Saturday, December 31, 2005

MLA on Revising Tenure

According to Inside Higher Ed, the MLA will soon be issuing a plan on revising tenure standards. At issue is the common tenure requirement of a monograph at a time when the number of monographs academic publishers are willing to take on, especially by first-time authors, is shrinking. Among other things, the proposal will argue for broadening the scope of what scholarship considered acceptable for tenure, for better advising practices, and for breaking down the distinctions between print and online work.
Thursday night, a special panel of the MLA offered the first glimpse at its plan to overhaul tenure — and in many ways the plans go well beyond the reforms Greenblatt proposed. As he suggested, the panel wants departments — including those at top research universities — to explicitly change their expectations such that there are “multiple pathways” to demonstrating research excellence, ending the expectation of publishing a monograph. But the panel does not appear likely to stop there.

It plans to propose that departments negotiate “memorandums of understanding” with new hires about what factors will go into their tenure reviews. It wants departments to end a bias that favors print over online publications. It wants to change the rules of how tenure candidates are evaluated, proposing that a limit of six be set on the number of outsider reviewers asked to look at a tenure candidate and that those outside reviewers no longer be asked certain questions that seem likely to doom some candidacies while adding little valuable information to an evaluation.

Domna C. Stanton, the MLA’s current president and a French studies professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, has led the work of the panel, and she remarked several times as members discussed the group’s ideas about how broad and significant they were. In an interview after the presentation, she said that these proposals could lead to revolutionary changes in the way faculty members start and advance in their academic careers.
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Digital Storytelling at the BBC

The BBC claims to have the world's largest archive of digital stories at Telling Lives: Your Digital Stories. They define digital stories as:
A digital story is a short film made from a script that tells a personal story illustrated with pictures from your photo album. The films are produced in workshops in which all the skills are taught. Everybody has a story to tell and anyone can learn the techniques. Discover how to write a script and use new technology to turn it into a short piece of television.
The site should provide a number of good examples and models for classroom new media projects.

See also the California based Center for Digital Storytelling, to which I've linked before.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

"Tools Interiorized"

Konrad Glogowski, winner of the 2005 Edublog "Best Newcomer" Award, has a post on developing community through blogging:
I have spent the last ten days creating a new blogging community for my students. The old one stopped working. I’ve been using Manila for the past two years but there have been too many problems lately. First, the IT team said it was a virus, then the aftermath of the virus, then compatibility issues. Finally, after many disruptions to our classroom blogging, I decided to take action and get new software and a new server.

As you can imagine, it was a lot of work. This whole experience, however, proved to be very enlightening from an educational point of view. [read more]
Cross posted to Notes from the Walter J. Ong Archive.

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Understanding New Media

Robert K. Logan, author of The Fifth Language: Learning a Living in the Computer Age, The Sixth Language: Learning a Living in the Internet Age, and The Alphabet Effect, is currently working on Understanding New Media: Extensions of Marshall McLuhan:

A new study is being made of the social impacts and history of the “new media” is a project called Understanding New Media: Extensions of Marshall McLuhan. The impact of the “new media” on the media McLuhan studied in Understanding Media: Extension of Man like radio, TV and the movies as well as the impact of “new media” themselves like the Internet, the World Wide Web, Blogs, Cell Phones, I-pods, etc.
drafts of chapters 1 and 7 are available for download as MS Word docs at

Cross posted to Notes from the Walter J. Ong Archive.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Ethnographies of Massively Multiplayer On-line Games

A collection of student term papers from a course titled "Games for the Web: Ethnography of Massively Multiplayer On-line Games."

via datacloud

Collaborative Learning: Group Work and Study Teams

Collaborative Learning: Group Work and Study Teams
[From the hard copy book Tools for Teaching by Barbara Gross Davis; Jossey-Bass Publishers: San Francisco, 1993. Linking to this book chapter from other websites is permissible. However, the contents of this chapter may not be copied, printed, or distributed in hard copy form without permission.]

