08 May 2010

Whew! Am I glad that's over!

Okay, so it's not really over.  Well, Spring session at SPC is over... but I'm still in the midst of exams at HCC--have one more to give on Monday, and THEN it's over.  Then I have a lovely 4 days off before the fun starts all over again for Summer session!  Joy!!! Okay, really, I'm okay with it... but I do wish we had a bit more time between Spring and Summer.  Cuz, see, we get this lovely month off after Summer session (which is always when the creative finances come out to play... but that's another post altogether...)

So, let's see here.... Okay, I want to give some kudos to my SPC students, they (mostly) did really well.  and so far, so have the HCC students.  We'll see how the Monday students do.  But I wanted to mention one student in particular (who's partially to blame for me starting a blog...) and the idea he prompted me to start looking into earlier this week.  Although, I have to say, at the moment, it's still just an idea, and I haven't had a chance to look into it... So, I always offer my students extra credit in the form of a writing / reading journal.  Very few of them take me up on it, and fewer still do well on it, usually not realizing the difference between a writing journal and a diary.  But every once in a while I get a most awesome gem.  A few sessions ago, it was the journal of an artist, who incorporated her artwork with her thoughts on the various things she read or saw, and it was just one of the coolest looking journals I've ever seen. It was also well written, because she was (and is) a particularly conscientious student.

This past session, the journals I received were good, but in general by no means spectacular.  Except for one particular student. This particular student, Chris, asked if a blog would be okay. I thought the idea sounded brilliant, not least because then I could read it throughout the session, and not be inundated by it at the end, but also because I remembered this guy from the Comp 1 class he took with me, and I remembered the wonderful insights he had on the quotation assignments I did that summer, and how I was always a bit sad to see his work end. He has such an interesting voice, that I literally couldn't wait to see his work.

So, what was the idea he prompted, you ask?  I'm getting to it, I'm getting to it! (yes, I love a good tangent...) Okay, so in Chris's last post on the journal blog (which you can find here...) he mentioned that he would like to take a class in "blogging (or perhaps online writing)" which triggered in the dim recesses of my memory the graduate work that a friend of mine was doing a few years ago.  In fact, her dissertation is on blogging.  I've not had a chance to read it, but I'd certainly like to, particularly since she's brilliant, and I've found myself, over the last week, itching to write something here (curses on having too much work...)  (Oh, Chris also said I was unafraid to try new things. Seriously, she could teach the instructors of my more technical classes a few things about being innovative. Office hours on Skype was particularly great."  That just plum tickled me... Seriously, that's like the best compliment I could EVER possibly receive as a professor.) Okay, so back to the idea Chris prompted... I often try (and rarely succeed) to incorporate info on resume writing in my classes, because it's important, and well, I used to be a resume writer.  So that, I know.  But the minute Chris expressed a wish to see a class on online writing, I got to thinking, what exactly would that entail?  I know that there could be (and probably is, at some other institution) a full class already developed for this.  And I think there's a definite need for it.  Think of all the different types of online writing there is--emailing, blogging, commenting, Skype, twitter, Facebook, MySpace, online courses... the list literally goes on for days... These are just things that I've used, and I freely admit, I'm jumpin' in the boat a bit late here (for instance, I'm teaching my FIRST EVER online class this summer...) And the caliber of writing I've seen online runs the gamut from brilliant, both technically and contextually, to downright dismal.  I've seen blogs from people trying to be legitimate, and who probably have very good ideas, that I quite frankly COULD NOT make heads or tails of! And let's not get started on the tech aspects of the whole deal... So, what would one include in class on online writing, or, more specifically for me, a module on online writing?  This should, ideally, be a thing that occurs AFTER the basics of Academic writing have been covered. And obviously, those same guidelines I request that my students follow in their academic papers would be relaxed in a class on online writing, but what else would be included?  Definitely a tidbit on tone, and persuasive arguments (some of the comments I've read on various articles and whatnot are appalling! So rude!)

I know that this is something that I'm going to have to ponder for a while, and I'll keep you posted on my progress.  This definitely seems like something that needs to be included in the curriculum...


1 comment:

  1. I'd love to see your friend's dissertation, that sounds interesting. I've never written resumes professionally, but I'm usually the go-to guy among my friends and family when they need one. It definitely is a skill that's been neglected - though I don't see *how* they missed it. I wrote my first resume back in middle school, with follow up lessons in high school. It astounds me that there are people in my parent's generation that don't know how to do it. I suppose it's the shift from "the company will always be there for you" to "you've been 'right-sized!'"

    I'm not a teacher, nor have I played one on television, but I would think that the venue (Facebook, traditional blogging, etc) would matter less than the style you approach it with. Twitter is an exception obviously due to the character limit. For instance, blogging tends to be more personal even on a "professional" blog - sort of like the moment in Frank Sinatra concert where he would loosen his tie, take a snort of scotch and talk to the audience. An actual personal blog is even more wild, wooly and anything goes.

    Obviously this goes along with basic grammar, spelling, and the five second rule. What's the five second rule? When someone says something on the internet (via comment, email, etc) that really annoys you - take fives seconds and a couple of deep breaths before responding at the minimum.

    Another thing that such a class might want to stretch is the difference between legitimate promotion (letting people who are interested in what you have to offer know you do stuff online) and spam. The fact that I don't have to explain to my Dad (for instance) what spam is tells you how pervasive it is - better to be seen as someone with good ideas to share and not the latter.

    I think that online writing has more to do with social mores, and not much to do (except in some very rare cases ) with technical issues. Feel free to shoot me an email (or a Wave - google wave is public now and you should try it out: wave.google.com) if you want to discuss anything or have questions on the technical side of things.

    Thank you again for another great composition class! I'm going to miss it (not that Javascript isn't fun, but it isn't the same.)