My 2015 MacBook Pro works as good as it did five years ago, I have fiber-optic Internet at home, and, should I need to travel, my unlimited mobile data plan includes tethering. I also have a good USB mic for recording lectures.
For some techno-utopians, this might seem like the realization of a long-awaited reality: the mass-adoption of telecommuting and of online education. But as I think we’re all learning, transitioning to remote work and to distance learning is incredibly difficult and will certainly be less effective than being at work and at school.
I can’t offer much advice on remote working. I’m literally going through on-the-job training in that department. However, I can offer some advice on online teaching. I’ve taught many iterations of two online courses for years, namely Contemporary Media and Media Technologies during the summer and winter sessions, and here’s what I’m doing for my current classes in the age of the virus.
Just Google It
For years, I’ve been cool to using Google products. But I use Google Classroom and G Suite for assignments for a couple of reasons. First, Google Classroom doesn’t have too many features, and thus it is still pretty easy to use. For example, it’s a lot simpler than the bloatware that is Blackboard. Second, Google’s apps are what my students will encounter in the “real” world. Or, at least, these apps work like the ones other companies uses, such as Office 365. No one is going to use Blackboard or Moodle once they leave school.
Change How You Teach
Was your in-person class a three-hour lecture? Don’t run your online class with you talking to a webcam for three hours! That’s a sure way to have students do something else while you lecture, thus defeating the purpose of having the class in the first place.
You’ll have to deconstruct your class into parts. Some will have to become asynchronous, and some can remain synchronous. Let’s go through the two.
Asynchronous activities are those that are done on the student’s own timeline, not at a specific date and time. However, in order to keep students on task, you should require students to complete activities by a certain deadline.
You already assign readings from a textbook, a journal article, or something posted on the Internet. Think of other material that may complement those readings.
For example, as I teach film classes, I will assign one or two more critical essays each week that are available through EBSCO, JSTOR, or whatever databases your university subscribes. There are also some that you can access on a newspaper’s or magazine’s website, and there are other good readings on the open web. It is up to you, of course, to review and validate their value.
For years, online teachers have evangelized the idea of the flipped classroom. In this model, you record your lecture ahead of time and have the students watch it on their own. It’s called “flipped” because you do some other activity—group work, discussion sessions, a lab, etc.—during the class time, instead of having the professor lecture at the class. In the age of virus, there won’t be an in-class session for the “other activity.”
The most important lesson I’ve learned over the years is to compress the lecture into something much shorter than you normally do in-person. My two-hour lectures, for example, become twenty-minute presentations. Because you’re not interacting with students and checking if they understand you, you can proceed a lot faster. Students can pause and restart the lecture, as well review and rewind as they see fit.
There’s some art to crafting effective slides for this medium. That only comes with practice.
Three of my four classes this semester are film classes which have screenings. I still want students to watch the films we had planned for the semester, but having them watch them on their own is tricky.
In the old days, we would have students watch films by requesting the titles from the reserve desk at the library. However, since we’re social distancing as much as possible, it would make sense for students to stream the titles online. And that is where things get tricky because each option comes with its own complications.
Pick a streaming service that students can subscribe to, such as The Criterion Channel, and assign films from their collection. Subscriptions for The Criterion Channel, for example, are available on a monthly basis for $10.99 and yearly basis for $99.99.
Point students to titles available for rent or purchase through Amazon, iTunes, or Google Play.
If your institution or local library has a generous license to Kanopy, you can use that option to assign films from this collection.
Some of these options might be unaffordable for many students. After all, I have about six to seven weeks of the semester remaining. That’s a lot of films for students to rent or buy. And in the case of certain institutions, Kanopy might be too expensive. That’s why the New York Public Library did not renew its Kanopy subscription.
For essays, I’ve posted a Google Classroom assignment with an attached Google Doc that students must use to write their essays. You can configure it so there’s a copy for each student. I wouldn’t call grading essays “easy,” but you can comment on essays and return the work within the Google Docs—Google Classroom environment.
It works only if you require students to use Google Docs. Sometimes, they don’t observe that rule and upload a Microsoft Word document, a PDF, or even an Open Office document. Unfortunately, none of these work for commenting in Google Classroom, and you have to make students resubmit the assignment correctly.
Google Forms allows you to make quizzes. If you do objective questions and provide an answer key, the “robot” will grade the questions for you. Otherwise, you can grade subjective questions manually.
I prefer not to use Google Quiz for subjective questions. Students cannot save their responses to complete their work later. They have to finish it in one sitting.
As I mentioned earlier, students can’t save their progress in Google Forms. Instead, I prefer to write questions in Google Docs. Students write their responses below the question. I grade the responses by using commenting feature in Google Docs. Then I add up their points, record the score, and return the assignment.
Google Classroom allows you to use rubrics, but I hate rubrics so I don’t use this feature.
Synchronous activities are those that are done at a specific date and time, either with the entire class, with groups of students, or one-on-one sessions with an individual student.
For the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester, I am scheduling an hourlong discussion section for each of my classes. We are hosting these on Google Meet, which normally allows for 100 simultaneous participants. But in the age of the virus, they increased that limit to 250 participants.
Since 2016, I have been using the self-scheduling appointment slots feature in Google Calendar. I use these so students can sign up for in-person office hours, although they can also schedule remote appointments through Google Meet.
