C&W 2010 Part 2 (sort of): Conferencing with an iPad

As I mentioned in this post a couple weeks ago, I decided that I was going to try to not take my laptop but just my iPad with me to the Computers and Writing Conference at Purdue.  I will admit that this was a bit of a “stunt,” mainly because I had about four or five back-up plans if something didn’t go right, and the truth of the matter is I probably could have gone to the conference with no computer and been fine by borrowing, using the hardware/software set-ups in presentation rooms, etc.  Stunt or not though, it was an interesting experiment, and there were a couple of interesting iPad moments. Continue reading “C&W 2010 Part 2 (sort of): Conferencing with an iPad”

C&W 2010 Part 1: Travels, Golf, Sessions, Conference

With the whole CCCOnline thing off my chest, I decided to divide this up into two parts because of my adventures with the iPad (as I mentioned before, I decided to take it instead of a laptop to the conference)– I’ll post about that one later.

Anyway, as usual, Computers and Writing was great, that one conference I go to every year where it really is “my people.”  There are a lot of conferences like C&W, actually– Rhetoric Society of America, the Council of Writing Program Administrators (and their conference is coming up in July), writing center folks, etc.  I like going to the CCCCs and participating in its “big tent,” but it’s a little more comfortable to be in the smaller tent (side show?) that is C&W.  Here’s how it went for me, more or less in this order:

Continue reading “C&W 2010 Part 1: Travels, Golf, Sessions, Conference”

C&W2010 and the new CCCOnline (I always miss the “interesting” sessions)

Generally, I attend my department’s once a month or so faculty meetings, and generally speaking, they are kind of boring.  But when I miss a meeting, something inevitably contentious and/or otherwise interesting happens.  So it was at this year’s Computers and Writing Conference, or so it would appear.

Since I presented twice and back-to-back on Saturday afternoon (and I’ll have more about that and the rest of the C&W experience later), I decided to have a little “quiet time” before the “hog roast,” which was good but not really involving a “hog” on a spit as I was expecting. But I digress. Anyway, while I was hanging around my room and lazily looking through the twitter feed that was going on during the “featured deliverator” sessions, I noticed that things were heating up in the feed during Bump Halbritter’s “Exploring the Constellations of the New CCC Online.” Here are some of the tweets that peaked my interest (which I found via the “Twapper Keeper” for the conference):

@mday666 I’m excited, but wonder how it will be different from previous efforts at NCTE, and current journals like Kairos & C+C Online.

@rrodrigo @mday666 I’m thinking that’s one of the major ones, please prove me wrong!

@preterite disagree somewhat with Bump’s contention that CCCO 1.0 was just archiving: C. & D.’s indexing functions did much, much more.

@trauman @rrodrigo Not sure the comparison’s necessary. I’m just thinking context and a capacious history.

@mday666 @rrodrigo I’m not disagreeing; just want to see it to believe it. It would be great!

@kristinarola man, there’s a backstory here i do not know clearly…. watching 1/2 the people get it, and 1/2 the people not.

@selfe3 #cw2010 Bump’s Talk: ball, concerns about animosity between CCCC and C&W. How to bridge that? How to understand this will be sustainable.

@mday666 Cheryl asks how we can erase some of the issues we’ve had in the past, with mistrust between NCTE/CCCC and the C & W community.

@dcfitzg Some intense emotions swirling around ccc online intro and cfp

@thatcarlygirl @varhodes @kristinarola Not getting it either… But boy the mood sure shifted in here! Must hear backstory.

@warnick Maybe we can invite Dr. Phil to next year’s conference. He might be able to help us hug it out.

@preterite yet again, Derek asks the right question

@kristinarola this conversation would be way more interesting if i knew what was going on. veiled conversations by those in power. la lala. la.la.

@CNBlank As a newbie to the party, I’m not sure what to make of all of this. Civil but tense seems to be the mood.

