Monday, January 3, 2011


  • How is the resolution to blog every day in 2011 going? Not too shabby. Not too shabby, at all.
  • Shabby or shabbily? Shab. Shabulous.
  • IHE today reports that distance ed critic David Noble died last week at the age of 65. I read an article or two by Noble in 2004, but I never did get around to picking up his book, Digital Diploma Mills. I should, though. In fact, it undoubtedly connects with work I'm doing lately (and in the semester to come) to shift EMU's UWC into online consultation. Also, for that matter, stuff like power adjuncting (a topic of fascination for me more than anything else) and, too, the dissoi logoi that for all of our belly-aching about automaticity in higher ed (in the humanities, particularly), there are a whole lot of ways in which we could better adopt and apply automation to some aspects of our work, especially where long-term data-keeping is at issue. Anyway, I live in an Automation Alley county, surely indicative of something.
  • Winter semester begins Wednesday. I am teaching a Tuesday night grad class, ENGL516: Computers and Writing: Theory and Practice (the titular colonpede tempts me to add another segment: 011000010111011101100101011100110110111101101101011001010000110100001010).
  • That we meet on Tuesday the 11th for the first session leaves me no other choice than to assign two articles for the first class. Right? Right! I am mildly concerned the articles will be met with a chorus of "Shabulous!" Besides the grad class, I have a faculty consulting appointment in the UWC (mentioned that earlier) and then a course release carried over from last semester from an internal research grant. My plan is to make this the hardest working semester ever and actually get a couple, maybe three, of these two-thirds finished projects sent off by May.
  • Ph. flies back to Kansas City on Saturday, ending his month-long visit. I guess this can only mean I owe him a day snowboarding at Alpine Valley, probably tomorrow.
  • Will put together a slow-cooker lentil soup so that everybody has something hot and good to come home to. They might be thinking this tastes shabulous, but their mouths will be too full to say it.
  • Last thing: Weird about the fallen birds in Arkansas, right? I mean, 1,000 birds within one square mile? The question I can't put down is to what extent this is rhetorical--a rhetorical happening, perhaps purely of nature's precarious course. We don't know a cause. But then! A school of fish were found belly up in the Arkansas River a few days later, and, according to one report, "Investigators said there is no connection between the dead fish and the dead birds." No connection? If these are rare events whose cause(s) remain(s) unknown(s) and they are geographically proximate, why assert that they are disconnected? Even if it is too early to identify a causal connection, their coincidence does foist upon them at least a choral connection. Then again, what better than "no connection" and "this happens all the time" to suppress panic. (Reminds me of this entry on dropping paper messenger "birds" during wartime)

    Saw a clever tweet linking this curious event with taking Angy Birds too seriously. I'm inclined to relate it to Twitter, though, more along the lines of subjecting my own Twitter account to "lightning or high-altitude hail." To be continued.

    More: a turn to labs for answers. Though still no speculation about zombie scarecrows.
Bookmark and Share Posted by at January 3, 2011 10:25 AM to Unspecified

Glad to see you back in the blogosphere, D. I hope you had a great holiday.

By the way, I'm also teaching a 3-hour night class this semester. Do you have any pointers for planning for a 3 hour block? I have plenty of content for my students to read and discuss, but having this much time in a class at this level is a first for me.

Posted by: Tamika at January 3, 2011 11:43 PM

Yeah, trying to blog a bit more often. We'll see. I do feel like there is something distinctive about blogging that loosens me up as a writer, and I haven't been able to find a comparable habit or experience with other stream-like or short-form platforms.

I don't have a lot of experience with the 3-hour timeframe, either. But I tend to think of it as more like two 75-minute blocks with a break somewhere in the middle. The first 75-minute block, as I think of it, will be more structured, more built around an agenda. Students will take turns as co-discussion leaders (two per class session for several weeks) during the first half of class. I will also organize the first halves of classes with questions, mini-lectures, or some sort of conceptual framework that I expect to emerge over the first half of the semester.

As for the second half of class, I imagine those 75-minute blocks doing any of the following: 1) responding as a group to contingencies that arise in the first half of class, 2) elaborating upon or clarifying project-assignments-in-progress, 3) reading and responding to each others' writing, or 4) getting hands-on time with the computers to examine a particular web site, application, or platform. The class is focused on technology, of course, so it makes sense to dig in while we are together as a group.

I don't know whether any of this will prove useful, but it's generally how I've been thinking about what is possible in three hours. Many of the students in our MA program work full time, so as the 9:30 p.m. end time approaches, I expect signs of fatigue. I'm trying to dial up the level of activity toward the end of class for this reason.

What is the class you are teaching? And are you thinking differently about chunking the three hours into more focused blocks?

Posted by: Derek at January 4, 2011 11:58 AM

I'm teaching a 4000-level Special Topics course on Black Women's Writing and Rhetoric. Aside from the challenge of not making it a Black Feminist Theory class, I only have six students enrolled right now and I doubt that many of them have a background in rhetoric. So, I've been thinking about the 75 minute-block approach too because I am sure I'll need to do some mini-lectures to give my students a framework early on. This is new and challenging territory.

Your set up looks good, especially since you have some hands on activities built into the course.

Posted by: Tamika at January 5, 2011 12:00 PM

Sounds like a terrific class, T.--certainly one I would like to see offered here. I agree wholly re: "new and challenging," but I'm hopeful that it proves every bit as energizing as were some of my own experiences taking classes.

By the way, it comes up here fairly frequently that undergraduates aren't sufficiently grounded in rhetorical concepts. Perhaps the best we can do is select a couple of rhetorical principles to work through and build upon in a semester.

Posted by: Derek at January 5, 2011 2:59 PM