And other Computers and Writing highlights

I was going to wrap this all up in my previous post on Twitter, but since that got kind of long and very Twitter-centric, I thought I’d post one last time about C&W09 here. Some of the other highlights:

  • Before the Ganley keynote, Nick Carbone and I worked on incorporating some video from Matt Barton (who was originally going to come to C&W this year but then he didn’t, I think because of travel fund issues) into my part of our talk about textbook publishing, “Textbook 2.0: Open Source Textbooks and Multimodal Composition Programs.” There is a podcast recording of it on the C&W 09 web site– one of these days, I’ll connect that audio with my slides and post them here. Anyway, it was a pretty well-attended session in my estimation, and I enjoyed presenting with Nick.
  • I was “back to back” presentation boy at this year’s conference as I followed the textbook presentation with my contribution to “Sustainable Blogging: Problems and Promises for School, Work, and Play.” I set up a new web site/blog, “Blogs as Writerly Spaces,” to host stuff about this research, and I have a link to my presentation script here. It was a smaller crowd than the textbook talk (which says to me that I’m a lot more interested in my research in blogging at this stage than most other people), but some really good presentations from my Indiana University of Pennsylvania colleague and friend Gian Pagnucci, along with some IUP grad students, Sabatino Mangini and Jessica Schreyer.
  • Friday night was the banquet, which was fine but not that exciting one way or the other, and then it was out to the Davis nightlife with various C&W folks.
  • Slept in Saturday morning (well, sort of slept in– I never did get my time issues straight out there) and managed to walk through the Davis farmer’s market on the way to the conference. I debated getting some beautiful looking morel mushrooms, but I wasn’t sure I could get them back on the plane in my carry-on luggage. Probably, but I didn’t want to chance it.
  • Then to the conference and I went to see “Researching Fully Online Instruction: Assessment, Pedagogy, and a Sustainable Theory of Hybrid Online Learning,” which was a panel by some fine folks at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Given the discussions we’ve had here in my program about teaching online, I guess there are two things I found striking. One speaker, Christopher Dean, presented about how the research suggests there is “no significant difference” in what students learn in online classes versus similar face to face classes. There are some big problems with these kinds of claims, including a kind of fuzzy sense of what exactly it is we are measuring when we describe “learning.” But I will say that in my own experiences his claims seem accurate to the extent that the writing projects and other graded “artifacts” students produce in online classes are pretty much the same as those students produce in face to face classes, and that even includes things like the collaborative video projects and such. More important to me though was that two of these folks, Randi Browning and Kathy Patterson, spoke about their experiences teaching online for the first time. I wish these folks would come and talk to some of my EMU colleagues because I think they would be a lot more persuasive than me in speaking about what it’s “like” to make the leap of faith to teach online.
  • Went to Bill Cope’s keynote, which was fantastic, in my mind: very solid theoretically, well-put together and polished, pushing the edges of what counts as technology, etc. Interestingly, I think he was making the same basic point as Ganley; but besides the delivery, I think the differences had to do with tools than it had to do with concepts.
  • Then I took a conference break to go grade– I was and remain woefully behind– and I had a solo lunch and grading session at Crepeville. Very nice, and I got a fair amount of work done, too.
  • I attended another panel after my grading lunch (a pretty good one– G1, “Hybrid Writing Classes: Literacy, Dialogues, and Intellectual Property”), I went to Town Hall III, where I was on the panel. This was an odd experience. First off, I was pretty unprepared compared to the other people on the panel, I guess because what I thought I was supposed to do mostly was react to the stuff I had seen at the conference. I wasn’t expecting to have a little speech written up. And second, as I was sitting there next to Cindy Selfe and Kathy Yancey (not to mention some other heavy-hitters), I most distinctly had the feeling of being a little like Kathy Griffin on “the D list.” But it was a good conversation and a good opportunity for me. I tried to get Cindy to sign onto Twitter with no luck though.
  • Then it was an art exhibit that actually was kinda cool (I have some video to upload sooner than later) and then bowling. I took lots of pictures that are here, but my favorite is the one video I took:

    And this was followed by a comparatively quiet night on the town.

  • And just to prove that the conference isn’t over until you’re long LONG gone: I ended up riding back on the plane with a fellow conference goer and right behind this group of drunk women. It’s a long story, and it was a long plane flight, and I’m still running behind….

All in all, a fantastic C&W this year. I thought Davis was great, I think I actually went to more panels than I’ve gone to in a long time, and I have to say I enjoyed thoroughly having my own room (though it cost too much). Carl Whithaus and friends did a fantastic job, and I’m looking forward to next year’s conference at Purdue.

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