Thursday, March 31, 2011
Any ideas? I need at least 4G, Graphic card, fast enough processor to run video, elevated keyboard (I hate flat keys!), at least 15.5 inch screen and in the 500-600 dollar range. I've been told that HP has an educational discount and will create my own little machine, but it won't ship until April 21.
SECOND: The graphic novel is on hold until next week. Here's a no-brainer: I may use Powerpoint (I hear cringing!) to set up the bubble for cartoon speak and then have the students import them into our blog.
THIRD: Aside from the real nightmare of trying to recuperate from a hefty viral onslaught, I am trying to come up with a way of having students contribute to each other's summary/prep for the "drawing stage." We ARE going to publish this thing once complete! I'm determined to do so! But, I need to come up with some pointed (as I see some of you have skillfully done) prompts leading to better blogs.
I am also having second thoughts about "just plain bloggging," because it makes me crazy when students write like they are writing junior high comments. There, I said it!
FOURTH POINT: I'm attending a conference in Boston in May for International Immersion Education, and I have connected with the University of Essex, I'm meeting some folks there and am really looking hard at my virtual abroad concept.
FIFTH: Because I am going to the conference on May 11th, I need someone to "watch" my class on the 12th from 1:00-3:15. I can set up a film for that day and so all one needs to do is take attendance, click for the film, and (of course, man the computer so it doesn't GO OFF EVERY FIVE SECONDS).
SIXTH: We WILL be doing some vloggging this semester....not sure when.
* Still don't have blogs! (at this point only two or three remain across all my classes. This is usually due to students who miss the 'set up' class and then just skip blogs feeling immune from penalty because they missed the 'set up' day. Worst offender: the unable-to-it-helrself girl who was placed two weeks late into my class; then proceeded to miss 2 more Tuesdays - our lab days - in a row.)
I don't want to spare any more classroom lab time to accomodate these students. There were two different class sessions to set up blogs. Students should be responsible to make up whatever work they've missed - including blog set up. However, I have not been able to get them to meet "outside" of class either. Ideas?
*Aren't blogging consistently or thoroughly. Only 60-70% of students complete any given blog assignment. Some students have only done one (out of 3 or 4). Of those that write each entry, many follow the lead of their peers so that some "clusters" of students (by which I mean the free-formed social groups who view and comment on each other's work) are writing long, thorough and exciting entries while other "clusters" are writing shorter and less intensive ones. More are trending towards terrible than the reverse. It feels like they are "norming" themselves against one another.
I reviewed students' grades and blog performance today and gave a general talk about finding good blog role models to use when deciding how far to go with blogging. However, the worst offenders were absent :)
* Are handing in printed blog entries - Some less tech-savvy, but very grade-conscious students are throwing in the towel and turing in printed word docs to substitute for each entry. Ok for the the first week or so, but I need them to use the blogs they've set up.
These students are particularly frustrationg for me since they were in class every day we did blog set up and I personally helped them several times. Ideas?
"In the 1970s, female East German athletes came from nowhere to dominate international sport. But behind their success lay a horrifying secret. Doping for Gold reveals the truth behind the biggest state-sponsored doping program the world has ever known, creating a timely perspective on today’s many sports drug scandals."
What I found very interesting, and think maybe Dr. Van will in relation to the novel Annabel, is that two of the athletes' bodies, aside from sustaining numerous injuries, which were often ignored or not fully treated, develop such strong masculine characteristics that they have been ostracized by society, taunted as transvestites, transexuals and homosexuals. The women themselves admit to having a difficult time coming to terms with their sexuality and gender identity, and one of them currently lives as a man and is in a realtionship with another ex-athlete who in turn has been and continues to battle eating disorders.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
We are also working on Digication ePortfolios. This is also an online section. Many students have started these ePortfolios in other classes and a number still have one from our former system. While the new system is easier to use, many still have not completed their first assignment here either. I continue to work with the same ePortfolio consultant (for a few years and this third online section) so it is not that he is unfamiliar about how to get this accomplished.
