Seriously: Discussion boards save higher education

Paul Brull

 Editor’s Note: This is a satire piece from The Collegian’s opinion section. Real names and the events surrounding them may be used in fictitious/semi-fictitious ways. Those who do not read the editor’s notes are subject to being offended.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – This year, campus looks and feels a bit different. Instead of weary herds of hungover and overstressed business and engineering students, respectively, trudging toward 8 a.m. lectures, they simply sleep through the Zoom call. Yes, a new age of collegiate lethargy emerged in the wake of COVID-19, but some teachers are fighting back, using every method at their disposal.

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One of the most common tools is the Canvas discussion board.

“We’re worried that students won’t get their money’s worth without them,” said tenured professor T.A. Teachington. “Without an arbitrary discussion board, I simply couldn’t even hope to inflict the same levels of stress and neurosis as regular years.”

Students seem to agree, as Colorado State University senior John Evry stated, “Sh*t, that’s due today?!” and sophomore Everet Bodi commented, [REDACTED SLOUGH OF EXPLETIVES].

Indeed, the new normal may be even better than before. Physics and applied mathematics major Cesil Johnson said, “I write down an ambiguous and often pointless block of text before 11:59 p.m. that the professor never reads. They get to pretend they’re doing their job, and I get to pretend I’m learning, so it’s a pretty good deal.”

A group of professors, however, are going above and beyond the call of duty, assigning additional paid online services.

“We understand Canvas is a robust teaching tool that we almost never use to its full extent,” said absurd logic specialist Paymore Bills, “but it just doesn’t have this one thing.”

Many other professors agree. According to a campus poll conducted by A Totally Real Polling Company LLC, “Not having this one thing” is the third most common reason for not using Canvas (26%) right after “What’s Canvas?” (29%) and “I don’t know how to use it” (31%).

“By having five different paid external services for each of my classes, I can get behind on classwork and accumulate debt so much faster! “-Karen Potoski, student

“I personally use Red Button Discussions for my classes,” said Bills. “Besides providing this one thing, it also requires students to press a small red button every five minutes in the corner of their screen. Otherwise, it deletes the response they’re working on, and they have to start over. For only $200 per student, it guarantees rage and anxiety Canvas could never hope to reproduce.”

Student reviews of these additional services, however, are mixed.

“With student debt in the United States racking up every day and a pandemic almost certain to cause an economic recession, asking students to pay even marginally more for dubious education gains seems gratuitous and brutish, ” student Chad C. Chaddingsworth said.

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Karen Potoski thinks otherwise, stating, “I personally like the multitude of services. By having five different paid external services for each of my classes, I can get behind on classwork and accumulate debt so much faster! Speaking of which, I’ve got a discussion board due in five minutes that requires me to do a headstand while typing it. Bye!”

When asked for comment on price and usefulness, Bills stated, “I understand their concern, but what about this one thing? Without mediocre web services, I simply couldn’t provide an inferior version of Reddit.”

While the jury’s still out on collegiate education in the era of discussion boards, one thing can be said for sure: No one, not even the professors, are sure why we keep posting.

Paul Brull can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.