If you’re not getting it from the Twitter feed, there was basically a very “frank” conversation about this new version of CCCOnline, especially given the ways in which this project has been less than successful in the past. As I understand it, my experience with the CCCs Online and being “disappeared” was invoked in the discussion,too. Go figure. In any event, for those who are curious and who are interested in at least a (small) part of the back story from my point of view:

Of course, there is a rich irony in the revised and re-published version of this article: it came about in part because version 1.0 of “Where Do I List This on My CV?” disappeared from College Composition and Communication Online, sometime in 2004 or 2005. This disappearance was something that I discovered (I believe as the result of an email inquiry from an interested reader); I was not informed about it by CCC or NCTE. The link for my article was http://www.ncte.org/ccc/www/2/54.1/krause.html. Essentially, one day the article was available at the site (and here, I’ve linked to the web archive version of the article), and then one day it was not.

I later learned that my article and presumably others that were published in this short-lived version of CCC Online fell through the cracks as the result of a change in editors and direction of the online version of CCC. I’m pleased to report that version 1.0 of the article is once again available via CCC Online at http://inventio.us/ccc/digital/krause/index.html. (actually, that link doesn’t work either)  Still, a Google search for the article is likely to turn up the old NCTE link or my own self-published version. This strikes me as problematic; after all, this was an article that was discussed online and has been cited in others’ scholarship. This was something I did indeed list on my CV; fortunately, I did not have to explain the absence of this article to my department’s tenure and promotion committee.

As I mentioned, I wasn’t at this CCConline session; that said, I think that there’s a lot of reasons why there was a “noticeable tension” in the room among folks who share my reservations about the ways that the NCTE and the CCCCs have mishandled this in the past.

But I want to be clear here:  I know this is not Bump’s fault, and we shouldn’t blame him. I know Bump is a good guy who will give this new version of the CCC Online his very best effort.  I talked with him quite a bit about this stuff Friday night, and I know that he is both personally and professionally invested in the success of this new venture.  I for one welcome as many different venues for publishing work viable to the computers and writing community as possible, and I think I’ve got a pretty good idea for a proposal to send to Bump yet this summer.

However, Bump has a tough job in front of him, both with “the community” and with NCTE.  I don’t envy his job, that is for sure.

Oh, and PS:  one of the things that came up via the Twitter feed was the “value” of a journal like Kairos in terms of tenure and promotion:  that is, is it “worth it” to publish in Kairos, or would it be more “worth it” to publish in something like an NCTE sanctioned CCCOnline?  I think all questions about tenure and promotion are local.  However, my experience with Kairos has been quite positive.  My most cited article was published in Kairos, “When Blogging Goes Bad.” It even ended up being included in T.R. Johnson’s anthology Teaching Composition:  Background Readings, which I think probably would count as “real scholarship” in just about any tenure and promotion case.

On the other hand, the one article I had published by the (arguably) more prestigious CCCOnline disappeared.

The iPad as a writerly tool/space

Before I get too far along but also without going into a lot of detail, let me say a few things about my general “writerly” locale habits and how they’ve changed.  When I was in my PhD program, I worked with a tiny laptop (a PB 100!) at a very large desk set up in Annette’s and my “study” in the second bedroom of our small apartment. Then for years, my writing locale of choice were area coffee shops and my primary writing tool was my laptop.  Even at home, I had a small desk and a laptop.  Then both my interests in working with video and my work environment changed, so now I have quite a large desk area again, this one quite a bit nicer than that Bowling Green apartment. My primary writing station is an iMac souped up with extra RAM and such, and with a second monitor.  With this space, my writing habits have changed in that I now routinely have a dozen different windows open, two or three different applications going, etc., etc.  Plus I do about 80% of my work at this computer and this desk– teaching online, writing, commenting on student work, etc.

So, for the foreseeable future, my iPad is going to remain a sort of “second banana” as a writerly device, something to use when I’m writing and not here, which is to say not that often. Continue reading “The iPad as a writerly tool/space”

Some miscellaneous iPad thoughts (including an answer to the “need” question)

Before I get to the writerly part of things, a couple of thoughts and iPad links:

