Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Same Bat Wages

I saw this on Andrew Sullivan. It needs wider play. What would Batgirl say today?

Friday, September 01, 2006

What's a Democracy?

Keith Olbermann, former Sports Center host, calls Rumsfeld for task on Rummy's recent speech to the American Foreign Legion.

The text of the speech can be found here.

This week, both President Bush and Rumsfeld played the 1940's Fascism card. I will try to post more on these speeches this weekend.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Lost footage fuels suspicion (even more)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"Tis a Fair Court"

This story continues to bother me.

To review: Professor William Woodward at Wisconsin believes certain conspiracies about 9/11 (For a review of conspiracy theories, go here. For refutations of the conspiracies, go here.) According to Inside Higher Ed, the professor believes that, "U.S. leaders have lied about what they know about 9/11, and were involved in a conspiracy that led to the massive deaths on that day, setting the stage for the war with Iraq." Sometimes, he expresses these views in class (the article states that when he discusses his views, he makes clear to students that his views “are controversial” and that most people disagree. (Local press reports, quoting students of a variety of political views, back Woodward’s summary of his class approach on the issue.) However, the article does not say how he presents these views, especially if he offers his students a chance to refute them or if he mentions other views. Academically, Woodward studies psychology, focusing on political psychology and psychology of race. This semester he is teaching a class on Islam.

State and Congressional Representatives, mainly Republicans, want the University to fire Professor Woodward. According to Inside Higher Ed, one representative wants to fire Woodward because, "“there are limitations to academic freedom and freedom of speech” and that “it is inappropriate for someone at a public university which is supported with taxpayer dollars to take positions that are generally an affront to the sensibility of most all Americans.”

My question is simple: instead of trying to refute the arguments by using, oh, I don't know, evidence, why do politicians employ red herrings? And further, as one commenter to the post said, why are these officials concerned about offending the sentiments of the people when so many things legislators do offend the people?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Virtual balls

The semester officially started yesterday. I'm teaching a Web-based technical writing class for the first time. I love teaching writing, so I've been a bit bummed out about the idea of not having the traditional student-teacher interaction to which I'm accustomed. On the other hand, I've been quite excited about engaging Internet technology as a full-time teaching tool.

Yesterday, I sent an instructional handout to my students. The handout tells them how to login to and navigate through our course site. It's pretty basic stuff. Now, for anyone who has taught before, you know that it can be difficult to get students to speak up during the first week or two of class. Such is not the case online. Within no time of emailing the handout, students started browsing the site and even introducing themselves. The introductions began without any sort of prompting by me. As soon as they found the blog section of the site, they just started writing. I'm still a bit in shock.

What makes the rhetorical situation of the online course so different than that of the traditional classroom that students are anxious to speak up? I don't know. But I do have a few ideas. Two, in particular:

1) The online course let's students create ideal personae. Unlike the traditional classroom, instead of feeling that their real selves--personality flaws and all--are on constant display, the virtual classroom let's students reveal to the public only those qualities that they want to reveal, those qualities with which they are most comfortable. Stduents feel less exposed online.

2) Given the (theoretically) democratic nature of Internet technology, maybe the oppressive structure of the traditional classroom is circumvented, creating an honest-to-God decentered classroom. Accordingly, instead of waiting for teachers to fill their heads with knowledge, students take a more active role in their education. If this is true, then teachers of online courses may finally become those facilitators for which process pedagogy has had them striving for nearly forty years.

I don't know if either of these points is relevant. But they seem very likely to me. In the end, however, I don't really care what drives the eagerness of students to participate in the online course. I'm just glad they seem to be excited it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

For your enjoyment and intellectual stimulation

Having not made a blog entry for several days, I nearly forgot how genius my posts were. This one is certainly no exception.