Yesterday I was among a group of faculty members previewing a new online student-success system that guarantees--GUARANTEES!--that it will improve student retention rates, which is tempting if true, but the whole thing feels so intrusive and Big Brotherish that it's one step away from providing every student with a personal robot to make sure he gets to class and then nags him to do his homework. Whether it's called Student SuccessWorks or GradeGuardPro or MyMomBot, that system is going to make someone a billionaire.
Which makes me wonder: If I provide some essential scripts for MyMomBot, will the inventor cut me in on the profits? Can't hurt to try:
[Gentle chimes.] Rise and shine, [insert name here]! I've laid out your clothes and ironed your socks, so you've got just enough time to dress, print out your paper, and head to the dining hall before your 8:00 class! Press 1 to accept this reminder, 2 if you'd like just five more minutes of sleep, or 3 to indicate illness and initiate a call to MyDocBot.
[Rooster crowing.] I said rise and shine, [insert name here]! I see in my databank that you've already reached your quota of absences in your 8:00 class so missing another class will endanger your grade. We care about your success! If you get up right now, you've got just enough time to print out your paper and get to class if you skip breakfast! But I don't want you to go to class hungry--I am prepared to distribute a quick breakfast on the go. Press 1 for a granola bar, 2 for a banana, 3 for a hard-boiled egg.
[Foghorn.] Okay, no more messing around, [insert name here]! No time to lose if you don't want to lose more points in your 8:00 class! Don't even think about the socks I ironed for you--just roll out of bed, print out your paper, and dash into class a few minutes late. I'm prepared to issue an excuse to suit your need: press 1 for dead grandparent, 2 for computer virus, or 3 for roommate's suicide attempt.
[Sirens.] Are you planning to get out of bed at all today, [insert name here]? We care about your success! But after all the time and money we've invested in your success, all you want to do is lie there like a bum. Don't you care about your future? Do you want to spend the rest of your life flipping burgers and living in your parents' basement? If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times--all we want is for you to be happy! But you'll never be happy if you fail freshman comp. So are you going to get out of bed on your own or do I have to drag you out? Press 1 for "drag me out," 2 for "pour cold water on my head," or 3 for -- wait, what are you doing? Put that sledgehammer down! We care about your success! We care about your success! We care about y----
And the rest is silence.