In the meantime, I am trying to adjust to my department transfer and all that comes with it -- upcoming physical move, new courses for the fall/spring (which seem to have fallen to me to develop) yet still having one foot in Co-op with the transitional issues.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
What became troublesome is that when students copied and pasted the link from Google Docs to their blogs, the link was inactive and did not work as a link. Here I must command my students, because I posted comments on their blogs that the links were not working and directions how to fix them, and 5 of the 6 who had this issue responded immediately and got the link to work :)
Also, I though that once students peer reviewed each other's papers they could simply post the new link to the copy of the first draft they created to complete the peer review, but the links posted in the comment boxes were once again not active links. Did I make this part up? I'm fairly certain that I've done this last term- pasted links to copies of papers with my comments into the comment boxes. Well once again, I e-mailed and posted on the class blog about how to get around this issue...it has been a long weekend and I've only managed to peer review half of the papers myself. The fact that blogger was being stubborn and refused to cooperate-none of the blog pages would open- did not help.
But overall, I'm impressed with the quality of observation and analysis in students' first drafts, as they seem to have really engaged with the assignment- analyzing the male in the photo in regards to his masculinity.
Also, one of my student's blog posts is quite angry (this is a post responding to Theroux's "The Male Myth") and he write that the write was probably "raped by a man as a child" and that's why he hates being a man. Is there a sensitive way of conveying to the student that this might be a bit over the top, or as it is his blog, he can interpret the reading as he understands it? By the way, he also pronounces Theroux to be an immature, feminine and dramatic writer.
Is there a spell checker function in Google Docs?
I know there's been some discussion of holding "virtual" office hours. I'm starting to think this might be a good idea. Perhaps I'll tell my ENG102 students that during my office hours (or at least a particular portion) I'll be available to chat via Facebook with them. I wonder how I would have responded as a college freshman to having such ready access to my professor.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
More generally, I seem to notice a lot of publicity about ePortfolio at school lately. For writing classes, blogs are better--since they are about writing. It's interesting that the wider phenomenon of a move toward a 'platform' (rather than a smaller-is-better approach of early Web 1.0 and early Web 2.0) finds an analogy in education in the move toward platforms like ePortfolio, Blackboard and Facebook. I hope we don't wind up with a 'curated' Internet dominated by a few large social networking sites and 'gateway' media and tech companies (Google, obviously, Apple and Facebook), plus the keepers of those Internet pipelines (net neutrality, anyone).... We are covering 'techno-romanticism' in my LIB 200 class, and of course every generation dreams of a perfect, utopian technology.... Let's all think critically about tech and its visions -- so I tell my students -- we will be looking at computer ads through the ages, including the iPad. That's a good maxim for educators to remember, too.... (Discuss.)
Thursday, March 24, 2011
|From Venture Beat|
last night, as I met with Jose, my tutor in the Writing Center, Matthew Byrd introduced me to a Ning-like site he is using for his ENG 102: GROU.PS
What could I do but spend the next 30 minutes creating a course and fooling around with it? (Click HERE to view.)
After 30 minutes, here is what I can tell you about the free version: 1) creating and customizing the site is a breeze. 2) It's got way more features than the Ning Mini, including a wiki, space for groups, and live chat. For more on what you get for free and by paying, click HERE.
The one thing I cannot tell is response times, as right now I am the only one in the place. Therefore, I invite you all to join my grou.ps site and see what happens. Also, I humbly suggest that GROU.PS is the next tool we check out, especially given its similarity with Ning.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
|From Bovee and Thill's Real-Time Updates|
I am here to report that it worked WONDERFULLY!!!! At least 13 students participated in the conversation - several of whom decided to help each other out afterwards. Though the conversation was somewhat superficial - its early in the semester after all - I also felt like "lurkers" and quiet members were able to benefit from overheard advice and assignment clarifications.
In my pre-virtual, brick-and-mortar office hour, I occasionally saw one or two students for lengthy discussions....or brief ones. Many times, I saw no one. This method increases the amount of contact I have with students, and that's got to be a good thing :)
Monday, March 21, 2011
The Portfolio course is running once again and the for the most part students are taking the class to have the one credit they need to be full time....not very motivating. Once again, I needed to ask the STMs to leave E-273 although it was arranged that they would be reassigned to other areas. I guess they thought I would not show up. Two students showed for the first time, one was late and then wanted to leave early. I told him that this was his choice but then he would need to drop the course since he would exceed the allowable 15% for a 1 credit course. He stayed but let's see how things work since he has no interest in developing a portfolio 8-(
Students in my FPA class have an audio assignment due tomorrow on Voice Board. A few students have already posted so that is exciting. So far, no complaints, hesitation, etc. We'll see what happens on Tuesday.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
I decided to go with a smart classroom this semester because my intention was to use class time for group work and Facebook for out-of-class communications. Unfortunately, students have not embraced it as I thought they would. Furthermore, only a third of the students have joined FB despite my e-mails and in-class reminders. I posted a relatively simple question on FB on Wednesday and only one student has responded so far! Maybe students perceive FB as unnecessary because they are able to accomplish most of their group work in class? By the way, if I post a question on FB, do students see the post on their wall, or do they have to switch between their “main” profile and the FB group to see my posts?
