… I thought I’d throw out the the chance for folks looking for grad school credit and/or a course in computers and writing to sign up for the class I’m scheduled to teach for winter term, English 516: Computers and Writing, Theory and Practice. There’s a description here; anyone really interested can email me at stevendkrause at gmail dot com.
It’s been kind of a weird late fall/early winter around here. EMU students have been traditionally slow to register for winter (what everyone else calls spring) term classes, mostly because even in the best of times, our students need to settle their accounts for fall before they can register for winter, and they often don’t register until right before Christmas or right before the semester starts in early January. But nowadays, the economy in southeast Michigan is in poor shape, and I think that and other things are having an impact.
Right now, it looks to me like my class has enough students to “make,” but I would just as soon run this class full or over-loaded, and it occurred to me that there might be a few folks out there who might either be interested themselves or know someone. I know that EMU graduate students not in the writing program can take the course with the instructor’s permission; I don’t know how it would work for someone not at EMU, but I’m sure we could make it work and it would potentially be a fun/cool experience for one and all.
Anyway, like I said, if you’re interested, let me know.
The theme of the conference is “Open Source as Technology and Concept,” which I might or might not ignore, depending on what I decide to propose. My plan, which may or may not be acted upon ultimately, is to drive down with Steve B. and Bill HD and to bring the golf clubs. Besides many fine courses around Athens, I figure we can play on the way there and/or back. We’ll see how it turns out.
While I am certain (almost) I’m going to C&W this year, it does beg the “how many conferences” question. Originally, I was planning on going to the CCCCs this year, despite having my proposal rejected in a problematic fashion. But without going into any details right now, it is beginning to look like I’m going to a different conference in mid-April, and that has raised the “Is this Conference Necessary?” question for me. I am not quite the jet-setting academic eluded to in this article, but like most folks who are “active scholars,” I still go to a few conferences a year. Of course, at this stage, attending conferences is lot less important than when I was a grad student seeking a job (and needing to have something to put on my CV) or when I was a tenure/promotion-seeking professor. I spent quite a bit of student loan money going to conferences simply because it helped me get a job, and I spent a fair amount of time at whatever conference in order to keep my job. Now? Well, the mileage isn’t quite the same. Actually the mileage is pretty much zero, career-wise.
So, since conferences don’t count for me much anymore, I get to make choices. And I think I’m going to choose Athens and choose to stay home from New Orleans. Though I could easily change my mind.
Here’s a 6:18 video of my trip to New York City and the National Council for Teachers of English conference:
This little video is an unusual project for me because it’s very much a mixture of my “official” and my “unofficial” lives. Of course, conferences tend to be spaces where there is inevitably a blending of serious/scholarly things (giving papers, attending sessions, etc.) and not-so-serious/friendly things (cocktails with colleagues in the field, dinners, travel, touring, etc.). Anyway, since our session was about film/video making and writing, I thought I’d give it a shot.
I had a very mixed experience at the conference, frankly. On the one hand, I thought our panel was fantastic– great people, everyone was super-duper prepared, everyone had really interesting projects, everyone was really really smart and cool and all the rest, etc., etc. As I said in my NCTE prelude post, I went into this panel kind of as an accident and as a result of the CSW movie I made. I mean, I didn’t have that much specific interest in making movies, certainly not as a writing teacher. But I came out of this session really jazzed about the possibilities I saw from my fellow presenters, about diving into FinalCut Pro (or Express) and trying my hand at Garage Band, etc.
And I also had excellent “not-so-serious/friendly” activities at the conference. I got to hang out with my former colleague and still fantastic friend Annette S. a bit, I met a new bunch of people, I had a great dinner and great conversation with folks from the computer and writing world, Doug Eyman, Mike Palmquist, and Nick Carbone. Not to mention tourism in New York.
But on the whole, I’ve got to say that NCTE is not really my conference.
First off, we only had about 10 or so people in the audience. Now, normally, that wouldn’t be that big of a deal to me– I mean, let’s face it, that’s kind of par for the course at most conference presentations. But we were a “Featured Presentation,” we had an ideal time slot, and we had a hot topic– or so we thought. The only guess I have as to why the crowd was so small was because NCTE really is mostly about K-12, and those folks just aren’t interested in things like making movies in writing classes.
Second, the facility where this was being held was a problem. The amenities were, um, incomplete. We did a lot of planning via email before this session, and one of the concerns many in the group had was what sort of sound system we would have– or not have. Pete Vandenberg saved us on that score by bringing along a great system. We had assumed all along that we were covered with a projector to show the movies, but it turned out the projector the NCTE folks were prepared to provide was of the overhead variety. Fortunately, we did not have perform our movies; I brought a projector along from school as a plan B. I could go on, though I think this is whiny enough. All I’m saying is that if conferences like the NCTE (or the CCCCs, for that matter) actually want to give opportunities to presenters to talk about technology, they need to provide some basic technology.
But enough complaining. I had fun, I made it home, I’m ready for this coming week. Sort of.
I have about 15 tabs open in my browser with things I have been meaning to read and/or blog about. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this now, so here’s a whole bunch of stuff that might be useful and/or interesting later, mostly in terms of teaching but some scholarship, too:
And finally, “Bill Runs a Marathon,” which is Bill Hart-Davidson’s new blog where he accounts for his training for the big run. I don’t know if that is official or unofficial stuff, but I’ll put it here now.
I had a fine time working with the fine folks at Kairos, especially Mike Edwards and Cheryl Ball. Cheryl asked me a while back if I was interested in this process of revamping the article, and Mike did a great job of leading me through the process. I’m thankful for their advice and help, and I hope that folks out there find this second version interesting and helpful and all the rest.
