Confessions of an Academic Platypus

imgresWOW. I have never been to an International Society of Technology and Education (ISTE) conference before.  In fact, I have never been a member of ISTE until now.  You see, ISTE is mostly a K-12 organization, so there were very few of us University Ivory Tower members there mixing with the hoi polloi of teaching.

But, I was there.  I was TOTALLY there.

Why? For the simple reason that K12 teachers are the change makers, the developers, the directors of the educational experiences our students have before entering college, and I wanted to see what they were up to, technologically. Also, frankly, I have somewhat lower expectations for what Higher Ed faculty are up to, technologically.

Innovation, Thy Name is K12.

I have come to the disturbing realization that most of the higher education establishment is dragging its heels on technology, and instead of being out in front of education (as we should be) and leading innovation, we spend our days hunched over the yellowed pages of bygone syllabi or lost in the netherworld of Learning Management Systems.

I can’t tell you how many times I have begged fellow faculty members to just take a quick look at what Google Drive can do, or how to use Zotero in the classroom.

It is difficult to explain to “Dean Scowl” (a.k.a. almost any Dean I have ever met) how important it is that I have adequate WIFI in my classroom so my students can build a PLN in Twitter, when Dean Scowl has never used Twitter (and doesn’t want to), doesn’t know what a PLN is (and doesn’t want to know), and spends our valuable 15 minutes together lecturing me on the importance of student confidentiality and the danger of using the internet.  Sigh.

EdTech-Higher Ed Edition

It was liberating, to say the least, to know that there is such a thing as a “Technology Coach” in K12, that those Technology Coaches are making real change possible in our school systems, and that both faculty and students are demonstrating daily (not just lecturing) that learning is a life-long process of: [innovate-attempt | innovate-fail | innovate-succeed | Repeat].  I would love to know when Technology Coaches are going to become something in the PostSecondary (i.e. HigherEd) world.  (I have the distinct impression that my skill-set is about five years ahead of the jobs–unfortunately!).

The Problem of Differentiation in Higher Education

There are two problems with differentiation in Higher Education:  One is that Higher Ed frowns on anyone who is out of their “niche,” . . . and the other is that the niches are ill-defined.

Let me explain.  First, I am always out of my niche (you guessed that, right?).  I’m SUPPOSED to be an English Professor. That means, of course, I should concern myself with literature and writing . . . but there is the problem.  Literature and writing have spilled out beyond the pages of books and onto screens.  It has morphed from text on a page to transmedia works with interactive content, artistic renderings, graphic illustrations, social media experimentation–and it’s all part of the writing and literature we see every day.

Can you, with a straight face, imply that writing is still something done with a pen on a page?

Can you really postulate that literature is found only in tomes of paper and paste?

(Of course you can’t.)

Just as text moved from pages to pixel; pencil to ink, dot-matrix, to laser; and text to graphic — literature has moved with it.  Writing has become multimedia, multimodal.  This is why you will find some of the most ardent technology users in the English and Journalism departments of our schools, colleges, and universities.  We live by the word, and we know where it’s going.

Meanwhile, our Administrators, most lost in some 20th Century Business Model that doesn’t even exist in the business world, are concerned about us following the word where it leads us.  Why can’t we just stay where we belong?  Teaching students about communicating in the 21st century, they implore, should be the same as teaching them about comunicating in the 20th century!  Students need BASIC SKILLS!

But this isn’t 1980, and BASIC SKILLS go far beyond paper and pencil.  Basic Skills now include software, clouds, blogging, and mobile communication.  I have said before, and I will say again and again and again: teaching students without technology is a form of educational malpractice.

So what does this have to do with differentiation?  E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G

I’m supposed to be an English Professor, but that means I am also a technologist.  That makes the administration nervous.  After all, it used to be that they could say that I didn’t have “real world skills” they could compare with professionals outside of academia, requiring them to compensate me beyond the imaginary wages they deemed worthy for someone teaching the necessary skills of English Composition and literature (i.e. laughable and, yet, sad).

I am TOO differentiated to teach English (Translation: I make everybody nervous).

So, what do they do?  They attempt to contain people like me, corral us, and accuse us of trying to be something we are not. But that isn’t enough!  They have the consipiratorial assistance of “old-world” Professors who, scared of their lack of technological skills, and frightened by the prospect of changing their teaching style to accommodate today’s students, join in the shunning. Thus,  I am not a “real” English Professor–I am some sort of technology-crazed evangelist who is hell-bent on destroying the very basis of the English Language!  English departments become war-zones between the old and new, the “traditional” and the “crazy.”  (I’m one of the “crazy,” by the way.)

