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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Dean of Education's Response to my Feedback and Blog

I recently got an email from the dean of education. Essentially he says that I'm annoying:

Dear Mr. Spencer

 It has come to my attention that you have written repeatedly to our Associate Dean, among others across the university, about technology issues in the Faculty of Education, and also about your own blog.  Please note that, while we recognize the importance of technology in contemporary society,  we do not share your views, and have no comments to add to your discussion.

Best regards

-----------------------------------------------------------
Dilson E. Rassier, Ph.D.
Professor and Dean, Faculty of Education
McGill University

Yes, I have been emailing the department. But he makes it sound like I've been acting inappropriately. You decide:
  • I emailed the same feedback to nine administrators individually, and a month later I called them out on the fact that every single one of them ignored me. I didn't even get a "thanks for your feedback" from anyone.
  • I emailed a professor about his textbook and got a response.
  • After Elizabeth Wood was delegated the task of responding to me, I emailed her about the popularity of one of my new posts, hoping she would take me more seriously.
Too much? No. I'm just a student trying to start a dialogue with a public institution. That must seem unusual to them.

We Do Not Share Your Views
Here are some of my views:
So how is it possible that the dean of education "does not share my views"? Really? None of them? Here's what's really happening here:
  • Obviously, the dean shares some of my views.
  • He has hardly read anything I've written.
  • Elizabeth Wood and Dilson Rassier are tired of me and wish I'd go away.
I don't mean to be immodest, but this post got 40,000 views in a couple days. And education is admittedly not the internet's sexiest topic. So I think this many views is a big deal! Hundreds (thousands?) of people joined my discussion about McGill by writing comments (like here and here and elsewhere).

What Should Happen
A responsible dean should jump on the chance to engage this many people. Instead he cut me off because he thinks he can get away with it. Dr Rassier: please spend an hour, read what we're saying, find out why it's so damn popular, craft a decent response, and take action. Anything less proves that either:
  • You don't care about the world's perception of McGill. Or:
  • You don't grasp the scale of social media.
What Next?
The tone of Dilson Rassier's email was not lost on me. I won't be reaching out to the education department any more. But what about you? If you care, complain. It can be as easy as sending an email (use your school email to guarantee it gets past their spam filter).
  • Is your professor really terrible? Send an email complaint to the head of the department. The evaluations students diligently fill out are likely ignored, but a personal email merits a response.
  • Do you live in Quebec? How's your written French? Mine is horrendous. Please write to the ministry of education about the poor standards in McGill's education department. Tell me about the results!
  • Did you get ignored? Don't give up. Make it a game - see how ludicrously far you must go to get a basic student right upheld. I'm still playing that game.
  • Are you a McGill education student with your own stories? Do me a favour and complain in my place. Be polite and professional. But also demand some kind of concrete action. Ask when you can expect results.
Nobody wants their inbox filled with complaints. If you have a complaint, make the department at least pay the small price of having to read your story.

There are plenty of good people working at McGill. Perhaps if we express our dissatisfaction, it will give them the ammunition they need to enact positive change. If even 1% of my readers emailed their university, that would be quite the tsunami of complaints! Some of the issues I've raised are just abysmal, and I'm sure you have your own stories to tell.

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