Students learn best when they are actively involved in the process. Researchers report that, regardless of the subject matter, students working in small groups tend to learn more of what is taught and retain it longer than when the same content is presented in other instructional formats. Students who work in collaborative groups also appear more satisfied with their classes. (Sources: Beckman, 1990; Chickering and Gamson, 1991; Collier, 1980; Cooper and Associates, 1990; Goodsell, Maher, Tinto, and Associates, 1992; Johnson and Johnson, 1989; Johnson, Johnson, and Smith, 1991; Kohn, 1986; McKeachie, Pintrich, Lin, and Smith, 1986; Slavin, 1980, 1983; Whitman, 1988)

Various names have been given to this form of teaching, and there are some distinctions among these: cooperative learning, collaborative learning, collective learning, learning communities, peer teaching, peer learning, reciprocal learning, team learning, study circles, study groups, and work groups. But all in all, there are three general types of group work: informal learning groups, formal learning groups, and study teams (adapted from Johnson, Johnson, and Smith, 1991).
via cyberdash


Digital Humanities at MLA

The Association for Computers and the Humanities has put together a list of digital humanities sessions for the MLA 2005.

via Matthew G. Kirschenbaum.

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Fanboys/girls and Scholarship, or the Scholar as Otaku

I've been meaning to point to Michael Drout's post on Fanboys and Scholarship for over a month now, so here it is. As Drout argues, scholarship requires the focus of the otaku (yes, I realize that otaku traditionally refers to an obsessive interest in anime and manga and is considered a negative term by many. (Otaku, fangirl/boy, geek, and nerd are all contentious terms).

On my medievalist side, I've got a fairly stereotypical fanboy background as described by Drout. During the summer between 3rd and 4th grade I came across the The Chronicles of Narnia, and by the time I'd finished The Lord of the Rings in 5th grade, I began devouring fantasy and started playing Dungeons and Dragons. Fantasy led to science fiction and Dungeons and Dragons led to other role-playing games (I more or less gave up gaming upon starting graduate school, though I'd love to still play Ars Magica, a game set in "mythic Europe" and designed by people with degrees in medieval studies). As I mentioned during my 2004 MLA presentation on the Victorian reception of Old Norse literature and its influence on 20th Century heroic (i.e., sword and sorcery) fantasy, some of my aunts and uncles worried where these obsessions with fantasy literature and role-playing games would take me. Academia, naturally. After all, my 11th grade learn-how-to-write-a-research-paper research paper was on the development and use of heavy cavalry during the middle Ages....

Upon starting graduate school, my gaming and most of my fantasy/science fiction reading stopped. Outside of the Tolkien courses I took and then TAed for during my MA studies, I usually read a couple of fantasy/SF novels during the summer and one over winter break. At some point during my Ph.D. studies I fell back into reading both. Quite inevitable, possibly, when one teaches courses such as The Lord of the Rings and its medieval context and science fiction and when one's dissertation director has not only written and edited such books as Poems of Wisdom and Learning in Old English, The Critical Heritage: Beowulf, and The Shadow-walkers: Jacob Grimm's Mythology of the Monstrous, but The Road to Middle-earth, Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk and the Future of Narrative, and both the The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories and The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories.

Come to think of it, I can pinpoint this return to SF and fantasy to two events. While we were browsing in some used bookstore in Kansas City for a confernece, Shippey handed me a copy of Stephenson's Snow Crash and told me I needed to read it. And then, sometime later, while sitting in on Shippey's class on The Alliterative Tradition, he made the offhanded comment about Terry Pratchett, and when all he got was blank stares, he said, "Everyone should read Terry Pratchett." A few weeks later, a copy of the first book in Pratchett's Discworld series fell into my hands--literally, a friend lent the book to my wife, who doesn't read much science fiction or fantasy, she brought it on a trip back home to Colorado for Christmas and had finished it in the airport before the flight. Trying to be good, I'd brought a some scholarly book, which I couldn't concentrate on during the flight, so she handed it to me.

