The TC Message Center: Eyesore or Informative?

| November 30, 2016

Welcome to our very first podcast in TC Quirks! This channel is dedicated to the little things at Teachers College. You know, those strange little things that exist here that may bother you or that you may have completely ignored. Either way, we’re here to talk about them.

To start us off, we look at one of the first things we all usually see when we log into our myTC portalthe TC Message Board. Duh duh duhnnnn… Yes, that column of textual diarrhea that sits in the middle of your main page adding to the cluttered mess that already is your myTC welcome page. Elliot and Sebastian delve into this mess and also discuss the Links to free Software and the Degree Audit.

What is the Message Board to you? Useful or useless? Informative or annoying? Listen to the podcast for further discussion and please comment below. Also, vote on this poll about what you think of our TC Message Center.

Length: 19 mins 24 secs


[intro music]

Elliot: Hi! Welcome to the inaugural podcast of TC Quirks. My name is Elliot Hu-Au, a second-year Masters student here at TC.

Sebastian: I’m Sebastian Opazo, a second-year student at TC also.

Elliot: And we are your hosts. So, today we are talking… and I have not shown Sebastian actually what we are talking about yet, so he has no idea.

Sebastian: This is great…

Elliot: Yeah, you’re gonna be so surprised.

Sebastian: No kidding.

Elliot: The topic is the TC Message Center, also called the TC message board or whatever. Basically, that big giant middle column of crap that, you know, appears every time you log into myTC.

Sebastian: Okay, yeah, yeah… Oh man, I have a picture in my mind.

Elliot: So, the idea here is we are trying to poll all of the listeners, all zero people currently, for our podcast, or hopefully thousands of people, about whether or not this is actually a useful thing to have or people just totally glaze their eyes over that and no, they’d never look at it. Which is what our title is about on the website, you should check it out.

Sebastian: Alright.

Elliot: “Eye Sore or Informative?” What do you think? Do you use it?

Sebastian: Well, here is the thing, this is the kind of thing that I always ignore. I’d definitely be on the side of the Eyesore people. But every now and then I hear someone say “Oh did you see this? It was awesome, there was a job posting.” There was this awesome thing that I didn’t know, basically. So I mean, every now and then I go there and see is there anything awesome there, and sometimes you find very interesting things. I think it’s not about the content, it’s about the way they’re displayed.

Elliot: Their presentation of it is terrible.

Sebastian: It’s so overwhelmingly saturated with information. There’s just no way to prioritize based on your preferences. Even though there might be something interesting for you there, it’s like, 90% of what you’re gonna read is basically useless.

Elliot: Yeah, totally. You know, speaking of how you hear people saying that “Did you see this awesome thing on the board or whatever?” It’s probably those times when you’re talking to me. Because I’m one of those people who actually like, use it.

Sebastian: You like it.

Elliot: Sometimes I do.

Sebastian: You like this thing?

Elliot: No, no, I don’t like it. Okay, let’s get that on the record. I do not like it. But, I do see that it has a lot of information so I actually do take the time to read it. Although, the emails that we get, you know, how we get emails about these?

Sebastian: Yeah, yeah.

Elliot: I look at those too, but those are also a pain in the butt.

Sebastian: I just, I don’t know what their idea is. I mean, I understand that it is their duty to make information as available as they can. But there is a point where you are so overwhelmed with all the emails you get every day, with all the information on your myTC portal, with all the student organizations’ emails that are out there, the activities that, oh my God, I don’t have time to read them all. And I’m one of those people that like, just, I mean I unplug myself from it basically. I’m just like “Yeah, yeah, I’m not gonna read anymore. I gonna rely on my friends to be on top of things.”

Elliot: Like me? You make me do the dirty work!

Sebastian: Yeah. So, I think it is interesting that there is a point, for me and maybe for other people too, hopefully. But there is a point where there is so much information, it becomes so abundant that it loses, like, value.

Elliot: Yeah, I can see that. Yeah, it’s kind of sad sometimes that I see, like, people post things and then, like just sort of, you know, as time goes on, they kind of gets pushed down and then they disappear.