The in-class writing session worked well. Students were on-task and many posts far exceeded the 600-word minimum requirement. Several of the students produced very creative, thoughtful responses. No one was lost. No one was confused at having to post via our Facebook group. In fact, many students were pleasantly surprised to learn that what they were writing in the lab could be revised later. The creative aspect of the assignment was by far the most challenging for them. As they told me on Thursday, they're not used to being creative.
A few of the students read and responded ("liked") to one another's work. I find it interesting that I'm able to witness this interaction. Also new and interesting is my capacity to respond publicly to student work. I asked the class if they wanted me to comment on their posts--meaning, the Facebook "comment" feature, which is visible to all. They did. This was a new experience--especially since students responded to my comments. I find this high level of visibility slightly uncomfortable. It's new to me. I can also see how this level of interaction via Facebook creates a new set of responsibilities for both students and faculty.
Regarding visibility, balance in this course exists in the fact that only Short Writing Assignments (SWAs) will be posted via Facebook. Longer essay assignments will be a more "private" affair. I'm just not ready to have every assignment open and public. In short, the course design works for me.
|From cnet News|
since last semester, I have been thinking about how to make data collection simpler pour moi. (With blogs, the data for each student is relatively easy to collect, but not the aggregate response to one specific assignment. For data gathering, Ning is probably best).
I decided that Google Docs could be a simple way to aggregate responses, so this past week my Basic Writing students practiced their summarizing skills by creating one-paragraph group summaries of the CUNY Assessment Test in Writing (CAT-W for short) reading "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"--which, by the way, totally connects with Luke's earlier post of students/people having trouble just reading and understanding blocks of uninterrupted text. If you plan to make a lesson out of it, Luke, here is another take on the issue that may interest you.
I really, really liked the results of this experiment. First, unlike in the traditional classroom, where group responses tend to be ephemeral because they are shared orally or written on the whiteboard only to be erased, these group responses have become part of the class record and so can be revisited and revised. Students, then, have time to think about other groups' responses, as opposed to the quick judgments they usually make when group work and feedback is done in one class meeting. Second, having all responses together in one shared document helps discussion because the class can easily compare answers by moving up and down the document.
Also, connecting two or more classes via Google Docs is really easy and does not require extra logging in, passwords, etc. if the document is set to be edited by anyone who has the link and the link is posted to the blog, wiki, Ning, FB page, etc., or e-mailed (obviously, the more open the blog, wiki, Ning, and FB page is, the easier for others to work on the document). See HERE, for instance, Justin Rogers-Cooper's Seminar in Teaching Writing comments to my students' summaries.
I am sure there are many points about using Google Docs for group work, peer evaluation, and mentoring that I am missing. (I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject). There is one that kept coming back while I was writing this blog entry: I do not give a grade for class participation, but I could see how such group documents could help a teacher figure out how much students are actually participating in class, thus making "participation" less of an impression and more of a fact.
Coming Up: Stealing Luke's ENG 101 prompt to use in my Basic Writing class; peer evaluation of a CAT-W response across classes; more group work using Google Docs.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
I'm impressed that a number of students in my LIB 200 capstone have already been blogging for other classes. I have a really good group of students. I almost could run an old-fashioned class without all the group work that I always do. (I won't be doing this, but our discussions have moved really well so far.) Another interesting accident was a student who named her blog 'profdraganseng101.blogspot.com'--a no-no, obviously. That's the last thing I need is a student writing in my name!!
