Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Dreadful Penny Dreadful and The Worm That Ruined My Computer (Life)

FIRST: I knew that would get your attention! In my zeal to find the "perfect" software to create our PennyDreadful graphic novel, I downloaded multiple software. You name it! I was eager to try it: Blurb, Toonville, etc. Somehow, I downloaded a zillion viruses. Relax! Don't log off! I'm on my daughter's computer. I need a new computer and I need to cautious/protected when I get my new laptop.
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).
Any takers?

SIXTH: We WILL be doing some vloggging this semester....not sure when.

The Lost Bloggers

From biggest issue to the mildest, I need to troubleshoot the following situations:

Students who.....

* 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?

Great episode of PBS' Secrets of the Dead on female athletes and steroid use

The episode's title is "Doping for Gold" and here is its summary:
"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

Blog Assignment #2:

I think blogs are great

Audio Files Not Happening

I think too many of my online students registered for the online section thinking they wouldn't have to speak. Wrong! There is major resistance to posting the audio files - so far there have been two assigned. I have provided information about where they can complete these on campus. The first page of the syllabus did indicate that they needed access to either a microphone or webcam for this course so audio assignments should not have been a surprise. I posted an announcement on Blackboard and also sent it as an email to remind them of the missing assignments and that these are not optional unless they were willing to accept a zero. To date, only two students have come to my office about questions in general or to introduce themselves.

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

Trouble with finding the FB group

The group projects are coming along and I’m pleased with my decision to go with a “traditional” classroom this semester. Last semester, the computer lab work relatively well (at least in hindsight) because students were expected to work on their personal blogs and document their first semester experiences. The Second Semester Seminar, on the other hand, involves weekly group projects and thus, traditional classroom appears to be a better suited option. It is a minor nuisance though that students do not have any access to computers during class; it complicates forming connections within and between classes (again, homework is tough when you’re teaching a zero credit counseling class). Furthermore, majority of the students have had difficulties finding the group on Facebook. CD Service Learning Project is an open group that should “pop-up” when searched, but as per my inquiries last week, most students have not been able to find it on Facebook! I even tried sending them invitations, but it appears to be that I can only invite people who are my “friends.” Next week, I thought about having students use the computer terminal in the classroom. Hopefully, I will be able to troubleshoot some of the problems that they are having with finding the page.

Trouble with Google Docs but first draft of first paper look great

This Friday, I gave my students the entire class to compose as much of the first draft of their photo analysis paper. Last Friday, every student wrote a description of a photograph of a man (either his own photo, a relative, friend, significant other), and before this Friday's class, I asked students to create graphic organizers or outlines or lists based on the description/notes they took on the photograph. For the most part, students came in prepared for both Fridays' classes, but as usual some didn't bring in a photo last Friday and other came in this Friday confused as to what is going on in class. But as 22 of the 25 students posted their first drafts, some a day late and others who missed classes and did not know how to access Google docs (i included directions in the assignment but then who wants to read a paragraph long directions, right?) simply posted their papers on their blogs, rather than posting a link to a Google Docs document, I think that's a pretty good turn out.

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 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?

Week 3

The most interesting development this week has been my own experience interacting with students via Facebook. A couple of students emailed me expressing concerns about the difficulty of the reading assignment. The reading assignments in my ENG102 aren't particularly long, but several are appropriately challenging--especially during the first four weeks. After receiving the emails, I immediately went to Facebook and posted a query asking if anyone is having trouble with the readings. Students quickly responded. I used this opportunity to hold a sort of impromptu discussion board. I was able to post some "hints," guiding the students through some of the difficult texts by alerting them to concerns and themes they might have missed. Upon our next class meeting the students told me it was a great help and that they felt more prepared for the day's lesson.

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

A tale of two labs

Last week the liberal arts cluster students and the students in my ENG 99 class had their first networked interaction with each other on blogger; while I have interacted with other classes before I never had students of my own do so across sections, so it was a new experience which required some planning. Both sections are currently working on Plato’s allegory of the cave excerpt (or, as a ENG 99 student called it, allegory of the cave men, which is not altogether as unreasonable a title as it first sounds) , albeit in different contexts. ENG 99 students had to summarize it since that is a bread and butter skill for the CATW. This, by the way, was not their first summary. In order to have ENG 101/103 students appreciate the difficulty of summarizing, I also had them write a summary on the spot before the activity and we then discussed the products they created; many expressed concern over how they know what to include and why, which was very good and which surprisingly has not come up much in my ENG 99 class. I then paired them with ENG 99 students so they would give them feedback. As has happened before with such an activity, students generally gave a lot of well thought-out feedback and some useful suggestions; at the end of the activity a lot commented, on their own, that giving feedback helped them go back to their own summaries and see what was wrong with them—they had gotten a whole lesson on the value of peer review for self-critique without me saying anything. But it was a more difficult situation in ENG 99.

