The Creepy Invasion of Cengage in My Email Inbox

horror

July 3 and I am minding my own business, just checking email before Independence Day, and I have an email from someone named Ashley Minton, Ashley.Minton@cengage.com, with a cc: to someone named Rachael Pigg-Wisner (Wisner) at rachael.wisner@cengage.com. Yes, the sender’s email contains two caps, and the carbon-copied recipient’s email is all lower-case.

The email subject line is what gives me a “semi-creepy” creepy feeling: “Your Fall 2014 Insite Courses for ENGL 1101 are Ready – (5RC-3QQ1).” I did not order any courses, an act which sounds like ordering a meal for takeout. Nor would I ask anyone to get my classes ready for me. How would a person do that, anyway?

The author of the email wishes me good afternoon and hopes I am doing well and writes, “I wanted to let you know that I have created your fall ENGL 1101 courses for you within your InSite account.”

Now that is creepy! Someone has created my fall ENGL 1101 courses for me! Admittedly, what I will teach in the fall is not a secret, but that my courses have been created for me! Even my honors course, though I don’t see anything different in the Word attachment that is enclosed for it. And the three classes are all face-to-face classes.  And I have not ordered any electronic components for any of my textbooks.

Then in yellow highlight:

“Please find copies of your Student Registration Instructions attached to this email.  These instructions contain the step by step registration process for InSite as well as the unique Class ID and Enrollment Password that your students will use to register for each of your courses.”

Okay, so this complete stranger is giving me instructions where I can send my students. I am certain no data-mining will occur wherever it is this road takes my students.

I am also told, if I would like assistance creating my assignments, (yes, these are the exact words, except I have substituted “I” for “you” in the original text), to “please reply to this email with a copy of your syllabus along with the titles of the papers students will be submitting through InSite as well as the availability dates.”

Before Ashley “sincerely” closes, he or she tells me, “Please let me know how else I may be of help in getting your course ready for the new term.”

For once I am speechless. But as a teacher I probably need not worry. Whoever this Ashley Minton and Rachael Pigg-Wisner (Wisner) are, they will send me a speaking stand-in.

2 thoughts on “The Creepy Invasion of Cengage in My Email Inbox

  1. Well,actually, a Google search of the terms “Cengage” and “Darton State” reveals that Cengage has several little toe-holds at the college of the blog host. Here’s a sampling of pages:

    http://solutions.cengage.com/4LTR-Press/Adopting-Schools/#G (which indicates a formal link between Darton College and Cengage)

    http://www.ed2go.com/dartonce/SearchResults.aspx?SearchTerms=cengage&ac=False (where Darton College colleagues offer Cengage courses)

    http://employee.darton.edu/news/focus/pdfs/2013-02-07.pdf (where Darton College urges faculty to engage with Cengage)

    So what the blog host is actually highlighting is the way in which administrations create linkages with private enterprises, facilitating their access to faculty for profit — even at state colleges and universities.

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