Academically, my obsessions are memory (rhetorical memory, literature as social memory, the technologies of memory, and memory and cognition); orality-literacy studies and media ecology (with a particular interest in oral-manuscript transitional culture, digital culture, how it pertains to the history and theory of rhetoric and composition, and literary reconstructions and representations of media cultures such as in A Canticle for Leibowitz, Early in Orcadia, The Tale of Old Mortality, and Ridley Walker; and traditions (the traditions of oral/manuscript/print/digital culture, rhetorical traditions, social memory and practices of memory, the traditions of composition, and medievalism, which, in its broadest sense, also includes speculative fiction (i.e., fantasy and science fiction)).

Of more traditional fanboy fare, I've currently got obsessions with Ghost in the Shell, and the works of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Speaking of which:

-I've just finished recording to DVD the 26th (and final) episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and I think I know which episodes I'm going to use in my science fiction course next term (I want to watch them in order to decide if 1) they make sense when viewed out of the larger narrative, and 2) if they really do represent the issues I want to touch on).

-Thud! The Boardgame, which is essentially the Discworld's version of a fox game (the two best known fox games are the English Foxes and Geese and the Scandinavian Halatafl, both of which I own versions of because while I have no desire to play the medieval á la the Society for Creative Anachronism (role-playing games of the non-live variety are a different thing), I do enjoy playing a medieval game now and then):
THUD– Officially Licensed DISCWORLD boardgame
Mongoose Publishing is proud to announce the release of THUD, an exciting DISCWORLD boardgame based on the battle between dwarfs and trolls, where players take the field in an all-out attempt to defeat their opponent. The fast-moving dwarfs must form up into defensive blocks as quickly as possible, before hurling their crazed axe-wielding comrades at the trolls. The slower, more ponderous, trolls must catch and clobber these whirling axe dervishes before they have a chance to properly organise...
and both Pratchett and Gaiman have released the New Year's resolutions, the demon Crowley and angel Aziraphale, Hell and Heaven's representatives on earth who team up to stop the apocalypse in Gaiman and Pratchett's comic novel Good Omens. My favorite from Crowley is
Resolution #7: On the orders of Head Office I will encourage the belief in Intelligent Design, because it upsets everyone.
and my favorite from Aziraphale is
Resolution #10: On the orders of Head Office I will encourage the belief in Intelligent Design – despite the fact that the human airway crosses the digestive tract. Who thought that was intelligent?
And since I'm on the subject of being a otaku/geek/nerd: I watched The Brothers Grimm last night, and I'm pretty sure Angelica was carrying a seax (in the OED as sax), a Germanic bladed tool/weapon that, linguistically, dates back to at least the proto-Germanic period and may have its roots in the proto Indo-European period (see Gustav Hübener's "Beowulf and Germanic Exorcism" in Review of English Studies 11 (1935): 163-181 and "Beowulf's 'Seax', the Saxons and the Indian Exorcism" in Review of English Studies 12 (1936): 429-439). A nice touch for a movie playing with two figures who helped invent the fields of comparative philology, comparative mythology, and folklore.

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Duke iPod Experiment Update

It seems, as I have argued earlier, that obituaries of Duke's iPod experiment were misguided:

The number of Duke University students using iPods in the classroom has quadrupled and the number of courses incorporating the devices has doubled in the second year of an effort to mesh digital technology with academics. [read more]
via Inside Higher Ed


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Wiki Pedagogy & Social Software Affordances

Two teaching resources I want to remember: Wiki Pedagogy, an article, and Social Software Affordances, a syllabus.

Wiki Pedagogy (article)
This article endeavours to denote and promote pedagogical experimentations concerning a Free/Open technology called a "Wiki". An intensely simple, accessible and collaborative hypertext tool Wiki software challenges and complexifies traditional notions of - as well as access to - authorship, editing, and publishing. Usurping official authorizing practices in the public domain poses fundamental - if not radical - questions for both academic theory and pedagogical practice.