Because I had ENG 99 students read and comment on ENG 101 students’ blogs also, and they commented on blogs that were not summaries, they more or less accepted them as better writers and students—yet problems started showing up when an ENG 99 student would have two differing sets of feedback. The directions I gave in ENG 99 was for them to “use the feedback they find useful” in revising their summary, but they did not know how to make such a choice. First some thought of using me as a shortcut and asking me which one I thought was better (really lazy attempt for them to use me), then some asked me which student was a better student of the two (arguably a notch up in terms of avoiding thinking). I did not help matters when I shared a story of a student last fall II who was not good enough as a writer to produce an A or even strong B paper but always gave spot-on peer review comments. Another complication was that a couple of ENG 101 students were missing, so some ENG 99 students did not have two reviewers. I can’t say that the class overall had a breakthrough as big as the ENG 101 had, but it did allow me to experience how easy it is to promote critical thinking and use of judgment even in such a simple interaction such as peer review. In a face to face class students at this point would know some things about each person’s behavior and the “good” and “bad” students would have taken shape, in their minds at least, but here they only had text to deal with, a benefit of doing this in a networked environment. For the record, a few students started looking at personalization and even the other blog entries their reviewers wrote as means of finding out more about their reviewers’ ethos, which can be a lesson in and of itself.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Following Blogs

I have most of my students signed up for blogs across three courses. We have three blog rolls created--on our wikis (and under Blackboard), one blog roll for each class. Here is a guide to getting them to 'follow' those students who are on a blog roll. (It can be customized for other classes for the group.)

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

Good News for Ning-like Lovers

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 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.

Facebook is my friend

Despite a few head-scratching moments (more on that later), FB is still working out well for my class. I'm using it mostly for informal writings (I post a prompt and they respond by commenting on it) but students have been checking and chiming in fairly regularly even when there's no assignment posted.

To address my concern about the lack of discussion opportunities in the computer lab, I came up with two group activities for this past week -- one for Monday and one for Wednesday, when we're in a regular classroom. Both went well and helped students get to know each other better. After working together, each group shared two or three highlights of their work -- both on the board and in discussion. On a whim, I asked each group's reporter to also post a full summary of their work on FB. So far, I'm really happy with the results. We all now have a written record of what transpired during group time, which is great since each group worked on a different aspect of the text. This can also be especially useful for anyone who was absent that day or wants to review what they did but didn't take notes. It also gave me a chance to correct any misconceptions that didn't come up in class. I posted a question to one comment and the student raised the issue in class to clarify.

The head-scratcher is trying to find a way to send a message to just one student without having to "friend" him. I know they can send private messages to me (maybe because I'm the group's administrator?) and I can respond privately but I can't seem to initiate a private message, which is weird. It's not a huge deal, just an inconvenience.

As I sit here reading their first set of essays, I'm feeling as if all this online writing prep has already paid off. I'm only halfway through the stack but these drafts are so far much stronger than their Diagnostics, I think in part because they're elaborating on ideas they've already spent time thinking and writing about. Let's hope the trend continues as I read the rest of their essays...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Coming Soon! C 2.0 Workshops for the Uninitiated

From Bovee and Thill's Real-Time Updates

Help others harness the power of the Web to Enhance Student Engagement and Learning!

Join Dr. Smith and Dr. X in any of these two dates:

4/6 3:00-4:30 E-255
4/7 3:00-4:30 E-255

The Virtual Office Hour

This year, because of scheduling issues, I was really having a difficult time setting appropriate office hours that would work for my students and I.  Following the excellent advice of my 2.0 friends, I decided to initiate a Facebook Group chat as a shared, public office hour instead. 

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

can anyone help with creating a list of labels?

While I added the labels gadget to my blog, it does not appear on the blog's page? Also, how do I add labels to the list of labels?