In the age of the virus, all meetings will be remote and held through Google Meet. Students who sign up for an appointment will receive a confirmation email of their appointment. The email—and the entry in the student’s Google Calendar—contains a link to the Video Call and a phone number (with a PIN) to join the call by telephone.
Generally, I only use the audio-only feature of Google Meet, but in case you want to present something to a student, it makes sense to use the desktop web browser or the mobile apps to do this.
Need More Help?
If you’re interesting in learning more about transitioning your course to online, remote instruction, get in touch with me on the Contact page. We can discuss a plan that could work for you.
The above link to Amazon is an affiliate link. If you buy something that link, I will earn a commission fee.
All of my classes use a number of different assignments to calculate a student’s final grade. In some classes, all of the assessments—assignments and exams—are weighted equally. But most of the time, each assessment carries a different weight. Here’s how to calculate grades for both cases…
Assessments with Equal Weights
This is really easy. To calculate your final grade, simply average all the scores.
Make all scores percentages—out of 100 points—by dividing your score by the total number of points. For example, if you earned a 12 points on assessment with a total 15 possible points, your score is 12/15 = 80/100 = 80 points.
Average the percentages. If you’ve earned 80, 90, 82, 72, and 78 on five assessment, the average is calculated by adding the scores and diving that sum by 5 (the number of assessment): 80+90+82+72+78 = 402, then divide 402 by 5. The result in this example is 80.2.
Your final grade would be 80.2% or a low B letter grade.
Assessments with Different Weights
This requires multiplying each assessment score by the weighted percentage and then adding those results.
Make all scores percentages—out of 100 points—by dividing your score by the total number of points. For example, if you earned a 12 points on assessment with a total 15 possible points, your score is 12/15 = 80/100 = 80 points. The table above includes the scores already computed as percentages.
Multiply the scores by the weight of each assessment. For example, for Reading Quizzes in the table above, multiply the score 92 by 25%—which is 92 x .25 = 23 points. Do this for each assessment.
Add the points together. In the above example, the result is 23+13.2+16.8+18+16 = 87.
Your final grade is 87% which is a high B letter grade.
How to Calculate Your Grade in the Middle of the Semester
If you want to know your grade before you’ve finished all the assessment, you can project your grade based on the work you’ve completed. Using the table above, let’s say that you know the scores for the first three assessments, but not the essay or the final exam.
Multiply the scores by the weight of each assessment.
Add the points for the assessment you’ve completed. This would be 23+13.2+16.8 = 53 points.
Add the weights together for the assessments you’ve completed. For the first three assessments, the weights are 25+15+20 = 60.
Divide your earned points by sum of the weights of assessments you’ve completed. In this example, it would 53 / 60 = .883333…, or 88.333 / 100, 88.33%.
Your grade at this point is a 88.33% or a high B letter grade.
Jody Rosen writes about the value of a master recording:
The master contains the record’s details in their purest form: the grain of a singer’s voice, the timbres of instruments, the ambience of the studio. It holds the ineffable essence that can only truly be apprehended when you encounter a work of art up-close and unmediated, or as up-close and unmediated as the peculiar medium of recorded sound permits. “You don’t have to be Walter Benjamin to understand that there’s a big difference between a painting and a photograph of that painting,” [Andy Zax, a Grammy-nominated producer and writer who works on reissued recordings], said in his conference speech. “It’s exactly the same with sound recordings.”
Of course, I have students in my media criticism class read Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” each semester. And though they groan and complain, this passing reference to Benjamin’s hallmark essay reaffirms my decision to assign it.
If nothing else, it allows me to teach students the precise meaning of words in an essay that is different from their colloquial understanding. Case in point: aura.
Show a film in the basement of a century-old library and the filmmaker dies.
This might resemble the premise of a horror movie, but it’s something that actually happened last Thursday after I screened Agnès Varda’s 1962 film, Cléo from 5 to 7 in class last week. The doyenne of the French New Wave passed away last Friday at the age of 90.
My History of Film class at Pratt Institute meets in the basement of the Pratt Brooklyn library. The library was built in 1896 and is a pretty exquisite building. It is one of the oldest buildings at the Clinton Hill campus, and it features Tiffany stained glass throughout the building. Another ornate feature is that the book spine labels in the stacks are handwritten in a pretty distinct yet clearly standard style.
When our class met this past Thursday, a student remarked that he had heard that Varda had died, and it struck him that he was familiar with her work due to our screening Cléo in class days earlier. The timing was eery for him and for me.
This past week’s class involved a survey of eight American experimental films, and sensitive to the timing of Varda’s death, I noticed that of the eight films, the filmmakers of seven had already died. These are the films and the filmmakers:
Charles Sheeler Paul Strand
Meshes of the Afternoon
Bridges Go Round
As you can see in this list, of the films I screened on Thursday, only Scorpio Rising‘s filmmaker Kenneth Anger remains alive today.
Being a superstitious fellow, I worried that we would somehow curse Kenneth Anger. He is far from a young man, aged 92 years old and as old as Scorpio Rising is, he actually completed his first film in 1947.
So far, forty-eight hours after our class, Anger appears to be alive, and I wish him many more years.