Overall, I really see the advantages of blogs for writing classes. (I don't understand how I could substitute Facebook or ePortfolio.) It seems to me that Web 2.0 is tending toward monopoly--originally, if you had been following its developments, you were supposed to be able to connect information between websites (called mashups) through available 'APIs' or widgets for the web-savvy. (There were even conferences and events where web developers competed to create interesting application on the fly mixing together the services from different websites.) Now it seems the idea of individual websites and separate web tools (this was called 'software as a service') is under pressure. Instead we have the monolithic 'platform' (think Google and Facebook) and the 'app' (through an iPad or an Android device), and 'curated' notion of content. I think in business and so forth, students should know they wouldn't be 'working' in Facebook. They would be more likely to be collaborating on professional documents on Google Docs or Microsoft Office Live in the cloud. Back when I was a technology journalist, we called this the SOHO (Small Office Home Office) space. Today, even Fortune 500 companies are using Google Docs. So obviously, you do not need to create documents using desktop software, but I would argue that while posting thoughts on a wall, etc. or tweeting is an excellent way to communicate, it's not creating those valuable (yes, high-stakes) documents that are still used in academic and business settings. I think this is all 'mashed up' when we talk of Web 2.0. There are a range of Web 2.0 technologies and styles of writing. We do a disservice to students if we don't occasionally point out the difference.
Last, on a more positive note, I am presenting on using blogs in a creative writing class at a roundtable on creative writing pedagogy this Wed. in Rosemarie's Room in E-103 at 2:30 pm (if anyone wants to drop by). This event is sponsored by the English Department's Creative Writing Committee. To prepare for this talk, I clicked through some strong responses from my ENG 274 Creative Non-Fiction Workshop class from last Fall. What a good group of writers! My short presentation (10 min.) is on using blogs to get students to read and respond to course readings. (In creative writing classes, there aren't formal papers, midterms or finals.) Instead, it's the students' own work. The blogs really worked to get students to write on course readings. It introduced some accountability and let them choose the readings they were interested in. I also received some excellent feedback for our blogs, readings and the entire workshop.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Then I decided to do the same in ENG99. Mind you, ENG 99 is not simply the basic writing class. It is also the class with a majority of non-traditional students, where two of them have actually never used the internet and also our lab is C-237, a lab designed to command NASA missions so that all the workstations will be able to spread out and look at the launch on the big screen, but certainly not designed for having class. There is so far, I believe, only one student--a young one- in that class who has put up a picture, and even she only has a single line for all of her profile. I am curious to see what will happen this coming week, when my classes will interact with each other online, and they will get to see each others' blogs and profiles (cluster students asked me if they can post non-class related items which I told them they could)--will the ENG99 students get an idea of how else this can work, and how it can be more fun if they get into it, or will they overlook the differences? Stay tuned.
I do have one question, a tech questions about Google Docs. One of my students is behind on her work as she missed previous Friday's class when we set up the blogs. So today, i was helping her set the blog up, and then I wanted her to access Google Docs so she could begin taking notes/making observations about a photograph. But when she clicked on My Account, in the list of My Products there was no Docs??? Any suggestions.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Last Wed. whoever had the class before me in C 717 did not log out from the computer so I just used it, without logging in with the English Dept. username and password. But today, when I tried to enter LAB\english as the username, and enlivened as password, the computer was not responding. The C-building technology staff member told me the internet connection was down, and also told me that the username has changed? Lastly, he mentioned that each dept. should have given every faculty member a user name?
Does anyone know anything about this?
Monday, March 14, 2011
Things seem to be going smoothly in 102, discussion forum entries are showing up in the right place, and 27 students have created accounts, so it looks like everything is going fine. We'll see. But 101, however smooth it seemed to be last week, somewhere around noon today apparently got way more confusing, like Aranofsky / Lynch confusing. Their assignment was this: Complete WLE #1 (Writing Log Entry #1 -- this is, as is explained verbally and in the assignment online, a prewriting / brainstorming step to help them decide what to write their first paper on. I figure they can do a bang up job in 30 minutes of reflection and 15 of writing.) WLEs have a separate folder in Assignments (as do postwrites, peer reviews, and take home essays -- and that's all there is, four folders, four types of assignments). I think, no problem, I've done this all before. Until I see that 6 students have submitted as postwrite #1, 4 as Peer review #1, three as Essay #1, and one as WLE #10. Essentially, they have submitted WLE #1 as anything with a 1 in it!
"What the F happened?" I ask them in class today.
"We were confused."
"What is the name of the assignment?" I ask.
"WLE #1," they respond, as if coached.
"What assignment folder would you expect to find it in then?"
"So why are you submitting as Essay #1, postwrite #1, Peer review #1, etc?"
"iuuuuuooow" (which is en-mass--confused freshman for "I don't know.")