Week Two

Finally all of my online students signed into the course. One sent me an email telling me that he registered late - he registered 3/10 but sent the email on 3/16. Surprising that they don't realize that we are able to track all this and magically expect that they are released from the first week's deadlines/assignments. Some students are not as familiar with Blackboard so this presents some challenges as it did in the fall. Probably need to create a few more instruction sheets since the Bb manual takes too long to locate what is needed and doesn't always help. We need a Bb for Dummies!

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

Facebook concerns...

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?

Week 2

Last Tuesday was the first "test" of how things would shake out in the computer lab. We began with an assignment for which the students were asked to create a fictional "history" of their street, neighborhood, or intimate NYC location of choice. This was an opportunity for the students to work within the form and style of Washington Irving--which the students read prior to our lab session.

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.

Connecting via Google Docs

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


Last week, we were creating three sets of blogs for three classes. It's a bit of a challenge to keep three different lists of blogs. (I've updated my blog roll utility It now generates an HTML table with the list of blogs.)

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 ''--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


Students work at different speeds when we do things online so I have been telling those who finish a task first to go ahead and personalize their blog--giving them permission to access facebook and get their pictures etc. In the liberal arts cluster, this quickly became a fun activity and a bonding experience, with students asking each other (and me) which pic to post, discussions ensuing about favorite music etc. This happened in E-232 and E-140 by the way, which despite their own faults are decent size rooms.

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.

Most students are on board, for the most part

The second week started off a bit bumpy, as on Wed., that horrible rainy day, there was not internet access in the C building. This slightly foiled my plans, as I wanted to practice reading a photograph with students in class, in order to prepared them for their first paper. Also, this term I assigned 2 or 3 students to each reading and asked those students to post one question about an assigned reading by 5 p.m. on the day prior to our class meeting. Since I've tried to assign readings only for Weds. classes (my class meets on Weds. in a smart classroom and Fri. in a computer lab) as they have almost 5 days between the Friday and Wednesday class to do the reading, the selected students usually post the questions on Tuesdays by 5:00p.m. So once again as there was not internet access this Wed. we were unable to review all the wonderful comments students posted in response to the questions. Although only one of the two students assigned to post a question did, 15 of the 26 posted comments and these were not simply one word or one sentence, these were in fact substantial paragraphs!!! I was so impressed :) and told them so, of course. Granted some students are still trying to get on board and as this is an 8 a.m. class, they seem to be half asleep, I think the class is off to a promising start.

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.

week 2 illuminations

After whining about the chaos of Ningland, this week we are navigating better and enjoying the uncharted waters. I discovered that the front page of Ning has a FB wall-like feature where I can post instant announcements. My 6 students who are presenting next week were pleased about the NING FB feature where they can friend each other and discuss their presentation. Ximena checked the Ning and recommended I move blog discussion to Forum section as it has threading and is thus clearer...what else? Ahh for lit folks who haven't already investigated this part of Purdue Owl--there is a very cool literary theory section that I imported into Ning so that students could use focused questions for approaching texts as feminists, new historicists, formalists or psychoanalysts--we tried out creating examples in class and they are following up with presentations next week. You can find what I imported (with credit of course) under Dr Van's Forums on my Ning. So my lesson for the week is that I need to learn more about platform I am using--and finally--as always--students are better at tech stuff than I am and are always saying -- go there, click that, no, up there, down there, to the right...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Me again...

Now I've learned to save my posts as I go so that I don't hit the wrong button and watch them vanish into thin air! Here we go again (this is the condensed version):

The good: they're really into the FB thing and I'm happy with their responses to the first two informal writings prompts. My concern that late-posters would merely reiterate what early- posters had written has not yet come to pass, which is great. They're communicating with one another (and with me) regularly, which is also great. The one downside to creating all this cyber-community feeling is that we don't really know each other very well (even if it feels like we do) and that becomes apparent when we sit in a room together. I think this will be less of a problem over time, though. It's only week 2, after all.

The not-so-good: computer labs are built for writing on computers, not interacting with fellow students and having discussions. I've therefore dedicated a good chunk of our Mondays to writing in class but a few students have said that they think better at home and would prefer to write there. Now this could be an excuse to get some "help" outside of class but it could also be a legitimate concern. One student is worried that her lack of typing skills will hurt her grade.

Going forward: I'd like to give them access to their grades online (a la Blackboard's Gradebook, but better) but don't know how to do that securely and privately. I'd also like to use FB for peer review exercises but am not sure where to begin.
This whole anxiety

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

changes to the username and password needed to log into computers?