Sebastian: Right.

Elliot: I always wonder like “Oh, did anyone actually even look at that?” Also, have you ever actually tried posting on to this?

Sebastian: No, not directly. We was trying to do it through SDA because they… I’m president for the acapella group, Spark Notes, so we tried to do that but it was kind of, it was kind of… I don’t know, there was a lot of stuff you had to do and you can only do it a week before the event that you’re sponsoring happens.

Elliot: Oh… yeah…

Sebastian: So I was like “Oh yeah, I don’t want to go over all this crap to post something on the board that nobody will read.” But, I don’t know, what was your experience with it?

Elliot: I posted a few things on it. And what I quickly learned was that if you like, follow the different categories correctly, like the thing I was posting was something about like a…like a workshop or something, so it would fit way the heck down under, like, “Workshops.” You see how far I have to scroll down just to like, find “Workshops.”

Sebastian: That’s ridiculous.

Elliot: So that basically, what I realized is that “Community, Diversity and International” is always at the top. So that is always going to be…

Sebastian: The most… the hottest…

Elliot: Yeah, that’s the theme for anything I do. Whether I’m trying to sell like, a used pair of… like socks on this or something, I’m going to call that “Community, Diversity and International.”

Sebastian: If you think about it, this is so Web 1.0.

Elliot: Yes.

Sebastian: This is like, the opposite of what the Internet is doing now. The Internet now is about customization, interaction… So with Web 2.0 version of this, you would have the ability to customize your portal and see what the things like, what kind of social media like, where you basically upvote what you’re interested in and downvote what you’re not interested in, so you can filter relevant information. So this thing is like, it looks like it was made in 2005 or something.

Elliot: I know. Are you surprised, though? I mean, it’s TC.

Sebastian: Well…

Elliot: Come on. That’s not bad for TC?

Sebastian: Well, yeah, okay, that’s a fair point. I’m not. But at the same time, I have the responsibility, especially because we’re majoring in Instructional Technology and Media.

Elliot: Nice! Way to fit that in there! Good job!

Sebastian: I have the responsibility of having a critical eye really, and say “Okay, this is not perfect.”

Elliot: No. Definitely not.

Sebastian: Yeah. So, it would be interesting if they… I mean I understand this. There’s probably a lot of limitations when it comes to implementing, and you’re thinking, you have to migrate all, like, at the same time. And we saw earlier this semester how much they struggled with making like, small updates to your portal and then, the WiFi here. So it’s like, I can understand why they would be reluctant to update this. But at the same time, this is not like… At some point, they must do something.

Elliot: I know, I agree. Yeah. Well, you know, I didn’t notice, look, they have a, like, a heading here called Free Food. Now, I don’t think that has always been there.

Sebastian: Oh.

Elliot: Yeah.

Sebastian: Where is that?

Elliot: Although, the dumb thing. Yeah, exactly. Where is that? See, it’s like, buried underneath Community, then Course Offerings… Free Food. Like if this is listed…

Sebastian: Yeah, that would be, that would be at the top of my personal TC world.

Elliot: Right?

Sebastian: My customized TC portal would have that on the top.

Elliot: Yeah. But like Community, Diversity, and International, like who cares about that? You just want some free food.

Sebastian: Yeah, exactly. Like, you’re the expert on this. You always read it. What do they…? Like what’s…? I always read stuff like, “Oh yeah, they needed teachers.” I’m not a teacher. That’s a problem. I understand we’re Teachers College. But that’s one of the reasons I don’t pay much attention to it. It’s like, “Oh, they need a K-12 teacher for this and that. Or tutor.” And I just like, “Yeah, well thanks!”

Elliot: That’s not me, right. Yeah. I like the Job Opportunities thing actually. Because you know, that’s… But like you were just saying, if they’re always asking just for teachers, and you’re not interested in being a teacher, then what’s the point?

Sebastian: This is interesting. If you go now to Job Opportunities, the very first thing is “Need proofreading help?” 

Elliot: Really?

Sebastian: Yeah!

Elliot: That’s what yours said?

Sebastian: What? What?

