Stupid universities! Must control fist of death!

Must… control… fist… of… death!

Yesterday, I got a note in the mail telling me the post office had a package for me. It’s the start of the new trimester at CSU, so I guessed it was study material for the Masters degree I’m doing. I was right.

So I picked it up and went home, all enthusiastic. The subject ITC511, “Networking Concepts 1”, appears to be, in fact, the first two modules of Cisco’s CCNA studies. Not a bad thing for me to do, seeing as I have occasion to tool around with Cisco routers.

So I got the Cisco Press “Cisco Networking Academy Program: CCNA 1 and 2 Companion Guide”, a matching workbook/journal, as well as the university’s own folder of bumf to read.

Here’s where the fist of death comes into it.

In the university bumf, there is information on assessment. For Topic 1: Introduction to Networking, we must read chapter 1 of the book, answer the in-book questions and do some of the CDROM-based exercises. Fine.

Chapter 1 consists of telling us about the benefits of microprocessors and transistors. An exercise in the book insists that we be able to define such little-known terms as “floppy drive” and “keyboard port”.

One of the “focus questions” in the workbook asks us, “What is the relationship of NICs to PCs?”. I feel like answering, “They both contain the letter C, because this must be a trick question. Surely you can’t be asking people who are doing a fucking MASTERS degree in NETWORKING what a fucking network card is!!!”. Maybe I should describe the relationship as “Strained, because the PC suspects that the NIC has been having an affair with his girlfriend, the floppy drive. Meanwhile, the keyboard port is still mooning over the parallel port, even though he knows intellectually that it can never be.”

Here’s the kicker. I will quote verbatim from the uni handbook so it doesn’t look like I’m making this up:

Ok. Got all that? Let me summarise the Fist Of Death points:

FOD #1: “The degree of the difficulty”. Proof-read your work goddamit! I’d get caned a mark if I wrote that in an assignment!

FOD #2: You do not need to explain what “respectively” means. Really. It’s almost as much an insult to your students’ intelligence as asking them to define the term “keyboard”. Also, we do not need to have the term “three” explained to us (As you keep pointing out, it’s the same as “3”). :rolleyes:

FOD #3: You want us to invent our own questions, then answer them? Eh? You what? Can I do this on the exam too? But I know what’s going on. I’m onto you! You want us to give you a bunch of questions that you can collate, then present to your next batch of students as if they are your own work! So here, let me get you started:

[li]Question 1: Define “three”.[/li][li]Question 2: Define “3” (see Question 1 for more information).[/li][li]Question 3: Find the Lab Activity, “PC Hardware”. (Hint: It’s in a book that has not been supplied to you). :smack: [/li][/ul]
It’s going to be a fun trimester, I just know it!!

Haha - and yet we are not supposed to make silly jokes about Austalians being all upside down. :slight_smile:

There there. <patting Maxxxie on the head.>

Hmmm…sounds as if my graduate committee has decided to teach at your school – when I took my qualifiers, they were only oral exams, and no one of the four professors on my committee would give me a reading list, nor go over the ones I was doggedly trying to put together.

I wish I could have been allowed to make up my own questions to give them, though, cos when I got to the exam, they just asked me random things off the tops of their heads, sometimes not even in the ballpark of my fields. My favourites: The prof who decided to grill me on the Italian Renaissance and Machievelli, even though my agreed on field with him was mediaeval urban developement (he said he’d forgot). Close runner up was the prof who held up a book I’d never seen before and said, ‘Have you read this?’

Me: Honestly, sir, I haven’t even heard of it before this moment.

Him: So, what do you think its central thesis is.

Me: [baffled] Sir?

Him: Go, on. Guess.

