Welcome to the fourth installment of the 2009 Teaching Carnival. For many of us, including myself, the end of the academic year is fast approaching, but even as stacks of papers to grade loom large, there continues to be a wealth of blog posts and videos reflecting on our teaching practices. With the South by Southwest Film Festival taking place over the last few weeks and with the significant challenges raised by the current economic crisis, I’ve been impressed by the number of bloggers who have been reflecting on the activity of teaching.
As usual, here are some definitions for those of you unfamiliar with the Teaching Carnival concept, along with some words of advice to consider as you read Carnival entries. Finally, thanks to Alan Benson for doing such an excellent job with Teaching Carnival 3.3, as well as Kathleen Fitzpatrick and Jason Jones for the first two 2009 carnivals. Check out the new issue below the fold:
Teaching and scholarly publishing: Mark Bauerlein’s “Professors on the Production Line, Students on Their Own” (see also Inside Higher Ed) makes a compelling argument that excessive publication requirements are getting in the way of teaching, prompting a number of insightful responses in the blogosphere: Alex Reid raises the point that students are hurt less by professors doing academic research than they are by the demands of working, socializing, and going to school. Collin Brooke also points out that at least some of the problems with student engagement may be attributed, in part, to the increasing reliance on contingent labor.
Claire Potter has an interesting “modest proposal” for the academic time crunch: make the first-year coursework pass-fail. Such a move, she suggests, would allow faculty and students to stress less about grades and hopefully would encourage more focused learning.
On a related note, Kathleen Fitzpatrick addresses the continued crisis in academic publishing and suggests letting open the “floodgates” to move toward a perr-to-peer review system. While she doesn’t address it directly, Kathleen’s account of a peer-to-peer publishing ecosystem would likely have some powerful implications for student research.
David Parry reports that some universities, including SUNY Albany, are starting to allow their students to file their dissertations under a Creative Commons license, rather than a more expensive copyright license.
Film and media studies posts: Students in Jason Mittell’s TV studies classes are offering some valuable reflections on one of the best serial TV shows out there, The Wire, in their course blog. Jason also provides a link to a “favorite teaching video” that he uses in his TV History courses.
Catherine Grant has been tirelessly assembling a wealth of materials on her Film Studies for Free blog. Most recently, she has compiled an amazing collection of film studies assignments available online. Among the many highlights is Nick Davis’s creative strategy to solicit feedback from the blogosphere on film reviews authored by his students, part of his course on The Film Review as Genre. Catherine also points to some reflections by Kevin Lee on his video essays as educational resources.
More from Catherine: Building from Nick Rombes’ ongoing 10/40/70 experiment, in which Nick freezes a film at 10, 40, and 70 minutes, grabs the frame, and writes about the film using only those three shots, Catherine imagines a similar activity working in the classroom. On a related note, Catherine points to Jeremy Butler’s tutorial on how to grab stills from video.
Daniel Anderson gave a talk at the 4C’s conference on “mix and mash literacy,” where he showed mash up video projects composed by first-year composition students.
Also worth checking out: a journalism student at UT Austin blogs a “flying seminar on the future of news.” The course itself, taught by Seth C. Lewis, looks fascinating, especially given all of the turmoil in the news industry.
SXSW Pedagogy panels: Significantly, pedagogy also cropped up as a major theme at this year’s South by Southwest Festival and Conference. Laura at Geeky Mom pointed to a panel devoted to the issues related to Edupunk. The panel featured Stephen Downes, Jim Groom, Barbara Ganley, and Gardner Campbell and consider, as Laura put it, “the role of higher education institutions in the future, the differences between institutional vs. personal learning, and generally what learning and education might mean as society moves forward.”
The expanded university: Riffing off a tweet by Howard Rheingold, Alex Halavais considers what it means to move the physical classroom to a local Panera bakery. Short version: better internet and parking, but no whiteboards, something Alex quickly learned to live without. Me: I’d probably gain ten pounds just standing next to all that bread.
David Parry praises the notoriously clunky course-management system Blackboard for (finally!) doing something right: creating an interface for the iPhone. Now, if I could just afford to buy an iPhone.
Calling for us to open our universities to a more practical engagement with the world, Kevin Prentiss points to a video lecture by Andre Malan.
Daniel Hickey picks up on Henry Jenkins’ recent white paper calling for a “spreadable,” education, one that builds on the logic and principles of new media while rejecting the negative connotations of “viral media” and “memes” that suggest passivity rather than active participation.
Alan Cann reflects on the concept of “uncourses,” which responds, in part, to a SXSW panel titled, “Beyond Aggregation.” On a related note, Alan, responding to an article on using virtual learning environments to reach “disengaged students,” also asks a question that I’ve been thinking about lately: what strategies are available for reaching these students?
Assignments, grading, and activities:Michael Wesch discusses his use of a SmartPen as a “digital ethnography” tool, going as far as suggesting that it might “revolutionize” how he writes down lecture notes in class.
Michael Arnzen discusses some collaborative quizzes he gave his students. Speaking of quizzes, Jason Jones considers the strengths and challenges of giving online quizzes and his decision to use teh open-source educational software, Moodle, for the task.
Bill Wolff asked his students to make class videos arguing why class should be canceled. This video, “Canceling Class is Awesome,” is the very funny result. Great use of silent film aesthetics, and serious props to the student stuntman who took a header into the snow just for a class project.
Jason also reflects on the challenges posed by grading and the tendency to grade too slowly and asks for suggestions on grading and “satisficing,” reaching a “good enough” level of commenting without overwhelming both students and ourselves. Finally, Jason fulfills a reader request and writes about online grading.
David Silver has a couple of recent cool assignments for his media studies students: A Google Maps assignment requiring students to think about “community mapping”and a blog assignment requiring students to blog events from a recent Human Rights Film Festival.
This is a few days old, but Wired Campus provides more fodder if you ever need to lecture your students on laptop use in class. Web surfing has been shown to significantly lower student grades.
Robert Cummings suggests using Wikipedia to teach writing.
Theorizing pedagogy: Bill describes a class activity in which he and his students theorize the metaphors we use to describe class discussion.
Delaney Kirk answers the question: How do you respond when a student complains that your tests are too hard?
Wrapping up: Thanks for reading. The next installment of Teaching Carnival will be hosted in two weeks by David Parry. If you enjoyed reading these links, please consider contributing (or even hosting) in the future.