The particular pedagogical challenge is one of control: wikis work most effectively when students can assert meaningful autonomy over the process. This involves not just adjusting the technical configuration and delivery; it involves challenging the social norms and practices of the course as well (Lamb, 2004). Enacting such horizontal knowledge assemblages in higher education practices could evoke a return towards and an instance upon the making of impossible public goods” (Ciffolilli, 2003).
Social Software Affordances (syllabus)
Course Description
'Social software' has become a convenient label to group a new generation of socio-technical systems (mostly web based) that facilitate human expression, communication, and collaboration. Examples of social software include content management systems such as blogs, knowledge and collaboration management systems such as wikis, relationship management systems such as Friendster and Orkut, distributed classification systems such as and furl, and the use of RSS feeds to distribute information to specific audiences.
Social software represents the promise of truly networked human communities extending across the online and offline dimensions of reality. But beyond the hype, a critical approach to social software is necessary in order to explore its impact and possibilities. During this course, we will (individually and collectively) address some of the following questions:

* What is 'social' about social software?
* How is the notion of community being redefined by social software?
* What aspects of our humanity stand to gain or suffer as a result of our use of and reliance on social software?
* How is social agency shared between humans and code in social software?
* What are the social repercussions of unequal access to social software?
* What are the pedagogical implications of social software for education?
* Can social software be an effective tool for individual and social change?
* What general principles can we identify for designing social software? How would we apply those principles in the design of a particular social software application?
* What general principles can we identify for evaluating social software?
How would we use those principles to measure the effectiveness of a particular social software application?
I thought I'd come across these two either at Weblogg-ed or Educational Weblogs, but I'm not finding reference to them any more at either site.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

iPod 101

Apple's put together an "iPod 101" site as a one-stop spot for iPod information:
If you're a new iPod owner or simply need a refresher course on how to get the most out of your iPod, you've come to the right place. Welcome to iPod 101: Your guide to rockin' out, gettin' down, and boogieing with your iPod, iPod nano, iPod mini, or iPod shuffle.

Whether you're a Mac or Windows user, iPod 101 contains tons of information that'll help you enjoy your iPod to its fullest and guide you on your way to becoming iTunes savvy (we're using iTunes 6 in our course materials). Get ready to walk through the virtual aisles of the iTunes Music Store; learn how to sync your music, contacts, calendars, and more; admire your pretty pictures (and force others to do the same); watch TV shows and video; and find out what to do when things don't go as planned.
via Lifehacker.

Yule in Iceland

It's early December, which means the Yule in Iceland Web site is up. Oh, wait, I see it's now up year-round, but the Jólasveinar don't start appearing until Dec. 12. When I was in Iceland, I picked up a multi-language children's book on the Jólasveinarnir, which has the section on each of the lads (the text is in Icelandic, English, German, Norwegian, and, I want to say, Swedish and/or French). Without a doubt, however, my favorite Icelandic Yule tradition is the Jólaköttur.

Welcome to Iceland and the Yule Traditions and Yule Lore found here. On these pages you will find some information about Yule traditions in ancient and modern times.

Jólasveinarnir, The Yuletide Lads, will visit these pages starting on December 12th, as you can see in the list at the left. The Icelandic Jólasveinar leave small gifts for good children, who put their shoes on the windowsill at night. The Jólasveinar will also leave a Cyber-gift for you each day, as they arrive in town from the mountains, where they live for most of the year.

We are using the English word Yule instead of Christmas as we want to emphasize the close connection the English and Icelandic languages had in the past when the tongues were essentially the same.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Epic 2014

I first saw the 8 minute flash movie Epic 2014 last year when it information about it was first making the rounds. I'm posting a link to it here mostly to remind myself (this is, after all, my artificial memory system), but if you haven't seen it, take a look.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

LookLater: An Anti-social Bookmarking Service

LookLater: "Instant searchable bookmarks in your own FREE and PRIVATE on-line archive." According to Lifehacker, LookLater is like, but your bookmarks are private.