So, iuuuuuuuooow either. The class is young, but something about blackboard (or reading instructions) has got them confused, I suppose. It may be time to give up the behemoth of all course management systems and turn it back over to wetpaint or start something new altogether. I've noticed a trend wherein sites that appear commercial seem to also be more intuitive to our students. Am getting a bit exhausted myself though experimenting with new platforms and tools. I may just be too old to start using Facebook and all that google mumbo-jumbo now in the mid-summer of my life (that's a thing, right?) Blah.
As a side note, my other class - a 101/103 cluster that I don't have linked here but that also uses 2.0 - has made the most seamless transition into the blogosphere I've ever seen....no glitches, no real tech issues, no emotional resistances. This may be because they are without exception de facto card carrying members of the Net Generation (the oldest is 22). Who knows.
That said, after the first week of the seminar this semester, I began thinking about some of the comments you guys have been making about student concerns about using technology in the classroom and specifically Web 2.0 tools like Blogger and Facebook. I must admit that I seem to have fewer initial negative reactions to the use of Web tools in the class (only 2 this semester, and both more mature students who barely used email prior). But I thought I’d set aside my experience for the moment and just list the possible reasons that I can think of for negative student reactions. We can also check the surveys for some of these and/or alter the survey to check these. I like Jeremy’s “stress meter” though I think the first week might be a bit early for that, especially for me as I am always stressed the first week as I am trying to learn names and etc. I am not going to argue with any of these right now, nor list what I have or have not done to address any of these, they are not in any particular order, and some will probably overlap. Here is my list with a few examples:
- Familiar: Students prefer the traditional classroom at first because it is familiar. Example: “I thought we would be using pen and paper.”
- Techno-edge: Older students may feel that the computer automatically gives the younger students an edge in the class which puts them at “the bottom” from the first day. Example: “I don’t know how to do all this stuff like these kids.”
- Work Avoidance: Students prefer the traditional classroom at first because that means the teacher has to do most of the work and they can let the “smart” students keep her/him entertained. Example: “Do we have to post every day?”
- Personal Privacy: Students may fear lack of personal privacy where people can use their info to scam them, cheat them, stalk them and so on. Example: “Do I have to use my real name?”
- Academic Privacy: Students may fear academic privacy. Students fear the computer and online environments because others will see their work: ergo see if they are not “good”, are trying to slide by, or are plagiarizing or etc. On this note my incidents of plagiarism have plummeted to nil since I’ve required all work to be posted publicly to the blog. Copyright infringement is a whole other issue, however. Example: “I don’t want everyone seeing my work, I only want you to see it.”
- Persona: Students may be concerned about using social networking tools in the classroom because they don’t want parents/teachers/cops knowing they have an online persona that may not be exactly what they want you to see. This is rather like the online equivalent of running into your teacher at a bar or club. Example: “Do I have to use my FB acount that I have now?”
- Tech Savvy: Students may feel that they are already “over” whatever tool we are using (FB is SO 2010!). Example: “Can I use my MySpace page instead?”
- Transference: The teacher is actually the nervous one which makes the students nervous in turn. Example: “Are you guys nervous about this?”
- Tech-Exhaustion: After registering for classes online and checking their grades online and dealing with CUNY Portal and so on, they are sick of LAGCC trying to do stuff online. Example: “Is this like Blackboard?”
Can anyone think of others?
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Then on Wednesday evening I had my hybrid class in E-273 and had to ask the STMs/IDAs to leave since I was teaching -- they proceeded to tell me that they were scheduled to work there until 6:30 and I reminded them that I teach at 5:45 so they would need to leave. Strange interaction since they seem to feel that this is "their" lab and why should someone else be using it. They finally left but I know they were not happy.
So, you have gathered that I will be using the lab and of course computers since my other class is totally online. Courses are on Blackboard and Digication and we will use a number of Web 2.0 tools plus some add-ons in Blackboard. One of next week's assignments uses Voice Board for a discussion of career dreams in the online class. I'll keep you posted on that one. We started exploring Digication to begin ePortfolios next week. Most students in the class are allied health majors with programmatic templates -- a bit too structured to allow real creativity. Perhaps the digital stories we do mid-semester will help.
I posted the survey in Blackboard and enabled tracking which I usually don't do. Statistics indicate that all but one student in the online class has at least clicked on the link so hopefully they completed it. The hybrid class had it for "homework" and if they didn't complete it, we will do it in the lab Wednesday evening.
That's about it for this week. Next week I have to start packing since I will be moving to the B building.
