Academic Commons Table of Contents: December 2005
ESSAYS AND INTERVIEWS
Interactive Reading, Early Modern Texts and Hypertext: A Lesson from the Past by Tatjana Chorney, St. Mary's University (Nova Scotia)
We hear a lot these days about the empowering shifts in readers' abilities to construct meaning and to change the "original" text made possible by new technology. But the phenomenon is at least as old as the early modern period, when it was used to good effect by writers like John Donne. Tatjana Chorney argues that "studying the dynamic of interactive reading is. . .not only a look back on past practice but also a model for studying integrative teaching and learning in a global world."
Technology as Epistemology by Peter Schilling, Amherst College
Peter Schilling acknowledges that "To say 'new technology is changing the way we think' is as obvious as it is ambiguous." But he also probes the point and challenges our thinking: "Not only do our students possess skills and experiences that previous generations do not, but the very neurological structures and pathways they have developed as part of their learning are based on the technologies they use to create, store, and disseminate information." It's not just about skills and experiences but "categories, taxonomies, and other tools they use for thinking" that are "different from those used by their teachers."
Taking Culture Seriously: Educating and Inspiring the Technological Imagination by Anne Balsamo, Annenburg Center for Communication, University of Southern California
"Ignorance costs. Cultural ignorance -- of language, of history, and of geo-political contexts -- costs real money." So Anne Balsamo begins her wide-ranging inquiry into the "technological imagination"--"a character of mind and creative practice of those who use, analyze, design and develop technologies." Excerpted from Chapter 1 of her forthcoming Duke UP book, The Technological Imagination Revisited; Designing Culture: A Work of the Technological Imagination, Balsamo's essay pleads for interdisciplinary collaboration informed by "new skills, new analytical frameworks, new methods, and new practices" built on a liberal-arts framework of "personal commitment to life-long learning."
Faculty as Authors of Online Courses: Support and Mentoring by Gail Matthews-DeNatale, Simmons College, and Deborah Cotler, Monmouth University
Echoing Balsamo and Schilling, Gail Matthews-DeNatale and Deborah Cotler argue that online course authorship requires faculty to develop a new skill set. "Our current challenge is to ensure the development of online learning that engages learners in the open-ended, inquiry-based learning that we believe is at the heart of a liberal arts education. We are finding that excellent professors whose face-to-face teaching is grounded in a liberal arts approach to learning may sometimes encounter difficulties when they take their teaching into the digital realm."
Open Access to Scholarship: An Interview with Ray English by Michael Roy, Wesleyan University
Oberlin's Library Director talks about the importance of the Open Access movement to higher education in general, and liberal arts education in particular, and talks about what we can do to help this important movement succeed.
Notes & Ideas:
Using Blogs to Teach Philosophy by Linda E. Patrik, Union College
"Philosophical creativity involves raising the most thought-provoking questions and defending one's own answers to such questions." Linda Patrik makes a convincing argument that blogging is a great means for encouraging creativity in philosophical debate, "especially when each student has his or her own blog, because it allows for fairly spontaneous expression of ideas and it invites students to journey out of their blogs into the blogworld established by another."
TEACHING & TECHNOLOGY VIGNETTES
Interactive Engagement with Classroom Response Systems by S. Raj Chaudhury, Christopher Newport University
S. Raj Chaudhury shares his experiences using clickers in large introductory science courses. Even though such courses often emphasize "finding the right answer," Chaudhury discusses how he uses the system "principally to generate discussion among students and to engender a sense of shared inquiry, where the assessment data is shared in real-time by the students and the instructor." Such an approach is applicable across many disciplines - wherever lectures can be more interactive.
Incorporating Blogging in a Free Speech Course: Lessons Learned by David Reichard, California State University Monterey Bay
David Reichard, like S. Raj Chaudhury, a CASTL (Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) Scholar, has carefully studied the effects of incorporating blogging in his "Free Speech and Responsibility" course. Not only did students blog, but they wrote essays analyzing their own and other students' blogs: "These essays provided invaluable 'meta' analysis of student learning in the course. Significantly, students described blogs as providing a public record of their own learning, making their process as learners visible to themselves and others."
