Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don’t Go – Chronicle.com

AN ACADEMIC IN AMERICA

Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don’t Go

It’s hard to tell young people that universities view their idealism and energy as an exploitable resource

[From Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don’t Go – Chronicle.com]

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I think this should not just be Humanities, it is somewhat the same in the social sciences, physical and chemical sciences. biological sciences might be different, but that might be changing also. There are only so many jobs, and there fewer jobs all the time.

Many colleagues expect an increase in graduate student enrollment in the next few years in many fields, as that always happens in a downturn. However, they know that of the few that actually graduate with their ph.d.’s, fewer will get jobs, and of those, even fewer will get tenure. It isn’t about talent as much as willingness to submit to the system and grinding through:)

Fellowship and Conference

Since Tuesday I have been in Milwaukee visiting SOIS and CIPR as part of my Information Ethics fellowship. I attended a discussion about a possible future conference on translating intercultural information ethics across the situated understandings that term implies across a plurality of contexts. That seems like a great project, I’m happy to help out there. For the rest of the time, I attended the conference Thinking Critically:Alternative Perspectives and Methods in Information Studies. It was an excellent conference and I met many interesting people in the field of information studies, most of which are leaders in their field or soon to be so. I also attended the 2008 Samore Lecture: “Interpreting the Digital Human,” by Professor Rafael Capurro, at the Allis Museum, which provided an excellent end to the conference. I had excellent dinners and conversation with colleagues that I’ve not seen for some time, and with new friends and colleagues. I suspect that I’ll be seeing many of these people again over the years. It was a great experience all around, though I did not get enough writing done on a promised paper that is overdue. It really looks like the CIPR and SOIS are up to some great things and I’m happy to be affiliated with them as an Ethics Fellow for another year.

Unrelated to the conference and my fellowship, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Thomas Malaby who has a book forthcoming on Linden Lab. We spoke at length about problems of research, computer game studies, his work with Linden Lab and his related work. It was a fantastic conversation and I hope to have similar conversations in relation to my work in Second Life in the future.

All in all the problem of alternative methods and the communities that support them is an important issue in my career. I have been affiliated with many groups on this topic from Phil Graham’s old NewMediaResearch, heterodox economics, and the political science perestroika movement list, to my current work with InterpretationandMethods and Theory, Policy and Society, not to mention my work with the Association of Internet Researchers. The work that I perform is primarily interpretive methods, from ethnography to textual analysis, though I’ve been known to use quantitative when it adds to the argument. The key to me though is to come to notion of understanding and being able to communicate what actually leads to certain understandings of the world. It concerns me that there are so many people with so many of the same issues across so many different disciplines and there is so little conversations amongst them. Though there are broad interdisciplinary efforts and efforts toward inclusion.

Blackboard wins initial round on patent suit damages awarded 3+million

The verdict, announced this afternoon, allows Blackboard Inc. to demand a ban on sales of Desire2Learn’s products in the United States.

[From TheRecord.com – News – Local: Jury rules against Desire2Learn in patent case ]

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I cannot help but wonder why this patent has not been invalidated. There has to be innumerable examples of this actually occurring in universities before blackboad, and beyond that, the patent does not seem to be particularly innovative in context, it seems to me to be mapping practices, but hey that’s my opinion, and the court disagrees.

morning IM chats on teaching with technology

A colleague brought up the recent inquiry on technology in the classroom here which led to my general use of high technology in the classroom as found below:

me:
10:33 way back when i started teaching
10:34 my colleagues introduced me to the most handy bit of kit
10:34 it’s called a codex
10:34 it is a collection of paper bound at the edge with glue or other means
10:34 now quite amazingly… you’d think that this bit of technical kit, well, it’s useless.
10:35 but people have appropriated it and filled it with all kinds of things, pictures, drawings, and words
10:35 some people have even taken the explicit step of ordering these things, pictures and words in a way that apparently is intended to convey meaning

interlocutor:
10:36 well that’s crazy

me:
10:36 and i’m like ‘holy cow!’
10:36 you mean someone
10:36 has gathered all their knowledge on a topic
10:36 and put it in a codex
10:36 and students can get hold of this thing
10:36 isn’t that dangerous?

interlocutor:
10:36 HORRIBLY DANGEROUS

me:
10:36 i mean what if it tells them how to skip class
10:37 or worse, how to fold their graded assignments in to lewd origami?

interlocutor:
10:37 I’m shocked and apalled

me:
10:37 but then i saw one of these things, and tried to use it in class
10:37 and OMG
10:37 the students that could read and spent time reading it…
10:37 their performance improved dramatically
10:37 no more did they just have to reiterate what i said before
10:38 though that is always appreciated, and some still strive for that
10:38 they could actually ‘interpret the meanings’ in the codex and occasionally you find one or two that will combine those meanings with other meanings and actually teach me something
10:38 man… that’s scary
10:39 but it adds a new exciting edge to the classroom
10:39 so… technology in the classroom, it’s great!

interlocutor:
10:41 I dunno
10:41 it sounds…dangerous

me:
10:42 well, I have to admit that it is actually slightly less dangerous than having the students re-enact the lessons of history with pointed sticks and rocks, though that was all in all very learning intensive on many levels

Weblogg-ed » What Do We Know About Our Kids’ Futures? Really.

What Do We Know About Our Kids’ Futures? Really.

[From Weblogg-ed » What Do We Know About Our Kids’ Futures? Really.]

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there is an interesting discussion occurring at weblogg-ed about kids and learning. my addition is that kids have learned to be compartmentalized, not taking intellectual risks, and losing to some extent their curiousities in favor of performance of others’ goals.

Carmun – Social Networking for Writing School Papers

Carmun – Social Networking for Writing School Papers:
The cheeky YouTube video that explains Carmun describes the service as “Wikipedia meets Facebook”. But essentially its a social network for people who have to write term papers. There’s lots of tools for asking peers questions, managing bibliographies, and some del.icio.us-esque tools for saving online sources.

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Looks like a tool that composition classes might be interested in developing.