As Professor Trapani had forecasted, there were a few students who were vehemently opposed to the facebook. Some of them had seen The Social Network and thought Zuckerberg was an asshole. Some just didn't want to use it. In the end, however, the EVIL EMPIRE got 'em all. Ha, ha, ha...
Our second meeting was in a "traditional" classroom. This set them (and me) at ease. I surveyed the class again and discovered that as computer literate or social media-friendly as they may be, they still prefer the ole standard issue classroom. This meeting proved to be very successful--more successful than the first, methinks. I took time not only to introduce them to the sorts of literary analysis we'll be doing in the class, but also the assignments we'll be working on in the lab. In their course packet, students can see every assignment for the semester--all short writing assignments and longer essays. We looked at these together. Because every assignment is already available, many of the students expressed interest in getting an early start on the writing. Sounds good to me.
After discussing how we'll approach the in-class writing and what's going to be expected in the lab on Tuesdays, anxiety levels dropped. Many students even admitted that they think it's going to be a fun semester. They all seem very interested in New York City history and literature. All Hail King Zuckerberg!
|For all us who survived this week...|
...even though half of my Basic Writing students missed the first three-hours of class on Monday because they were in the wrong room, and, therefore, did not get a blog, customize it, type their first blog entry, and join my blogroll, by the end of the second meeting on Wednesday everyone was blogged and networked and surveyed and I needed a stiff drink (did I mention this class ends at 10 pm?!). Oh, and we also managed to have quite the intensive class on Annotating (see HERE, if interested).
What did NOT work half as smoothly, hahaha, was that scuggan of a web attendance platform we have; not only did it completely dump my attendance for the second meeting, but the online list has two students less than the report, so I had to print the report and complete the attendance by hand, thereby defeating the purpose of web attendance. Sidebar: I am so looking forward when we move from eSIMS to CUNYFirst (not! in case you did not catch the sarcasm. I say, be prepared for the moaning, the wailing, and the gnashing of teeth.)
Also, I meddled (muddled?) with Dr. Pacht's Facebook group. I say this because I am not sure that students have figured out I am a teacher yet.... I have to say, so far FB looks like a winner. I look forward to more reports from the field.
What's coming up: sharing Google Docs gradebook pages with everyone, a class on Summarizing, Plato's "Allegory of the Cave," and perhaps cross evaluation of blogs using Google Docs' Forms.
Lastly, I have been thinking that, as a group, we may want to collaborate on a short piece that describes some of the issues with web privacy and offers some suggestions to the students. Something that we can post permanently on our blogs or add to the syllabus. I have started a Googel Docs page for this purpose HERE. Please add or edit by using a different font color and signing your initials.
One word: By Jove, I think I've "got it." I think it can achieve all that I want: An online blogging task that leads to a printable pulp.
Scrivener: a graphic novel creating software that students can use to write a synopsis, add images, and explain the literature of the supernatural and Gothic novel. I have to figure out a way to 1. purchase it ($45.00..may use my equipment fee) and see if it can be accessed from our computer lab 2. research topics can be made into graphic novel format (a la Penny Dreadful).
We did manage to get computer lab time, so we should be writing as of Tuesday.
I hope this won't be another burning compville.
Any ideas? Comments? Thoughts? Suggestions?
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
All went very well. But I have two questions:
-Some of the URLs of students' blogs do not seem to be working? Instead, when I click on them, I get the following message:
Thursday, March 10, 2011
However, I am now back and trying desperately to decide what tool to use. So far, I have tried Spruz, Ning, Tumblr, ePortfolio, Blogger, and wikiwetpaint. I haven't found my blogging niche yet...feeling very much like the junior high school girl who doesn't have a new dress for the party. In addition, once again I was not assigned a computer labfor my class although a request was input months ago. An urgent request was submitted today.Hopefully, by next week, we will be able to connect. That is the good news...the bad news is that I don't know what tool to use.
WhatI want to do doesn't seem to be perfectly in sync with operative functioning...or it costs money making it impossible. I want to connect internationally and, as I have mentioned to some of you, am working toward some sort of collaboration. I already have some connections with the University of Essex and France. To that end, I would like to use more remote/video/second life-ish stuff. I can shoot, edit and upload the video a la youtube or set for streaming. BUT, what I also want to create for the supernatural cluster is a recreation of the original Penny Dreadfuls pulp comics with the students summary and comments creating a semi-graphic novel format, online journal and printable form. We started already with fairy tales, animals and the supernatural. I'd LOVE to connect with a class of artist(e)s who can work with my students. We will also be covering spiritualism. While I don't expect ectoplasm to sprout from the site, I would like to keep it active, vibrant and exciting while encouraging students to carefully write, edit and revise until it is ready for print...like the rest of us.
