Ends and Begins

I turned in grades a few minutes ago, so my semester has officially ended.
I taught an online seniors-only section of WRT205 this semester. As far as
I know, it’s the first time the Writing Program offered the course in exactly
this way (online and for seniors). At this stage, there’s not a whole lot
I can say for the course. It tends to enroll students who didn’t complete
this sophomore-level writing course (emphasizing textual research) when they
were sophomores. Or juniors. Certainly there is an inherent obstacle
in their putting off this course for any number of reasons, ranging from bad
experiences (withdrawing) to more enticing course offerings to presumptions
about the tortures of academic writing. On this, the last last day of the
semester, I’d be hesitant to describe what took shape over the past sixteen
weeks as an unqualified success. Good at times, and less good at other times.
The general attitude toward online courses at SU seems to me–given admittedly
limited experience teaching online for SU–to be one of avoidance or
disengagement. The online course isn’t the scene students flock toward for more
lively, engaging, and rigorous experiences.

Shoot, all of that sounds fairly grim, doesn’t it? Let me say this,
then. While this isn’t the ideal way for students to take a required
sophomore-level writing course (online, I mean, and in their final semesters of
undergraduate studies), there were impressive projects and bright moments.
One student worked at the knot where systems for juvenile punishment tie messily
in with effective rehabilitation efforts (looking, that is, at how such
institutions risk reinscribing criminality). Another project sorted
through the uses of Latour and SNA for understanding the complexity of the
United Nations. And then there was
this project,
a sequence on interactivity influenced by McCloud.

As much for my successful prospectus hearing as for capping WRT205, I’m
relieved the semester is over. Next, I’m headed to Detroit for Computers
and Writing. Aside from trips to Arizona and Michigan in June and teaching
an online course for old U. and moving, what’s left will be filled up with the