Joho the BlogMay 2011 - Page 3 of 3 - Joho the Blog

May 5, 2011

[collabtech] Blurring classroom control

I’m at CollabTech at Case Western, and came in late on a session about blurring the lines of ontrol in classrooms.

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

As I come in, Bill Deal is talking about encouraging students to tweet material related to the class. The students took to it, posting links to materials from around the Web. They averaged about 15 tweets (if I got that right). He says he’s tried other tech in classrooms, but this one really worked. In response to a question, he says that there was no interaction among twitterers outside of the class; they discussed using a hashtag, but some students wanted to keep their tweets private-ish.

Bernard Jim talks about his experience teaching 17-student seminars in which the students are expected to produce knowledge, not just consume it. He says the physical geography of the classroom puts all the tech at the front of the room, under the teacher’s control. [Surely they have laptops, though.] He begins each session by playing a song relevant to the day’s topic, and invites the students to play their music. The students initially resist this, but then take it up. The aim is for them to take possession of the tech in the classroom. He also wants them to understand that their cultural experiences are relevant to the course. (Bernard is a cultural historian.)

For example, he has them reading Burke on the sublime, who references Milton. “So, I’m teaching an 18th century philosophy who references a 17th century poet, to 21st century students who can be put off by a movie if it’s in black and white.” Burke asks what a frightening sound is: “a low tremulous intermitting sound.” So, Bernie plays a YouTube of the Halloween theme, to try to connect their experience to Burke.

Sometimes the students bring in their own references. E.g., in a class on letters discussing a letter from Abelard to Heloise (or was it vice versa), they brought in “Dramatic Reading of a Break-up Letter.”

In a different class they were talking about hypermasculinity, as in some of Michelangelo. The students responded with College Humor’s Power Thirst.

He also has a class on puzzles, which is “an extremely interactive class.” Once a week they have a puzzle challenge. On Pi Day (3/14), they took the Pi Day Challenge, up on the big screen. “You have a whole bunch of students yelling at me, which is what I like.”

Q: Do you ever get inappropriate student suggestions?
A: Yes, sometimes.
A: [bill deal] One tweet was “Great film of boobies” that turned out to be about birds.

Michael Kenney who teaches chemistry provided Kindles to 50 students. A third loved it. A third thought it was great for reading books, so they gave it to their parents [he says jokingly]. And a third sold it on ebay. Within class, it usefully kept all their texts in one place, although the lack of a file structure was a problem. But he got sued. ‘[He doesn’t say why and I didn’t find any info on a quick search.]

So, now they use the Entourage eDGe, which has a touch-sensitive Android tablet on one side and an ebook reader on the other. He’s hoping students can use these as their lab notebooks. [See Jean-Claude Bradley’s open notebook idea.] So far, he’s having the same results as with the Kindle. For one thing, the OS is underpowered and out of date. The eDGe concept “is very good, but it’s not going to replace” analog devices. His sits on a shelf, unused.

Q: [me] Have you connected with J-C Bradley.
A: Yes. Our aim is to have a cloud-based note-taking system. Bradley’s ideas are very good,.

Christine Hudak [twitter:infomatics1] , in the nursing school, has her students use twitter feeds to keep up with the ever-changing info. All the nursing students had to tweet, because social media are now being used with patients in hospitals. No personal tweets were allowed, although some students ignored that rule. They also had a private Facebook group page that they used for info sharing and communicating about projects; it was strictly student-driven. Christine didn’t see it until the end of the semester, and was very impressed. The page is being passed on to next year’s class.

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May 4, 2011

Open Access soars

Some facts and stats, compiled at PoeticEconomics:

# of open access journals : over 6,000. Growth rate: 4 per day.

# of freely available journals: over 28,000. Growth rate: 10 per day.

# of open access repositories: close to 2,000 . Growth rate: 1 per day.

# of documents freely available: 25 million. Growth rate: 6,000 per day.

# of open access mandate policies: 271. Growth rate: 1 per week or 5 per month.

% of world’s scholarly literature that is freely available: 20%

The sources are here.

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May 2, 2011

Here for your comparative purposes are the routines by Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent Dinners of 2011 and 2006 respectively. (By the way, you will be comparing not just the comedians, but also the presidents.)

And then, just to show how upset they were with Colbert’s display of gigantic cojones, here’s who they brought in the following year:

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May 1, 2011

A big question

Why did the world shatter at the touch of a hyperlink?

Newspapers, encyclopedias, record companies, telephones, politics, education, analytics, scientifics, genetics, libraries, mass media, high culture, television, classrooms, assholism, channels, columns, stations, tours, travel, marketing, picketing, knitting, hectoring, picturing, gossiping, friendship redefined, attention redefined, leadership redefined, defamation redefined, curating, editing, publishing, correcting, crowds, mobs, shopping, bar-hopping, catalogs, sing-alongs, fact-checking, being together, being apart, staying together, moving on. Social forms and major institutions, many set in the Earth on stone foundations, fell down at the flick of a hyperlink.

How could that have happened?

Every discipline has its answer: economics, business, media, anthropology, sociology, religion, linguistics. You name it, and they have a theory. Of course they do because the collapse of institutions is a big deal, so the biggest deal frameworks have to provide some hypothesis.

We need all those explanations, and we need them all at once. All I’d add is that part of the explanation is that we knew all along that atoms were never up to the job. We knew that the world doesn’t boil down to even the best of newspapers, that it doesn’t fit into 65,000 articles in a printed encyclopedia, that there was more disagreement than the old channels let through. (What they called noise, we called the the world.) We knew that the crap pushed through the radio wasn’t really all that we cared about, or that we all cared about the same things within three tv channels of difference. The old institutions were the best fictions we could come up with given that atoms are way too big.

The old institutions were more fragile than we let ourselves believe. They were fragile because they made the world small. A bigger truth burst them. The world is more like a messy, inconsistent, ever-changing web than like a curated set of careful writings. Truth burst the world made of atoms.

Yes, there is infinite space on the Web for lies. Nevertheless, the Web’s architecture is a better reflection of our human architecture. We embraced as if it were always true, and as if we had known it all along, because it is and we did.

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