Much more than you wanted to know

I was born in Wisconsin, I lived in several different places as a child, and I have lived outside of Iowa for more of my life than in it, but I still consider Cedar Falls, Iowa to be my home town. After graduating high school in 1984, I attended the University of Iowa where I earned a BA in English. After my undergraduate degree, I entered the creative writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, and I earned a Master of Fine Arts degree. That’s when I first started teaching as a graduate assistant, fall 1988, just a few months after I myself was a college graduate.

I continued to live in Richmond until 1993, working part-time as an adjunct instructor at Virginia Commonwealth and full-time in the marketing department of the Virginia Student Assistance Authority, a student loan agency. While my title there was “public relations representative,” most of my work involved desktop publishing, document design, and technical writing. Richmond is also the city where I met my wife, Annette Wannamaker. 

In 1993, I entered the PhD program in Rhetoric and Writing at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. My dissertation, which I have made available on the web, was called “The Immediacy of Rhetoric: Definitions, Illustrations, and Implications.” In 1996, I began work as an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. That’s where our son William (Will for short) was born. In 1998, I joined the faculty at Eastern Michigan as an Assistant Professor, and in 2002, I was granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor. In Fall 2007, I was promoted to Professor.

Most of my teaching focuses on the relationships between writing and technology. I frequently point out that I am an expert in writing who uses computers and not an expert in computers. However, since I have been invested in the use of technologies like the Internet to facilitate my teaching since the early 90s (email, newsgroups, web pages, synchronous discussion forums, blogs, etc), I suppose I am a “computer expert” of a sort. Technology can’t replace good teaching nor can it solve the problems of bad teaching. But I do think that instructional technology simultaneously facilitates and questions the student-centered classroom in interesting ways that has made me a better teacher.

I’ve been teaching online courses as a part of my regular teaching load since 2005. I don’t think I’d say I prefer it to teaching face to face courses, but I do like the format, and I do believe online courses are as effective as face to face courses. There isn’t much point in comparing which one is “better;” rather, it’s all about the affordances of the different formats.

Over the years, I’ve published scholarship about rhetorical situation, multimedia/new media, blogging, writing pedagogy, self-publishing, and “the profession” writ large. Lately I’ve been focused on Massive Open Online Courses. I’ve published a few articles and chapters about my MOOC student experiences, and (along with Charles Lowe) I edited a collection of essays about MOOCs called Invasion of the MOOCs: the Promises and Perils of Massive Open Online Courses, which was published by Parlor Press in 2014.  I’m finishing a book called MOOCs in Context which will hopefully be published in 2019. I’m also trying to expand my writing efforts beyond the academic a bit, perhaps trying my hand again at fiction, perhaps some nonfiction that might appeal to to nonacademic-types.

Annette and I live in Ypsilanti within walking distance of EMU and about 8 miles from downtown Ann Arbor. Besides the usual academic things (reading, writing, traveling, etc.), I am an avid home cook.