Me: [after going back and forth with him for a good five minutes that I honestly did not know and did not feel comforable guessing, and took a wild guess based on the title]

Committee [raucous laughter]
I’ve had a history prof who couldn’t read Latin who would give insanely long translation projects to his students as assignments, and we’d have to include IDs of names, dates, places, odd terms, any imbedded quotes from other texts,and Charlemagne’s knickers’ size for all I know; guess what, it was also stuff he needed for his current research project. Or his partner in crime, who had photocopied the entire body of notarial docos from a 15th century French notary, and we ‘learnt’ palaeography by transcribing them, translating them, and explicating the text. Three guesses what HER research project was…bah.

Gah!!! Happy days in grad school.

I’ll tell you what – keep your workbooks or a copy of that silly shite, cos no one will ever believe you if you just tell them about it!

PS – You know, thinking about it, you find this line of questioning ridiculous (and my partner, who is a professor of computer science, is sputtering hearing about it), but your prof may be sadly covering his arse – my grad advisor discovered that amongst 5 or 6 ABDs in mediaeval history, only one, me, could read Latin. In my field, this is like getting to the dissertation in maths and saying, ‘What’s this calculus stuff I’ve been hearing about? Is it important?’

I couldn’t believe I had peers – some of whom were better funded than I but I’m not bitter – couldn’t flipping read Latin!




  1. Prepare three (3) questions related to the concepts covered in Chapter 1 of Book A


  1. Questions 1,2 and 3 above"

It gets full marks in the joke, at least.

Not to belittle the CCNA cert - it’s a good intro to networking and all fine and dandy if you need to prove that the sight of a Cisco router does not send you cowering into a corner - but University level it ain’t. (I’ve had to introduce a CCNA to the concept of variable length IP subnet masks.) Sounds like it would be an easy time for all, if you weren’t stuck with supplying input to the instructor’s next networking class. Would you get credit if you just took the Prometrics test and showed the prof the CCNA cert ?

Hiya Spiny,

The degree is structured in such a way that half of the subjects are “university” subjects, and the remainder are “industry” subject. In other words, you choose a track (eg MCSE 2000, MCSE 2003, CCNP etc) which determines the industry subjects you take. It’s aimed very specifically at people who are already in the industry and have a provable background in the networking field. You can visit their site at IT Masters.

That having been said, I agree the CCNA in itself is not university-level study - IF the CCNA were being done on its own. Here it is presented as part of a greater body of study, and I think there is merit to its inclusion in the curriculum. Namely, students receive a certification beyond the MCSE, and it ensures consistency in learning outcomes and study. I say this from an employer’s point of view: which can you relate to - a student who passes ITC511 and ITC512, or a student who’s received a CCNA?

Also… and the cynic in me says this… it means the subject “supervisors” don’t have to work too hard!

Yes, I would get credit if I just did the CCNA exam. However, as au fait as I am with certain aspects of OSI, subnetting, IOS etc, there’s stuff I really don’t know yet, and I hate sitting exams when I’m not ready for them yet. So I’m taking the free study guides etc (they’re not really free, but you get the drift) and making the best of it.

I did the end-of-chapter review questions, just for a laugh. This sample is representative:

Followed immediately by this question:

Now, even if I didn’t know the answer to those two questions, I could guess it, just from the way the questions are asked. I guess I should be glad. At least it didn’t ask me what a computer is. :rolleyes:
Max :smiley:

Lord love a duck! I wish that my prof for Anatomy and Physiology had had test questions like that. Instead he came up with T or F questions that were im-frigging-possible to answer. :rolleyes:

Ah, it makes way more sense in that context. I can see that working.

Gotta love those sample questions - half of getting the Cisco certs is learning to decode the way the questions are phrased.

My favourite from an old CCIE lab qualification exam:

“The TTL field in the IP header serves the following purpose:”

A.Plausible-but-slightly-incorrect answer, almost identical to B.
B.Plausible-but-slightly-incorrect answer, almost identical to A.
C.To limit the lifetime of an IP packet and thus prevent routing loops.
D.To force us to ponder the brevity of life.

That test got harder, though. Fast.