Here’s a great link/reference to cite the next time I am indirectly or directly in a conversation with someone about the dangers of the Internets for K-12 teachers: via boing boing, “School boards: The Internet is safe and we should use it more.” This discusses and links to some other discussions of a study from a group called the National School Board Association (which seems a tad on the conservative side, actually) that basically says that a lot of the things that have been cited over the years by schools for being afraid of the internet is bogus. Here is a link to a PDF version of the report, though I couldn’t find any direct/indirect mention of it on the NSBA web site. Here’s a quote of a quote from boing boing on all this:
In light of these findings, they’re recommending that school districts may want to “explore ways in which they could use social networking for educational purposes” â€” and reconsider some of their fears. It won’t be the first time educators have feared a new technology, the study warns. “Many schools initially banned or restricted Internet use, only to ease up when the educational value of the Internet became clear. The same is likely to be the case with social networking.
“Safety policies remain important, as does teaching students about online safety and responsible online expression â€” but student may learn these lesson better while they’re actually using social networking tools.”
A good thing for things like 516, and probably a link to send on to my colleagues in English Education.
It’s funny how some of these things link together– or maybe how I make links between them:
While browsing my google reader feed this morning, I came across this article from Inside Higher Ed, “Ward Churchill Fired.” Old news, but basically Churchill was let go by the University of Colorado because (officially, at least) because of what has been called “overwhelming evidence” of scholarly misconduct. When this case was still an issue, I wrote on my blog and on the Inside Higher Ed site that Churchill shouldn’t be fired because of some unpopular views on 9/11. But when it turns out that he was cheating in his scholarship, well, that’s a different story. Still, I think this paragraph sort of sums up my feelings about the whole thing:
The meaning of the Churchill case has been heatedly debated over the past two-plus years. To Churchill and his defenders, he is a victim of politics and of a right wing attack on freedom of thought. To Brown and others at the university, Churchillâ€™s case is not about politics at all about enforcing academic integrity and punishing those who donâ€™t live up to basic rules of research honesty. To many others in academe, the Churchill case has been less clearcut. Many academics have said that they are troubled by both the findings of research misconduct against Churchill and by the reality that his work received intense scrutiny only after his political views drew attention to him.
This article lead me to this interesting blog post by Aaron Barlow on a blog that I will probably add to my feed reading called Free Exchange on Campus. Barlow’s post is trying to parse through the meaning of the Churchill case in complex terms so I won’t try to simplify it here, but I admire his efforts of trying to sort it out.
Anyway, reading Barlow’s post lead me to another post on the Free Exchange on Campus blog that lead me to this, “University Publishing in A Digital Age,” on another site I ought to add to the feed, Ithaka, which is site about promoting “the productive uses of information technologies for the benefit of higher education worldwide.” Here’s the abstract of this piece:
Scholars have a vast range of opportunities to distribute their work, from setting up web pages or blogs, to posting articles to working paper websites or institutional repositories, to including them in peer-reviewed journals or books. In American colleges and universities, access to the internet and World Wide Web is ubiquitous; consequently nearly all intellectual effort results in some form of â€œpublishingâ€�. Yet universities do not treat this function as an important, mission-centric endeavor. The result has been a scholarly publishing industry that many in the university community find to be increasingly out of step with the important values of the academy.
This paper argues that a renewed commitment to publishing in its broadest sense can enable universities to more fully realize the potential global impact of their academic programs, enhance the reputations of their institutions, maintain a strong voice in determining what constitutes important scholarship, and in some cases reduce costs.
I haven’t had a chance to read the full report yet, though I kind of wish it had come out a few weeks/months ago. Forthcoming in Kairos is going to be “Version 2.0” of an article I had originally had published in College Composition and Communication Online, “Where Do I list this on my CV? Considering the Value of Self-Published Web Sites.” Had I known about this Ithaka report earlier, some of what’s in the abstract here might have been good to incorporate in this revised article. Oh well; at least my thinking now and in 2002 are in line with some others.
Or at least that’s the possible claim in this TechCrunch post, “Could Facebook Become The Next Microsoft?” This is kind of a wonky post about Facebook seems to be going the route of Microsoft in the past and Google in the present in becoming the number one destination on the internet by incorporating all sorts of different applications and the like.
I don’t know much about that, but I do know that Facebook has become more popular in my own house recently: my wife, Annette Wannamaker,
has joined the Facebook party.
I thought this was pretty cool: Via TechCrunch comes the above subway-styled map of Internet trends. It was developed by a company/group/whatever called Information Architects Japan, and they have several sizes of the image available here. Suitable for a desktop background, IA suggests.
What I think is potentially interesting about this page is that it represents a bunch of sites I know nothing about, so it’ll give me some ideas of stuff to check out sooner than later.
A substitute teacher was granted a new trial Wednesday after her conviction for failing to prevent students from viewing pornography on her computer raised thorny questions about who is ultimately responsible for screening unsavory online material.
The woman, Julie Amero, 40, of Windham, Conn., adamantly denied clicking on pornographic Web sites that appeared on her classroomâ€™s computer screen in October 2004 while she was teaching seventh-graders at Kelly Middle School in Norwich.
Amero was convicted in January on four counts of risk of injury to a minor, but computer security experts and bloggers across the political spectrum rallied to Ameroâ€™s defense when evidence later emerged that her computer had been infected with spyware that caused pop-up ads to take over the screen.
First off, I don’t quite understand the way the law worked in this case– was this thrown out on appeal? Did a judge look at the jury’s decision and say “oh, this is just stupid,” and call for a new trial? It kind of sounds like the second one happened.
But second, I’m glad that someone came to their senses. I’m too lazy to go back and look at those articles now, but the level of dumb bunny -ness demonstrated by the jurors and other participants in the last trial on all this was startling. So Amero is getting a version of justice here for sure, but jeez, what an awful year or so it has been for her.