  • Folks have said some very nice things about my iPad posts here and comments elsewhere, which suggests something about obtaining ethos that I hadn’t really thought of before:  if you don’t necessarily know what you are talking about, it is best to  a) be first and b) be willing to say what you think, wrong or right.
  • In my role as an iPad “expert,” I have been asked by people “why I need an iPad.”  This has happened surprisingly frequently.  Well, “need” is a concept that can be reduced to the very basic (e.g., water, food, shelter) or it can be rather frivolous (e.g., chocolate, scotch, snow globes), and everything in between.  I will say this though:  I am of the opinion that in modern American culture, almost everyone “needs” easy access to a computer, a television, and a radio (which is often replicated by the computer, of course).  I don’t know if everyone “needs” an iPhone, an iPod (which for me is my phone), a DVD player, a coffee maker, high speed internet access at home, or a car, but for me, all of these things are indeed “needs.”  Then there are things like washers and dryers, lawn mowers, and dishwashers:  these are kind of on the edge for me.  For example, when our dishwasher broke a few years ago, it took us almost a year to replace it.Anyway, for me, I think the iPad is somewhere between an iPhone and a dishwasher.  If something happened to my iPhone today, I would go out and buy another one, pretty much no matter what the cost.  If something happened to my iPad, well, I could probably go without for a while.
  • I continue to be amused and puzzled by iPad polarization, the “this is the end of civilization as we know it” versus the “this is the best thing ever.”  The latest thing in this category is this whole “the device just disappears” argument, as retold in this Wired Gadget Lab piece.  That strikes me as a little much.  (BTW, Wired has lots of good iPad articles collected here).
  • In more examples of how the iPad is actually useful for developing content:  check out this cool video of drawing on/with the iPad. The fingerless glove is a nice touch to prevent unintentional touching.
  • Obama apparently said something about not liking the iPad, though his comment (as discussed in this Salon.com piece) is more along the lines of “the kids today.”  Not that interesting.  More interesting to me is this comment that comes from Fox News Channel psychiatry correspondent Keith Ablow in response to this:  “The president is doubly correct. First of all, he is right (as I have written a number of times) that the Internet, Facebook and, yes, the new iPad and many other devices can interfere with people becoming wise and knowledgeable, rather than simply deluged with facts. They can also become estranged from real relationships and from themselves as they become obsessed with pretending to be stars on YouTube or worthy of “followers” on Twitter or popular with thousands of “friends” on Facebook.”  In other words, pretty much the same thing that Socrates said about writing in Phaedrus.
  • Here’s an interesting piece about reading on the iPad versus reading good-ol-fashioned books.  I don’t know if books are going to “disappear” or not, but this guy’s reaction here is different from mine.  I will admit that I don’t do a lot of reading on my iPad– I’m still mostly a paper kinda guy when it comes to magazines and books, for example– but I do find it very readable and light enough.  And I don’t constantly fear that I will be robbed if I take my iPad in public nor do I get a lot of inquiries about it from strangers.  Of course, I tend to take it out in public in “too cool for school” Ann Arbor.
  • “Two weeks of travel, Ten iPad lessons” by Michael Gartenberg over at slashgear is very good advice about using an iPad for travel instead of a laptop.  Every one of these lessons rings true to me, and I will find out a lot more about that and other iPad travel experiences very soon since I’m going to be going to the Computers and Writing Conference this weekend without a laptop and with my iPad. (See below).

Okay, with all that out of the way….

The “Huge Square Foot Garden”

The garden complete! Loyal stevendkrause.com readers and/or square-foot garden enthusiasts will recall that last year, we experimented around here with a slightly modified version of the classic design last year, putting in what turned out to be a quite successful raised box on the side of the house.  Here’s a link to a set of pictures from that.

It turned out to be a fantastic success, so I decided to “kick it up a notch,” so to speak, and thus was born “the huge square-foot garden.” Basically, the very far back part of our backyard has always been a bit of a problem as far as growing a lawn goes, and it is also the only other part of our yard (well, other than the front yard) where we regularly get sun.  So I thought it’d be a good idea to both eliminate the weedy mess of that part of the lawn and simultaneously expand the herb garden with four 4X8 foot raised beds.

This seemed like a good and even “easy” idea at the time, but damn, that’s a lot of freakin’ garden.  I don’t want to even begin to guess how many hours it took me to get it to this point, and don’t ask me how much it all cost either.  Had I known before I started how much time and/or money this was going to take, I would have just kept mowing the weeds. But right now, it looks pretty good.