Confession:

I, my dear audience, am a Literary Apostate, an Anti-5-Paragraph Composition Zeolot.  I have denounced the sacred 30-minute pencil-and-paper essay exam to drink the foul draught of digital!

But wait!  I’m not done!  I’m also not differentiated enough.  That’s right!  Because, if I wanted to get a job doing something else at the college–say technology coaching–I wouldn’t be qualified to do that.  Yes, it’s true I am proficient with about five different LMS systems and at least 100 different applications for teaching and learning, but doesn’t matter because, as you are probably unaware, an “Instructional Technology” person is the only one who can do instructional technology at the college, and that person deals with the nuts and bolts of technology–not the prettified puffed-up ready-to-use in the classroom technology.

Right now, if I want to get a job in Instructional Technology (IT) at a college or university, I am expected to know how to program, network computers, and run a “help desk.”  College IT is a serious and important job (as overwhelming and thankless as teaching English, but pays a lot better).  For most colleges, this is the only type of Instructional Technology that exists.

I like to differentiate between “hard” IT and “soft” IT.  “Hard IT” is that which deals with hardware, and “Soft IT” is that which deals with software.  Right now, colleges are still stuck in the “hard IT = IT” bubble.  They haven’t yet realized that there is a whole world out there that isn’t being utilized because the “Hard IT” department is too afraid of security threats, overwhelming their WIFI networks, and containing their professors, staff, and students to single-sign on LMS systems.

Enter the Disruptor!

Electromatic Disruptor by Evil Noctis: http://evilnoctis.deviantart.com/

Electromatic Disruptor by Evil Noctis: http://evilnoctis.deviantart.com/

So, I want to be a Tech Coach/English Professor and help my fellow faculty members understand, use and teach with technology so that they can move into the 21st century, but there isn’t really a place for me yet.  I am between jobs, at present, and looking for that fit that probably won’t exist.  So I’m left with a question:

“Should I leave higher ed and move to K-12?”

Well, I can’t really do that either.  Even though I have taught a lot of the classes that Ed Majors need to take, I would be required to go back to school and get a bachelor’s degree in teaching to become a K-12 teacher.  Yeah, yeah.  I know that there is supposed to be an “alternative credentialing system” for moving into K-12, but it doesn’t really exist.  It is just a lot of nice words for politicians to mouth when parents complain about the lack of qualified teachers in the school system.  If you actually apply for a K-12 Job (and I have) you will find, as I did, that my 20 years of teaching experience isn’t considered because I wasn’t teaching in K-12.  Yeah, really.

So, I will probably misfit myself into another Lecture position and bide my time to wait for Higher Ed to catch up with me–but I won’t just stand by idyll for long. You see, there is a huge tsunami of K-12 students moving toward higher ed with an already ingrained understanding that Education=EdTech.  They will be arriving on campus this Fall, next Spring, the following Fall, and probably for the rest of recorded time.

Just drop me a line when you need a technology coach!

Welcome to English 2112 World Literature

Dear Students,

I will be using this blog to post a lot of “outside of D2L” stuff that you can access.  Some of the students in the course were not able to access D2L, so I want to make sure they don’t fall behind.  This is what we are doing this week:

Checklist:

Read Syllabus (official)

Read Syllabus (unofficial)

Read “European Enlightenment”

Read “Introduction to Tartuffe”

Watch Tartuffe Video While Reading the Play

Participate in Discussion=I’ll keep it open so you can do it later!

Write and turn-in Translation Paragraph: Write one well-formed, well-worded paragraph on the following: When you listened to the video while reading the play, there were times when the translation differed significantly. Identify one specific word or line that was different, and explain why you thought one translation was better than the other.

I hope this helps!!

Playing with NGram Viewer

Originally posted on Dr. Kassorla's Blog:

3220614-batman-vs-superman-1-tptivirz0s-1024x768

Yesterday I spent a few hours on the phone with a similarly geeky friend, Fredrick, playing with NGram Viewer from Google.  If you have never been on NGram Viewer, I have to warn you–make sure you have enough time!!  We got sucked in quick, and we stayed a while.

NGram Viewer is a wonderful tool that allows you to enter one or more terms  into a search box.  Then, through the magic of Google (search, books, pictures, etc.), you receive a wonderful graph informing you of the popularity of whatever you have entered.

As we played with the tool, we were looking for ways to use it in the writing classroom to generate authentic research.  For example, we put the word “ipod” into the Ngram viewer and got the following results:

ipod jpg

Then, of course, we asked, “Why were people in 1800 and 1905 so crazy about ipods?”  It’s easy to…

View original 641 more words

Don’t Waste Your Break! Learn Something!!

falling_snow3Most of us don’t know how to code.  I don’t.  