What tool should I use? Help?
Picture a group of students of the suppossedly techno-immersed younger generation entering the ENG 099 lab. Tis' the second class day so we get straight to setting up blogs. The previous day we went over the syllabus and they wrote a diagnostic CATW-type exam. They open up the directions for how to set up blogs, start following them, and half an hour later they are as comfortable following the directions as if I had written them in my native Greek. After helping the seventh student with the exact same problem (namely, second-grade reading ability) I ask all of them to take a pause and explain what about the directions they find so challenging to follow. One of them knows the ropes enough to throw in the trump card: we are not very good with technology. Yet I have read their diagnostics, so I know that the plain paper directions on Tuesday were as hard for many to follow as the blogosphere rosetta stone they think they are reading. And it's not because they are ENG 099 students--my cluster students had some difficulty with the written directions as well, and if I simply went over and repeated them individually to them, they found them more easily comprehensible. I doubt that it was the Greek accent that made them grasp it better. I finally realized that it was the fact that I was pointing to things on the screen--they wanted me to have included screen captures, and it was the text by itself that they found impossible to approach.
I remember reading something about strategies for making classrooms more trans-friendly, and one of the suggestions was asking a question about gendered pronoun preference on those contact sheets that get handed out to students. SO I changed the gender question to:
At first I wondered if this would confuse some students, but this is the second semester I’ve tried it and so far, not one person has asked me about it. A very few have answered this creatively (“Supercat!”), which (as the Diaspora developer noted) can be an amusing element.
Anyway, when mentioning this to people, I’ve been surprised that some of them seem kind of dismissive (rather like the Diaspora developer who dropped out of the project). These things make me wonder sometimes if I try to extend issues of personal importance too much into other areas of my life. But I had a student recently who seems to appreciate all this, so I feel validated. Another issue that might not be immediately obvious is that LaGuardia LIVE email addresses can preserve old gendered names, and allowing students to use personal email addresses (with different names) is justified in public or semi-public, online venues.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
To help the group, I've updated a handout that walks students through this process with a step-by-step guide with screenshots. Feel free to adapt and use this in your classes, too. It's similar to the version of last Fall, but naturally Google has changed some of the steps here. It still requires access to a cell phone to verify a user's identity. You can remind students that they can verify using anyone's cell phone if they don't happen to have theirs with them.
Anyway, good luck with this--I am hoping to get all my students signed up and their blog rolls generated for each class after next week.
P.S. -- My simple PHP script to generate blog rolls from a list of URLs (web addresses) from last Fall is still posted here. It 'scrapes' the name of each blog off a list of students' websites, and it warns if any addresses are incorrect. I think this saves time, esp. since it automates the creation of links within an HTML table, which can be further tweaked if you want. Of course, it doesn't matter where the student blog resides: just provide the web address and you can mix-and-match content from Blogger, Typepad, Wordpress or wherever.... What I have been doing is printing this list out into an Excel spreadsheet, and then distributing it in class and reminding students whose links are broken (or missing) to fill them in. In a week or two, you should have a complete set of blog rolls. This set of links can be cut and pasted wherever you want--currently for us it will be on Blackboard and our course wikis. An accurate blog roll is a must for grading student writing on blog. It allows you to 'click through' to student work to find it--and it solves the problem of students who claim they did the writing, but they didn't get you their addresses. It introduces accountability into the process. ("I see you don't have a blog yet. You should get one as soon as you can. Our blog writing is worth 10% of your course grade," etc.)
Monday, March 7, 2011
Great first meeting, everyone!
From reading your responses, this promises to be a very exciting semester. Can't wait to see how Facebook turns out...
We hear you about learning about new platforms. So far, we have worked with
- Google Docs (specifically the Spreadsheet) for posting the Fall course descriptions. See HERE
- Google Sites (a wiki) for posting our Spring syllabi, as per Rich's suggestion. See HERE
- Google Groups (a discussion group) for the Fall mid-semester JAM. See HERE
And we LOVED Magda's idea to have her students videotape themselves reading their papers! I don't know if you like peer review forms, Magda, but if you have them link their video to a survey in Google Forms or Survey Monkey, students could also give quick feedback on specific areas...