“What did you plant,” you ask?  In the middle of most of the beds are perennials, mostly stuff from around the yard already just relocated here.  Around the edges are mostly herbs, also relocated from other places in the yard.  But we also have raspberries, a lot of vegetables I am pretty sure will work out well (cherry tomatoes, beans, lettuce), a few veggies I am dubious about (corn, for example), and some flowers from seed that may or may not actually appear.

I’m pretty confident that the stuff that’s hard to kill will do fine, and in a season or two, I am sure it will look lush and far less “new.”  I’ll be curious to see what does or doesn’t make it by August.

Just a couple Facebook Privacy thoughts I’m willing to share…

I’ve come across a lot of stuff about Facebook Privacy lately– for example, there’s this piece from Read Write Web, “More Web Industry Leaders Quit Facebook, Call for Open Alternative,” which has a ton of links both in the article and in the comments on the “quitting Facebook” trend, and then there’s the often reposted “Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook.” In no particular order, I had a couple of thoughts:

  • There’s something interesting? odd? ironic? well, maybe just something– about how people seem to be rediscovering the privacy issues here a couple of years after the conventional wisdom for sites like Facebook and MySpace is that “kids” were being pretty stupid by putting up stuff that will come back to haunt them later. I realize that part of this new wave is a result of Facebook’s increasingly squishy privacy issues, but some of it also has to be because the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is “grown-ups” who supposedly know better.  And who don’t.
  • The concept/definition of “privacy” is not exactly stable, and this is by far from the first time that it’s been a contentious and potentially interesting issue. Remember Jennicam? Interestingly enough, the Wikipedia page I am linking to here says that Jennifer Ringley, who once pretty much broadcast “everything” out to the web, says she is now “enjoying her privacy.”  And maybe that’s part of what the deal is here too:  a lot of people kind of went a little over-board on the whole Facebook thing and now want to scale back a bit.
  • A lot of the complaints about Facebook seem to forget that it is not a “public space” or a completely free “community asset.”  Sure, they might be kind of asshole-ish as of late with various policies (not to mention just kind of tone-deaf to public critique), but they are a business that is trying to make money.  Part of the way they do that is by using your content; if you don’t like that, then don’t put up your content.
  • On the one hand, I don’t really care that much.  I mean, I’ve already got over 1600 pictures on Flickr all pretty much share-and-share-alike and there’s this and previous blogs; it’s not as if I’m leading that super-private of a life as it is.  And given that folks are okay with Amazon and Netflix making “choices” for you based on stuff you’ve browsed before, I don’t see exactly what is so wrong with Facebook targeting ads at you and treating your pages as if they are not completely private.  On the other hand, all of this dust-up is a reminder that Facebook is a public space, that those updates and pictures and stuff you post really can/will be seen by lots of people.
  • 16 or 15 years ago, I remember going to a talk at BGSU where someone was talking about this newfangled “email” system that was going on campus, and the presenter warned people then of their privacy:  don’t email anything you wouldn’t want to see showing up on a billboard or in the New York Times. That’s probably a little extreme for email nowadays, but words to live by on the book o’ face.

I think I agree with conservative Texans (and it scares me a little)

In the course of procrastinating/poking around on the Internets, I came across this CHE article, “Professors in Texas Protest Law That Requires Them to Post Teaching Details Online.” It’s behind their firewall, so I will paraphrase.  And let me say at the outset that I am obviously uncomfortable in finding that I agree with conservatives, let alone Texan conservatives.  I fear I am missing some of the more controversial points of this provision, so if anyone who knows better can correct me on what I’m not getting, please do so.

Here’s how the article opens:

Faculty members and administrators in Texas are speaking out about a recent state law that requires them to post specific, detailed information about their classroom assignments, curricula vitae, department budgets, and the results of student evaluations.

A conservative group whose administrators have close ties to Gov. Rick Perry lobbied for the law, saying it offers important “consumer protection.” Opponents counter that it has created an expensive and time-consuming burden and offers little benefit to the public.

Beginning this fall, universities will have to post online a syllabus for every undergraduate course, including major assignments and examinations, reading lists, and course descriptions.