Elliot: Mine didn’t even said that.

Sebastian: Really?

Elliot: Maybe I need to refresh. Maybe I get better job opportunities! Oh look!

Sebastian: Wait! What? We don’t even have the same stuff?

Elliot: No. That’s because someone just posted.

Sebastian: Oh no, no, no. Yeah, yeah. You’re totally right. It changed. I didn’t…

Elliot: Maybe they filter it. They don’t give you…

Sebastian: Oh! Well then, they’re doing a terrible job. So, okay, okay. Like babysitting, that’s okay. But the second one, “Need proofreading help?” What does that even mean? If I go to there, like… Is this someone looking for a job, or offering for a job?

Elliot: Yeah. I don’t know.

Sebastian: So what is this question? Okay, need help editing and polishing a dissertation. So, I mean,  experience…? Oh no, no. They don’t need, they’re offering.

Elliot: Yeah, they’re offering.

Sebastian: So this is not an opportunity, it’s more of a… “You want to hire someone for proofreading?”

Elliot: What they could… I mean being in here kind of, can go either way. Like you’re either offering your services…

Sebastian: Oh, really?

Elliot:  Or yeah…

Sebastian: I’m usually looking for like a…

Elliot: Like here. They build robotics and stuff.

Sebastian: Ooooh… That is interesting.

Elliot: That sounds fun. But they probably pay… Well, that’s on the Upper West Side, so you know…

Sebastian: That is another interesting thing. Here is the thing. As an international student, I cannot work outside campus, before I graduate. I mean I’m on a J Visa, a J-1. I don’t know how the F works specifically, but I heard it’s like, similar. So, you cannot work.  You can only work on campus during your degree, and then, you can do academic training or OPT, depending on the visa, which is like… By the time you’re done, you can like, actually be hired for a full-time position somewhere else. But before that, while I’m taking courses at TC, I could not legally babysit right now.

Elliot: Yeah.

Sebastian: I mean, I know it’s not the most formal form of job. Could possibly do it illegally, but I don’t want to. But for international students, some of these categories and some of these postings do not make much sense, you know? And that’s a very easy like, a filter you could come up with. Or maybe you shouldn’t. I don’t know.

Elliot: I mean as an ignorant American, I’d never even cared about that stuff, or looked at it. But, as your friend, I do care, and I think that it sucks that they don’t, you know, have filters for the international students, being on A, B, C, D, E, F, G Visas.

Sebastian: Yeah. And also, like you said before, when you opened this, I cannot see Job Opportunities until I like, scroll down. I’m not saying, it’s like a huge effort, but you should always assume that people on the Internet are lazy.

Elliot: Yeah. Oh yeah, I agree.

Sebastian: And I, myself, I am lazy, so when I open this, I see a bunch of like, words. A wall. Like…

Elliot: Yeah. Goodbye! Yeah, I know. I mean, it takes two finger swipes to get down there. That’s too many!

Sebastian: That’s too much! Too many!

Elliot: I’m tired!

Sebastian: Oh. My fingers hurt!

Elliot: So let’s think about all this other stuff that comes below that too, like Music, Dance, Theater. I would never see that stuff.

Sebastian: Yeah. Whoever sees like…

Elliot: The Personal Classifieds stuff actually would probably be useful. But again, it’s like buried so far down.

Sebastian: I mean, every now and then, when I have time, which is not very often, I’m like, “Oh yeah, what are the Personals, like, what are people posting there? Are they selling stuff or…? But for that, if you go to… Here’s the interesting thing, if you go to Facebook, there are different groups. There’s Freeing for Sale, there’s housing, Columbia Housing group. So if you are interested in that kind of stuff, Facebook does a much better job at like, filtering information for you. So it’s like, yeah, it’s a cute idea, but it’s not probably going to work when you have so many better alternatives out there. Another thing that I was super surprised about the TC Portal is like, if you go to the left column, right at the end, they have the Software and Tools section.

Elliot: Yeah, that’s interesting.

