This post should be about the ways in which the internet enables sharing of information, restructures the prioritization of textual and visual literacies, allows for new modes of identity and community, etc. Instead, it’s actually about how I’m a terrible record keeper.
A month ago, my colleague M. and I attended the annual conference for the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, or ISSOTL, for short. In many ways, it was a great conference, if a bit uneven. On the whole, it’s an enormous gathering place for people to discuss what they do in the classroom and institutionally, practically and philosophically. There aren’t many conferences with this particular focus, and so it’s a cavalcade of new ideas, from electronic portfolios to teaching in virtual worlds. And to top it off, the refreshments at the conference were GREAT. [This is no small achievement; at the American Studies Association conference last year, I had to stare down a panel attender for the last glass of water. At ISSOTL, there were liquids aplenty, as well as snacks. Hooray for snacks!] Apparently, you pay for those snacks in the long run. The registration for the conference was over $300, and when you add that to the room rate, travel, and meals, you have a hefty conference bill at the end of the weekend.
Luckily, we attended the conference as part of an experiment in teaching and learning that we’re trying to institute here at Saint Rose. Thus, we simply had to submit our receipts in order to be reiumbursed for the conference charges.
And, as Bill S. would say, therein lies the rub.
I am not a good keeper of receipts and records. After years of missteps, I have finally learned to take an envelope with me to conferences and to assiduously place each and every receipt in that envelope. I did so at ISSOTL, and when I returned, I totalled up the receipts, stuck them in a new envelope, and sent them off to the Provost’s Office via inter-campus mail. Now, anyone who knows anything about this process will immediately identify two major errors in my actions above. Note that nowhere do I say I “photocopied receipts so I’d have a backup,” nor do I say that I “walked the receipts over to the Provost’s Office and placed them in the hands of the secretary.”
To make a long story shorter than it could be, I waited three months for a check before calling the office to double check. Surprise, surprise: they’d never received the receipts. I’d need to resubmit them. I did get a bruise on my head from fainting forward on to my desk, but when I came to, I began to reconstruct my time at the conference. I’d registered online, and received a confirmation–and I still had that email. Now, time at the conference itself: well, both my bank account and my credit card allow you to search and reprint past statements. Done and done!
All in all, I’m missing receipts for about $40 from the original batch. Not bad for a batch of receipts recovered 3 months after the fact.
Thank you, internet, for being my own searchable file folder.