To students who commit minor course infractions or what they see as such, I tend to say one thing: "Life happens." Much of what we do in this life is an attempt at ordering chaos around or at least making sense of it. College, like so many other undertakings, is an intrusion upon chaos and sometimes we are reminded of that. As John Lennon once penned, "life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." And life happens to teachers as well as students. How this impacts course and semester plans often loom larger in an instructor's mind than can be measured or recognized beyond that.
This is my roundabout explanation for the lack of a reflective entry about Week 7. That is, life happened to me last week. I was in a situation that I felt required me to at least be offline for a while. I'm pretty good about not writing online while angry or sad, but there was a hint or two of me breaking that. The most recognizable hint of life happening remains the absence of a reflective entry here about Week 7.
Still, I apologized in both #111cr and #252ac this week about said absence. I try to stress in all my courses the importance of keeping communication lines open and I felt that my inactivity during Week 7 may have betrayed that. However, one noticeable result of my apology was the bewilderment and confusion of some students. Within seconds, one student even tweeted that they didn't feel or notice any greater distance that I'd put between myself and the class. This tells me that life happens to us all so much that our interpreted levels of involvement can be quite different. The impact of our inaction can rarely be measured with accuracy because we already have so much going on.
Recent writings online by students are further evidence of life happening, college-oriented and otherwise. Car trouble and course loads as well as future-fretting and existential angst about English degrees stand among the issues for students I'm working with this semester. For as much as we might want to maintain focus on course-related topics, life happens and we are compelled or even beholden to documenting it.
From my perspective, it is a good thing that #111cr and #252ac students are or have grown to feel comfortable writing online about life happening. For the most part, they aren't making excuses but instead taking responsibility for their inaction and/or misgivings, thereby keeping me and their peers more honest. I have a persistent point of curiosity in all this, though: Is it my pedagogy or the technology allowing/encouraging students to document life happening and/or voice concerns about the course? Furthermore, would this happen in an uncompromising LMS like Blackboard?
Blogging requirements end next week for this class. Given the shift in focus to the final project, from more informal online writing to more formal academic writing, I think this makes sense. Students' last required blog entry reflects on Mashup Scholarship. As usual, that assignment remains the most polarizing writing task I've designed yet.
After doing the assigment I really liked it. I think it should be used in classes even. I was more intreseted in the facts that I was learning rather than thinking how to put it in my own words and cite correctly. It cut the bullshit out of it.
There was definitely a voice in my head that was yelling at me while copying and pasting, but once I started to ignore the voice telling me that it was wrong to be doing this, I actually flew through the assignment. I actually found the Mash Up Scholarship to be very helpful because I started to really understand my sources and remember some facts throughout the articles. Overall my hate for the Mash Up Scholarship at the being changed to actual enjoyment for the overall assignment. So, I fully believe that this assignment should be repeated by other students because I believe it will be very helpful for them before doing a big paper.
I hated the mashup assignment. I love the idea and concept, but it didn't work for me. I know others liked the whole thing and did it with ease, but I struggled with it greatly. For one reason, I have too broad of a topic. I need to work on my area of interest and narrow it down so that I can hit all of the points and do it well as well as find good scholarly articles that can support my idea.
I hated and loved this assignment all in the same day. I did gain a lot of information on universal healthcare, and I do see how it can connect to "The Big One" in a few weeks. However, I hated this assignment. It was hard to undertand in the beginning which made it take longer than it was already going to take. It was difficult taking 5 seperate articles and trying to collaborate the ideas all into one. It was difficult for me to also not add any of my own thoughts into this assignment. It was just a difficult assignment for me all the way around. I do see though how it can be a help to us in the future, and it also gives a new interesting writing technique.
My thoughts on this mashup scholarship assignment are pretty clear, I was not a huge fan of it. I know that the point of the assignment is to bring new perspectives of writing styles into our life. I felt that it did have some good intentions though. It allowed us to bring the most important parts of an article on a certain subject and bring them all together, which I liked. It saved me from reading the pointless bullshit in an article that really has nothing to do with the subject at hand.
I didn’t think it was as helpful as the others. The pop up scholarship gave you a chance to comment on the article which I felt made me understand the article and develop a good analysis of it. The reverse engineering scholarship helped me to discover different things I can include in my article to make it more interesting and longer. By deleting them things and being forced to cut it down made me more aware of its content. The mash up scholarship just showed us how to plagiarize and put multiple pieces of literature together. Teachers won’t ask us to do this and if we do this, we will get kicked out of school; so what’s the point?
Blogging requirements will remain until the end of the semester. Even though this class is also shifting focus to the final project after completing Distraction-Free Writing, I think it important for students to use online spaces for writing and working through the semester-end assignment.
Even as I write this, I am sitting in a class flipping between the word document I am writing this in and glancing at the board and taking notes in another window. I think if I were told to only do one thing at a time, for example-just write, I wouldn't be able to do it.
This is the day of information overload, the wonderful wild west of data-bytes before the colonization and enclosure of rules and regulations. I believe the end of this era is coming, but that’s for another blog post.
But where does this leave the writer?
We never know when someday it will be the most common form of communication, or even talking with a similiar idea using your cell phone? It's hard to guess what the future brings becuase no one thought that we would be updating our status's by pushing a button on our phone that knows the exact location that we are at the moment.
My hate of writing has almost taken a complete 180 (currently at about 162) just because the way we write has changed. If it was not for this I believe I would still cringe every time an assignment is given. Writing as a hobby should be fun and it becomes more so when the ability to share your work and get feedback of any sort on it is included.
Occasionally, group work is constructive. But most of the time, it sucks. This is due to classes that don't actually promote groupwork, and instead just force students together for an assignment.
How much can we really justify spending precious time teaching cursive to student in the classroom when they could be focusing more on reading skills, spelling, or even computer skills. What does cursive really have to offer students in the upcoming generations?