Hello Everyone,
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?

First week

Well it was a busy start. I posted the survey link on the blackboard and urged students to take the student survey. Next, I am taking the steps to invite them to my Facebook group. But I wanted it to be a bit slow for them to catch up in the semester and then to recognize that this is a science course and they will have to connect to each other for help. So I think I will have them on by next week.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A warily woeless beginning

No serious worries or concerns regarding the techno usage managed to rear proverbially ugly heads in the first week. I have one class (eng 102) that is running on both wetpaint and blackboard, though bb is really only for turning in essays and tracking grades. The 101 class is far more BB intensive, and the students far more easily confused (two websites are the internet equivalent of a disco-ball warehouse to a raccoon it seems) to the point where I have pretty much abandoned wetpaint in that class for all but the wiki project. It seems if I can't put all content in one place they get thrown off, but it sure does help me to use BB to keep grade records and the cache of previous documents / drafts. But may be more trouble than it is worth.

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.

A Follow-up on Anxiety: 7% are "worried"

As a follow-up on my post about tech-anxiety, I was just checking the preliminary numbers on the Student pre-survey and I would like to note that out of 240 respondents so far, only 7.1% (17) reported being "worried" about the use of the internet in class, 11.8% "cautious" (28), 48.3% (115) "interested", 16.3% "excited" (38), and  16.8% (40) couldn't care less. If only 7% are "worried"  then that means basically 2 students out of every 28 students have some trepidation about working online and 18 are ready to go.

The Intro Week that Wasn't

Due to a serious bout of food poisoning and a suprize trip to the hospital, I missed the first day of the 101 class I have registered with Comm2.0.  (Ironically, the theme for the couse is food).  Unfortunately, it was also the day students would have been in front of computers.  Needless to say, this has thrown off my schedule seriously.  Tommorrow, students will be building blogs, filling out the pre-survey and doing all the internet set-up and bookkeeping I had intended they do last Tuesday. 

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 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. 

Some Thoughts on Techo-Anxiety

All of my students are blogging away and they (fingers crossed) join my FB group today in their Writing Center Lab (I am attending digitally from home on FB). Despite my directions, several students have already tried to “friend” me on FB. I will speak with them about that again on Tuesday. I am pretty sure that is just habit on their part. Somethign to think about.

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

Week One

Interesting start to the first week. The SIC sent out an email to all students registered for online and hybrid courses on 3/4 telling them that they are registered in an online/hybrid section so that they knew and if they wanted to change it, do so. My online class required department permission so of course they knew. Then proceeded to tell them to check Blackboard for their courses. They did NOT tell the faculty that they were sending out this message. Of course, one of my students actually reads the LaGuardia email and responded that the course wasn't there so what should they do? This resulted in a few emails on Friday night. I told them to ignore it and I would send my own email to the entire class telling them that I was working on the Blackboard site and it would be up and running on Sunday before classes started. One student is still having difficulty with Blackboard - she's in the class but does see it on her screen. Online help hasn't worked so I plan to stop by the B building and see Jetmir myself for help. As one of my former students, he always finds time (and solutions) for me.

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.

Spring Kick Off

My first FSG011 class was mostly consumed by various housekeeping issues however we did get a chance to complete the pre-surveys and go over the syllabus. (I had to resort to the paper version of the survey which I’ll forward to Jason and Ximena early next week). Next week I’ll continue with course expectations and the class will begin planning and designing their group projects. As stated before on Google pages, I will pilot service learning style projects in my FSG011 class. I created a group called CD Service Learning Project on Facebook with the intention of providing a user-friendly platform for class communication. My class will network with another FSG group, taught by my co-worker, via Facebook groups where both my co-worker and I function as the group’s administrators. Both groups will be working on service learning projects.

First Week Facebooking

My ENG102 met on the first day in C 238, a warehouse of a computer lab. This was different. For them and for me. Student reactions were mixed, but tended toward the anxious. I think that meeting in the lab on the first day--and hearing about how this class would make use of the facebook, etc.--was just too much newness for most of them. They were unsure about me, the puters, the networking. Anxiety levels (I always ask this on the first day) averaged a 7, which is pretty high since 10 is total howling-fantod mode.

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!

