"Hole in the wall" in India Frontline story

In the process of surfing around tonight, I came aross this site, “The Hole in the Wall,” a Frontline story from 1999 or so. I think I had heard about this before, but basically, this computer company set up a computer monitor in a wall in a slum in India. Very quickly, slum kids started teaching themselves how to work the machine. Kinda cool stuff, and maybe a site I can use in my graduate computers and writing course.

School is (almost) out…

Today was the last day of my section of English 121; Wednesday is when we would have a final, but since we won’t really have a “final” in the class, it’s when the portfolio and any revisions are due.

Spring classes are tough because you are trying to accomplish in 7 1/2 weeks what is hard enough to do in 15 during the regular school year. It’s hard on the students, many of whom are taking the class now because they had “challenges” with it before. It’s hard on me because everything moves twice as fast and because, after the regular school year is over, I too am ready for a break.

Anyway, I’m about to take one. I will read through final projects and figure out final grades for students between now and Wednesday afternoon, and then we leave town for parts west of here first thing Thursday morning. It’s going to be a sorta/kinda “working vacation” in the sense that I am going to bring my computer and some work that I should have finished weeks ago is, er, “pressing.” But to tell the truth, I don’t know what kind of Internet access I’ll have and I don’t know how much time I’ll have, either. I guess I’ll find out in the next week or so.

The iPod experience at Duke

Here’s a couple of kind of fun and interesting links:

From Inside Higher Ed comes this article, “Duke Analyzes iPod Project.” And, for the whole sha-bang, there’s this, the “Duke iPod First Year Experience.” Personally, I think the whole iPod give-away thing is kind of a gimmick, and kind of a strange one for a place like Duke, if you ask me. “Sure, tuition is a gazillion dollars here at Duke, but hey, you get a free iPod!”

As reported in the Inside Higher Ed piece, there are some things that aren’t too surprising: for example, the greatest use of the iPod was in foreign language and music classes, and there were many “inherent limitations” for using the iPod in teaching, such as tools for mixing audio with images.

But I was surprised about the problem of some of the sound quality of iPod recordings not being good enough to use. I have one of these $50 recording devices for my iPod and it seems to work fine to me. Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, I for one am interested in doing some podcasting sorts of things for an online class I’m teaching in the Fall; maybe they didn’t have much need for that at Duke.

I also think that iPods are useful (and might be useful for our students at EMU) simply as a portable hard drive. I haven’t tried to hook it up to a PC yet, but all I have to do to use it on a Mac is to plug it into an USB port. Very handy, if you ask me.

Of course, also easy to lose and/or steal, but that’s another story.

"Emerging Writing Technologies" search

Funny what you find when you’re not really looking for it. While trying to find something else with the search phrase “emerging writing technologies,” I found this essay by Jim Porter, “Why Technology Matters to Writing: A Cyberwriter’s Tale.” I’m linking it here because it just might help me to solve a problem I’ve been having with figuring out how to replace the “invent your own technology” assignment in my 328 class. Anyway, this post might only make sense to me, but Jim’s essay in pretty interesting.