Sebastian: And I was like, “Yeah, what is this about?” So you have a lot of like, you have access to a lot of stuff here. Starting with Office, NVivo, SPSS, like a lot of useful software. And personally, I’m super into these kinds of things, so that’s how I discover it pretty early. But I’ve run into people that have absolutely no idea these even exist. Now a lot of people have even paid for alternatives because they didn’t know they have access.

Elliot: Oh, that sucks!

Sebastian: So this is like… Wow, okay. This is a good example of maybe you’re not prioritizing the info.

Elliot: Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, and notice here for all the doctoral students, and they have like, antivirus software for free.

Sebastian: Yeah!

Elliot: I mean, they do have a lot of stuff.

Sebastian: They have like, FTP clients.

Elliot: But not many people would be using that.

Sebastian: Well, that’s true. But I mean, more and more people are interested in building their own websites.

Elliot: Yeah.

Sebastian: Yeah. Especially, I think like, for example, I didn’t know we have SPSS for free until like, this year.

Elliot: I think they sent that email actually about it.

Sebastian: They did? Well, didn’t I tell you that I don’t read them?

Elliot: Yes! That’s true!

Sebastian: I get like nine emails per day or more only, like from TC only. The other thing is like, there is this TC Digest.

Elliot: That’s what I was talking about. Yes! 

Sebastian: Everyday! I’m not gonna….

Elliot: I know! It’s like this thing in your inbox, and it’s like, “Hello, pfft!”

Sebastian: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Elliot: Yeah. Well, there’s a lot of stuff here on the myTC web portal.

Sebastian: Yeah. Another thing. One thing that I must say, I thought I found pretty cool, was the degree audit. This thing like, I think they added it last year.

Elliot: Does it work? Now?

Sebastian: Is it…? Wasn’t it…?

Elliot: Well, when it first came out, like you’re saying, it wasn’t working for me really well. So, it actually turns me off, like, super quick. Coz I was like “This doesn’t make any sense if it’s not working.”

Sebastian: Oh no, no, no. I’ve used it. Maybe it was, like, the first month or a couple months. But now, it’s like… Well again, it’s not pretty.

Elliot: Yeah.

Sebastian: It’s not gorgeous looking or anything. I don’t think they’re focusing on that. But it is a useful tool. It’s like, okay, I want to know what I need and I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to go over the, I don’t know, the requirements for my program that are listed on its terrible website again and again, so I would use this. So it is a useful tool, I have to say, I mean for me at least, it’s been pretty useful.

Elliot: Oh yeah, oh yeah. It’s so easy too. You just hit and create Audit.

Sebastian: Yeah, that is cool. So kudos for that TC. Would like that, keep doing stuff like that that makes our lives easier and not harder.

Elliot: Yeah. Too bad I have all these red Xs everywhere. Won’t be graduating…

Sebastian: Yeah, anytime soon…

Elliot: Yeah. Oh crap… Wow, cool… So, let’s call it a day. But, I think this is a good beginning to future podcasts and we have a ton of content, really, for what we could be talking about just on the myTC Welcome Page, really.

Sebastian: That’s true. Yeah, we’d gone over a couple things here, but we could do, like, an entire season on the different things that are on this page.

Elliot: Yeah, I’ll probably be castled after this first season. But yes, it’s true. I mean if people think that’s interesting, you can put it in the comments on our web page. But who knows, we’ll see where this goes, and if people like it, we’ll keep looking at stuff.

Sebastian: Yeah, you should talk about this. I love how I didn’t know about this topic. But now, I really loved it.

Elliot: Yeah!

Sebastian: I love this. This is something that I wanted a voice somewhere for a long time.

Elliot: Oh yeah, don’t worry. Oh, there’s more too. I have many more things that we can talk about.

Sebastian: Great, that’s awesome.

Elliot: Yeah. Well, alright. This is Elliot.

Sebastian: And this is Sebastian.

Elliot: And we’re gonna sign off for now.

Sebastian: And…bye… You’re laughing, man!

Elliot: Wait, you want us to say it at the same time?

Sebastian: Yeah, I don’t know, man. Yeah, that’s kind of awkward, I think. So bye! Bye guys!

Elliot: Alright, bye!

[outro music]