Nae Problemo

For all us who survived this week... 
Soooo... *said as a long exhalation*,

...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.

scrivener to the rescue

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

PDF of Student Pre-Survey

I just created a PDF of the pre-student survey posted here. (If you try to print the web page, the radio buttons for the survey responses will not show up, which will be confusing to your students.) This document might be useful for anyone in our seminar who is not teaching in a computer lab. Enjoy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Good start to a semester but need help with two tech-questions

Having taught the 6:45 a.m. class for few semesters, I was surprised to see that some of my students, both on the first and second day of class, 8 a.m. on Wed. and Fri., were still a bit sleepy. But then I thought to myself, these are college students, who unlike myself, a woman nearing 30 (ugh), do not go regularly go to bed at 10 or 11 p.m. and get up at 5 a.m. But overall the class seems interested in the readings; the first one Fausto-Sterling's "How to Build a Man?" sparked a nice discussion in class today and I'm excited to read students' first posts. As on Fridays, my class meets in the computer lab, today students completed the pre-survey, then set up their individual blogs, posted comments on the class blog with the URLs of their blogs and composed/began composing their first blog post.
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:
You are viewing a feed that contains frequently updated content. When you subscribe to a feed, it is added to the Common Feed List. Updated information from the feed is automatically downloaded to your computer and can be viewed in Internet Explorer and other programs. Learn more about feeds.

-Also, Prof. Smith and Prof. X mentioned this during the seminar- how do I go about locking students' computers so when I'm demonstrating something on the main computer and projector, they wont be able to work on anything else?

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Sorry for the delay in posting. Some of you may have heard about how I was kidnapped by pirates on a ship to Mexico and...Okay. That's not completely true.
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 the rest of us.
What tool should I use? Help?

Class Shudders At Large Block Of Uninterrupted Text

Title and some thoughts inspired  from,16932/

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.

Social networks and gender binaries

One thing that annoys me about FB is the profile question where it asks for your sex and only gives you two drop-down options. I still have hope for Diaspora, and thought it was really interesting that one of the developers got flack for taking a stand on this (“Why Gender is a Text Field on Diaspora”). Now with Ning, the default profile questions follow FB’s lame pattern and asks whether you are M/F, but it does allow you to change the questions entirely. This is nice because I can ask questions that are more interesting to me, such as major or research interests.

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.

So far, so good

It's the first week and so far I'm happy with the group Facebook page and the way students are interacting with it. We met in a computer lab on Monday so I had everyone join during class and complete the pre-survey. I've posted several documents since -- the course info sheet, some readings, and two videos relating to the readings -- and have been happily surprised at student responses so far. Several students went on the site, watched the videos, and commented on them that afternoon without having been asked to do so and it really helped get the conversation going during our Wednesday class. I have since posted our first informal writing assignment, giving them a deadline of noon on Sunday to contribute. The two responses posted so far are thoughtful and pretty fully fleshed out, which is also a nice surprise. I was afraid that using Facebook might put students in "social networking" mode, as opposed to "school" mode, and lead to less-academic writing (abbreviations, lack of full sentences, etc.). So far, that hasn't happened. Just the fact that students have gone to the site to "like" things, even if they don't comment, is encouraging. It shows me that they're engaged in and thinking about what the class is doing even when they're not in the classroom.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Getting Started with Blogger and Blog Rolls

I am using blogs in all three of my courses this semester. (By choice, I am not teaching in computer labs--I just can't move around the chairs for group work, and I've never been able to get a focused discussion on a text in a computer lab, but that's just me.) That means getting students to sign up for their blogs is a bit of a challenge, right?

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

X& J's Responses to Report Out

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
We have also heard short presentations on Ning and Facebook. If you 'd like, we could play around with these last two platforms and have a report-out during the mid-semester JAM. However, this would mean joining both Facebook and Ning... Let us know your thoughts.

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...


Friday, March 4, 2011

Seminar 3/4/11 Report Out

Please take a few moments to reflect on today's seminar. What new ideas or plans did you come up with? What was the most significant thing you learned today? And, finally, what would you like to hear more about or discuss in more detail in future JAMs or face-to-face meetings? Your response should be posted as a "comment" to this post.

reflection--last semester and going forward

Last semester I was very happy with Ning for blogging and fora (forums for the non latinate)--Ning also has a facebook section so each student has his/her own page. I want to expand this function so students can connect around group projects (on novelists). The blogging function of Ning works really well and I am interested in finding good connections for one time blogging conversations with anyone interested in my novels' themes. Am also willing to use a poem or even short short story (we are reading 6 novels) from an English 102 class so that our students can have a conversation, debate etc.