Curricula vitae must include a faculty member’s teaching experience and contributions to professional publications. All of the information must be no more than three clicks away from the college’s home page.

Colleges are required to assign compliance duties to a campus administrator and, every other year, send a written report to the governor and legislative leaders.

Okay, I have some questions/concerns– what exactly does the law mean by “specific, detailed information,” for example?  And what’s the nature of this report to be submitted to the governor and legislative leaders?

Still… what’s the big deal here?  I mean, I have posted pretty specific classroom assignments, readings lists, course descriptions, and the like on the web for years and years.  Lots of people I know have some version of the CV up online, including me (though mine is not at all complete and it is a little out of date).  Basic results of student evaluations have been available to students at EMU for years, and there is a little site called ratemyprofessor.com that has been doing a problematic version of public student evaluations for years.  I think it would awesome if the administration would be a little more forthcoming about institutional budgets. And quite frankly, given all the horseshit reports that administrators make faculty write in the name of program review, accountability, and “strategery,” I think it is more than fair to make the administrators write a few horseshit reports themselves.

Here’s how the article ends:

Theresa J.C. Norman, an instructor of philosophy at South Texas College, calls the reporting requirements “a waste of time.”

Ms. Norman, who is also president of the South Texas Faculty Association, also resents what she sees as the law’s underlying assumptions. “You get the feeling that the government sees us as slackers,” she says. By requiring professors to list every assignment, she says the law interferes with her ability to respond to students’ interests and current events and shift to different topics during the semester.

Texas Tech University has spent $85,000 upgrading its server and hiring an administrator to train faculty members how to create digitally-searchable CV’s and syllabi that will meet the law’s requirements, according to Valerie O. Paton, vice president for planning and assessment.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Lois W. Kolkhorst, wanted to protect students and tuition-paying parents at a time of rising college costs, according to her chief of staff, Chris Steinbach. “Enrolling in a course and finding that it’s not what you needed can be an expensive mistake,” he says.

If this law means that faculty have to give REALLY specific details about assignments to the point where it is not possible for changes/modifications to the course, then I would agree.  But is that what this law is saying?  Really?

And an $85,000 server upgrade and training for faculty?!? Really.  Really? How hard is it to slap a PDF up on the web nowadays?

Now, I will admit that I teach in a state and at a university that is considerably more left-leaning than Texas, and I also don’t teach in an area that is particularly controversial.  I mean, the public at large gets a lot more “excited” about the politics of teaching evolution in biology or “dirty books” in literature than they do about teaching the controversies about writing and technology.  I don’t think I have to worry too much about Teabaggers coming after me for English 328.

Still, what’s the big deal here?  What am I missing?

You grade you, I grade me….

Grading is one of the last things I should have on my mind right now since I am not teaching this term.  And not teaching right now has made this last week– which is the one between winter and spring terms, a time when I normally would be busy trying to get too much stuff done around the house (getting the garden in, for example, or, like last year, completely moving my home office space) while simultaneously getting ready for the too quickly arriving spring term– quiet.  Too quiet, in some ways. I don’t think I received as many email messages all week as I was getting toward the end of winter term every day.

Anyway, today in Inside Higher Ed, I read “No Grading, More Learning,” which is about a “non-grading” scheme Duke University professor Cathy Davidson had as she returned to the classroom after being out of it for a number of years in administration.  To quote from the article:

Her plan? Turn over grading to the students in the course, and get out of the grading business herself.

Yeah, I don’t really understand what that means either….

Just to be clear:  I’m not saying that Davidson was doing anything bad.  I’ve done all kinds of different things to experiment with grading in my classes.  For example, I have students at all levels do a self-assessment for their participation grade, mainly because I want students to be “self-aware” that what they do (or don’t do) and how that leads to a particular grade.  People have done various kinds of contract grading in writing classes for years, and I think Peter Elbow and one of his colleagues had an article in College Composition and Communication a while ago about the “B” contract grade, something that I’m toying with laying out to students the next time I teach 328 in the summer term.

That said, this article and some of the responses to it does raise a few issues for me.

Continue reading “You grade you, I grade me….”