I'm in the awkward situation this fall of long-distance supervising/mentoring a student who is doing some work for me. I haven't met her in person, only via Skype. Sam connected us and is technically (but only technically) in charge, as he's the one giving the grade. Now she's emailing him because she's concerned about being able to finish everything this term, he doesn't really know what's going on (though he and I talked about it 2 weeks ago), and I am trying to figure out how to get the best outcome for her and for me.
I admit kind of messed up, because I wasn't checking her work as closely and as critically as I should have at the beginning (even after blogging about checking other students' work...ugh). This was exacerbated since I never see her in person. Basically she took a bunch of photos that are worthless, and they are going to have to be re-done (but probably not by her). On the one hand, I should have looked more closely, but on the other hand, she should be able to assess the quality of a photo, too. It turns out that her setup (which I of course have not seen in person) is less than adequate, so now things have been hung up while she waits for better equipment that I am having shipped to her. And now I might be sending her to buy more stuff at Target just so she can keep working since the other crap hasn't arrived from China.
Part of me feels like I should have never outsourced this project and just done it myself. On the other hand, it's relatively low priority and relatively low stakes, so I suppose it's better I re-learn this lesson now than later. I think this is the last time I'll try to long-distance supervise a project like this. I also need to make a mental note that I need to spend A. LOT. of my time (like, maybe all of it) closely training and supervising students at the beginning of a project.
(This reminds me that Psychgirl wrote a post about how she feels like it would be easier to do research herself because students take forever to pay off.)