Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Where'd you put my laser pointer, Bart?
Voice: "Will the revolution be blogged?"
All the people: "Hell yeah!"
Got that out the way. It's been said a time or two--it won't be blogged, it will be blogged, it won't be blogged--so many daisy petals, so few revolutions. I'm wanting to talk shop here, talk pedagogy tonight, but I'm in the midst of a set of mini-essays from humanities on Geertz' Balinese cockfight and the notion of common ground. Sore eyes. A few loose ends of prep for Thursday a.m.
About that: we're using the EN106 blog this week as a note-sharing space. I'm using all of the links from TWiaOW for the Point/PowerPoint sequence and then some. We're basically reading the issue of efficiency in poorly conceived slide shows--the rationing of language brought on by bullet points with the ever-popular PP program. We're also using the sequence as a way to talk about the articles and information credibility, especially as it applies to blog entries. Here are the links from the PPT sequence, in case anyone is interested in how the popular business software continues to get attention (and not because it's in the biggest letters, as BULLET POINT A):
Makes You Dumb, New York Times
PowerPoint ReMix, Aaron Swartz: The Weblog
ET on Columbia Evidence-Analysis of Key Slide
Turning Heads With PowerPoint, Wired News
PowerPoint Is Evil, Wired
Learning to Love PowerPoint, Wired
The Level of Discourse Continues to Slide, New York Times(PDF)
Absolute PowerPoint, New Yorker
Here are a few others I've added:
Bullet Points may be Dangerous, But Don't Blame PowerPoint, Presentations.com
Don't Blame the Tool - Reader Responses, Presentations.com
To Avoid the Perils of PowerPoint, take a kid's-eye view, Presentations.com
PowerPoint has Always been the Point, Presentations.com
Can This Off-Site Be Saved, Fast Company
Honestly, this list serves a second purpose. I want to be able to send it any time I receive a PowerPoint show that would work better as a traditionally formatted page. Since I started thinking about this sequence, my inflow of PowerPoint shows at work is at an all time high. Maybe PowerPoint is soo powerful that the mounting of critiques creates some kind of karmic vacuum--PowerPoint skepticism met cosmically by a surge of colorfully-themed shows rushed to the doubter's inbox. Two shows were sent my way in the past week. One was a self-evaluation for whether or not you (dear reader) would be a fit candidate for teaching courses online. (Slide One: Are you technically proficient with checking email?) The other involves staff encounters with media--how to talk to reporters. (Slide Fourteen: 1. Speak in short, concise sentences. There is no such thing as "off the record.") Time for an analysis likening PowerPoint to The Blob. Seriously.
I've got to get back to finishing touches on my night's work (which, sorry to say, blog, ain't this). But I wanted to plant another seed about divergent uses for blogs in teaching composition. I've been following the discussions about the ways blogs hinge on concomitant reading and writing (via here and here) and also about the way blogs might be put to fairly limited uses by some composition teachers (here). I can't say that I'm addressing all or any of those important concerns in this entry, but I am happy to chronicle my own discovery and rediscovering this semester of the social dimension of blogs. Blogs turn narrow conceptions of reading and writing as private, independent, and isolationist upside down in favor of an extracurricular literacy network--a connected arena of extraspatial (beyond the walls we meet between) contact and community. And, of course, there's more to it than I can plow through just now in the interest of convening tomorrow as a potentially jubilant day. But I want to note the latest activity I'm toying with--a kind of bum-rush annotated bibliography via course blog--and say that I'm not sure how I would have done it better before blogs converged with my teaching. In short, students in teams (two to an article) are writing summative paragraphs for the first six articles from the set listed above. We'll review the notes as a group next Tuesday, talk about ways the sources might contribute to their upcoming essay projects and so on. Setting a category and enabling a simple search makes it possible for students to access and share work they've done outside of class time. Admittedly, this is my first semester teaching with a weblog, so I can't be sure what will happen. I suppose that's what we could use--a record of best practices, if only anecdotal evidence, of the many ways weblogs are growing the possibilities for invigorating pedagogy.