Friday, February 16, 2007

    Are you viral?

    Following a recent story, found here, in InsideHigherEd, I have been thinking a lot about how to teach to the Web 2.0 crowd.

    You may know if you read much of my blog that I am a techno geek at heart. I luv me the RSS feeds…

    The article linked above talks about a sociology prof whose video about Web 2.0 became “viral,” spreading around the world in just a few days. The author goes on to dream of other teachable videos spreading education and knowledge through this newfangled ‘puter thing.

    Perhaps they are partly right. Mostly, though, they are wrong. The video, seen here, is linkable because it is well crafted. While I think it is a bit overdone (HTML did not revolutionize thought—that was done many years ago—see Dada, Warhol, Derrida, etc.), it is well-presented.

    The iPod has sold well because it is slick. YouTube and the ilk allow for user contribution…and web 2.0 tauts itself as user controllable. Some of this is true. I move toward that which I can participate in. I like to dabble and play. YouTube, Blogger, etc. all allow me to have an active hand (passive if watching, but then active if responding, commenting, linking, etc.). So, that which allows for action (let’s call actionable items “cool”) gets traction.

    I like that. Gives me something to do.

    Would you like me to read this to you? Listen

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

    The UofP

    Cross-posted here:

    [Dean Dad offered some comments on the UofP. Here is my reply]

    I think I can offer a unique comment here. I have worked for the UofP. It was during my furious adjuncting time (10 adjunct classes at three institutions), and the problems go deeper than either the article or Dean Dad describe.

    DD offers that the UofP could decrease adjuncting by hiring more full-timers. In order to do so, though, they would have to rewrite their mission. They claim to hire working instructors--the myth of a well-heeled business person teaching one class on the side. In reality, adjuncts are offered multiple sections, which means that they are either working full-time elsewhere and part-time teaching, or slamming together a lot of part-time gigs (my personal favorite).

    Then, there is the matter of centralized content. Instructors are required to teach only the material the UofP provides. There is little opportunity for deviation. You are given the readings, rubrics and dates (I was teaching a 5 week, online course). It was Draconian, and I walked away.

    So, given that there is only limited amount of opportunity--and that opportunity is itself limited to "facilitating" (their term) their content--then the labor pool available to the UofP shrinks, and the quality of instruction suffers pushing down retention.

    It is a vicious cycle that is taking, in my opinion, way too long to complete.

    Would you like me to read this to you? Listen