Learning Outcomes Related to the Use of Personal Response Systems in Large Science Courses by Jolee West, Wesleyan University
Jolee West presents a round-up of the findings of the current studies and articles written on clickers and personal response systems.
TK3: A Tool to (Re)Compose by Virginia Kuhn, University of Southern California
Virginia Kuhn admits that she's slightly biased, but she provides a glowing review of what she calls "a program that allows writers to both theorize and enact the types of literacies necessary for life in the 21st-century, wired world." We include a TK3 version of the review, and a link to download a free TK3 reader so that AC readers can see for themselves!
Writely by Bryan Alexander, NITLE
Bryan Alexander discusses the pros and cons of this beta wiki product and ultimately rates it "worth the experiment."
THE DEVELOPER'S KIT
- The Developer's Kit features brief reviews of interesting new technologies.
- Mediawiki 1.5 is released
- Easy Subscribing to RSS Feeds
Screen recording software
- Access to Instant Messaging for all
- Nvu turns 1.0
- Make your Firefox default browser page do something useful
- An alternative to Painter
- Writely: the return of client server?
- Alternative free cross-platform ssh client
- Promising new Mac RSS reader
- An alternative weblog client for Windows
SHOWCASES - Exemplary Academic Web Projects
The UO Channel at the University of Oregon is a gateway to video programs that reflect the quality, creativity, and diversity of academic and cultural life at the university. Featured programs include lectures, interviews, performances, symposia, documentary productions, and more. In addition to video/streaming media on demand, the UO Channel also provides access to campus radio stations.
Harvard @ Home
Harvard@Home offers dozens of rich multimedia programs, each of which allows in-depth exploration of a particular intellectual or artistic arena. Programs are freely viewable by the public and are designed to be of general interest to those with curiosity about a variety of fields. Based on faculty and expert lectures and symposia, the programs feature highly edited streamed video segments, supplemented by additional program materials, including textual description, glossaries, timelines, maps, and QTVR.
The Digital Classicist
The Digital Classicist is a web-based hub for scholars and students interested in using Humanities Computing to undertake research into the ancient world. The main purpose of the site is to offer guidelines and suggestions of major technical issues. The site also features news about events, publications (print and electronic), and other developments in the field.
The Physical Universe
Created to accompany the eponymous textbook (The Physical Universe, by Konrad B. Krauskopf and Arthur Beiser; McGraw-Hill), this extensive site includes animations and figures for each chapter, along with study questions and exercises. The site stands on its own with introductory text for each topic that sets the stage for exploration within subject areas such as the scientific method, matter and energy, the atom, the Periodic Law, and the solar system, among others.
ArtXplore is a multimedia program running on a hand-held PDA. The interface highlights information on 16 objects in 12 galleries at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and provides the information wirelessly to the museum visitor. Additionally, museum patrons are able to review their experience and provide comments to the curator directly from the PDA.
Digital Gaming Teaching and Research at Michigan State
In Fall 2005, the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media at Michigan State University launched the Game Design and Development Specialization. The specialization brings together undergraduate students majoring in digital media arts and technology within the department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media, Computer Science, and Studio Art. Combining these perspectives and talent, students explore the history, social impacts, technology, design fundamentals, and the art of team-based digital game production.
Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity Online Edition 2004
The publication consists of: A full catalogue of the inscriptions, illustrated far more richly than would be possible in a conventional volume, and indexed by significant terms, lexical words, locations, dates, and bibliographical concordance; Commentary and historical narrative, epigraphic introductions and prosopographical appendices, fully cross-referenced and hyper-linked across the site; Reference materials including bibliography, links, clickable plans of the site, and repoductions of epigraphic notebooks; A free text search engine, in case what you are looking for is not in the very full indices.
Mixxer: Skype-enabled Language Exchange Site
Mixxer is not the only language exchange site on the web. However, by making use of Skype and its API, it makes it very easy for a student or teacher to speak with a language partner with literally one click of the mouse.
Heterotopic Space: digitized audio commentary and student revisions
Professor Jeff Sommers and Sue Sipple have put together a website that analyzes the benefits of using audio commentary as a way of communicating feedback to student writing. Their site documents the benefits to both students and faculty, provides a literature review on the topic, and provides a set of guides to technologies for trying out this technique.