Monday, April 12, 2010

The Nights and Days of Ning

This is a follow-up to Scott's posting on our two classes' initial Ning experience--first I whole-heartedly second Scott's comments on the spontaneous connecting that seems to be going on in the Ning--students are posting to each other and to me about things both directly and indirectly related to our class discussion and texts. For example Jose Lopez posted this query over the weekend: Yesterday afternoon I was doing some research on Albert Camus and came across a review for a book called Albert Camus Algerian: Colonialism, Terrorism, Justice by David Carroll that discusses Camus relationship with Algeria and the affects of colonialism on his writing. Since our class is focusing on colonialism and hybridity, I was wondering what others felt about Camus' connection with colonialism. I was pleased that Jose took the initiative to ask the class a question that went beyond our texts and brought in another important voice--since this is a capstone course I want to encourage this kind of independent thinking and connecting--to other texts and to each other.
Also on the positive side, I am especially interested in Scott's comments in his last post about how students dismissed race as a factor in crime and that a fairly conservative group might learn some new things from a more advanced class--hope I am restating this accurately--Scott observes, you can almost measure the level of thinking by looking at the posts--I hadn't thought about this in particular as I was so busy this week making sure they all got in and posted but I think it is important and something that might give us some new insights--even having students reflect on particular posts--asking some questions about what shaped their views, changed their views, for example.
On the glitchy side--I am still figuring out a lot about Ning--with help from Dr. X. and like Scott I do not have a lab and don't want to devote a whole hour of our class to a lab. But I am thinking of getting a lab for one class soon just to make sure all the students know how to navigate it--blogging has moved from 1/4 to 1/2 to 2/3 of the class but there are still some outliers. I don't want to penalize them if they are really having difficulty and some are...Ximena helped me thread the discussions which makes them easier to read as a group--but I am still finding navigation on Ning and even here on blogger confusing (how do I get back to main page to check something someone wrote and come back here quickly)--and finally--not to be too picky--when I want to quote a student and I copy text--it comes out GIANT and distorts other parts of the post. I copied into word and put it in with correct font--but when I saved and went back it was GIANT again--this is annoying and time consuming--do I need to compose the entire post outside blogger to have it format correctly????
Finally, moving forward--we are about to start discussing women's issues and I am open to new connections. I have also enjoyed connecting with Scott and would like to continue--I think there is a benefit to having our students get to know each other over time and think the communication will improve--there was a beginning of back and forth on a few posts. Scott 's students are studying the American justice system and my class will be looking at global issues for women that are a product of patriarchy. While there is some overlap, and certainly women suffer abuse in this country, in many other countries we will be discussing, women have far fewer rights and less access to the legal system. Some of Scott's students said that the text my students talked about sounded really interesting so I am wondering if I could share a shorter text/film that would deal with justice and women in a way that would be useful for his students--maybe a comparison of rights--will be talking in person with Scott about this--any suggestions welcome! That's all for now :)


  1. Hey Dr. Van--

    I hope you are ok that I changed your font size; I can help you with that later today perhaps. :-)

  2. Post script: Monday evening my students wanted to know what Scott and I thought about their blogs with Criminal Justice and I shared Scott's comment that he liked their "level of thinking" and that it was helpful to his intro level students--they were very pleased and it occurred to me that it is important to share our responses to the whole experience, not just to individuals. . .