But, my dear students, I am trying to learn.

TRYING is the operative word here. Maybe I won’t get good at it, but if I keep trying, I am bound to learn something.

Spend a few weeks on your winter break learning to code.  It is something you will need for the rest of your life.  Below you will find a video, and a list of FREE sources to learn to code and/or to learn to code even better.  Get to it!!

Here’s a video to get your motivated:

Now go to any of these FREE sites to learn on your own!!

Codeacademy.org: Step by step, learn any language you want for free.  Great sandbox areas to learn and even local meetups if you get stuck.

Code.org: Advocacy organization with resources to get computer science into your schools and community.  They also have a directory for free”learn to code” events in your community.

Coderacer:  Learn to code with this free and easy computer game.

CodePlayer:  Learn how people made things by watching them do it.  A great “learn by watching someone else” site.  Then, join in and show others.

MIT Open Courseware: If you already know something and want to learn a lot more, this is a great site for motivated learners. You will find entire MIT courses here.

Udacity: Learn to code, or learn anything else you can think of.  This is a free and open courseware system!

Mozilla Developer Network:  Learn everything from the basics of coding to developing new software solutions.

Kahn Academy:  You know Dr. K loves Kahn Academy–and this is a great way to learn to code.  LOVE IT! (I think I’m doing this one, although the “CodeRacer” game looks like a blast too.

Great Infographic: Most Popular Books of all Time

I found this, and I had to post it.  So interesting!  Not only the information, but the way in which they organized the information for this infographic.  I love how they seemlessly integrated information and artwork.  Very impressive.

 

Mesopotamia: Lost Civilizations

In order to prepare us for our first discussion of World Literature, I would like you to have some context of not only the history of the literature, but the way in which that information was collected.

You will find that context in this Time-Life Video: Mesopotamia: Lost Civilizations.

It is approximately 50 minutes long, and will represent your first homework assignment of the semester:

A New Era: Atlanta Metropolitan State College

imgresDr. K just accepted a position at Atlanta Metropolitan State College as Assistant Professor of English!

If you are one of Dr. K’s former students–don’t worry!  I am still here for you!!  Just make sure you email me at my gmail account.

If you are one of Dr. K’s new students, welcome! We have a lot of learning ahead of us!!

 

CAU Academic Calendar 2013-14

I made a new academic calendar for CAU for 2013-14.

Feel free to use it, but remember this is not an OFFICIAL Calendar.  I have done my best to render it correctly, but if you use it, you use it at your own risk!

To use it with your own Google or iCal Calendar, click on the little plus sign on the bottom of the calendar I have posted here.

Dr. K

Hurray! The Semester’s Over! Here’s a List of 5 Things to Do Now to Prepare for Next Year!

braindrainI know you are exhausted.  You have poured everything in your brain out on some final’s paper or math test, and now you are ready to RE-LAX!  Yes!  You are going to hit the beach, work on the perfect recipe for sweet tea, enjoy a few moments to catch up with old friends, and sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep.

When you are done with that (it should take about a week or two), and you start thinking about next semester (because it is coming sooner than you think!), use some of your extra time to prepare yourself, digitally, for next year.

“WHAT? Dr. K, you SEEERIOUSLY can’t believe that I would spend my time getting ready for next fall?  PLEEEEZE!”

Yes, I seriously think you will spend some time getting ready for next fall.  I’m not suggesting some boring reading list–I am suggesting that you start preparing yourself by learning–really learning–some software that will put you ahead of your game for next year.

Here is Dr. K’s list of great things to do to get ready for next fall:

  • Math Readiness: check out fastfig.com, and learn how to use it!!  It is an amazing “word processor for math” that shows all the work and teaches you along the way.  It’s free, of course!! (Would Dr. K suggest a program you have to pay for?  Really?)
  • Research Readiness: Get to know Zotero.org.  It is the most powerful research tool you can ever have.  When you are researching, you only have to add a resource to Zotero and you are ready to produce a bibliography or works cited in record time, in perfect style, alphabetical.  It will also do citations–but you have to learn how!  Learn now and save yourself endless hours of work next fall!!
  • Job Readiness:  Make sure you have updated the resume and information on the WordPress blog you did in my class.  Make sure the page is public, and add your WordPress Blog address to any resume and/or cover letter you do for summer jobs.  Remember, you can add videos, pictures, whatever you want!  You also might want to update your theme and revise what you have posted so far so that it all looks professional.  If you need to brush-up on your WordPress skills, you can go here, or to any of the MILLIONS of YouTube videos about making a WordPress Site. You can also go to Dr. K’s “Get a Job!” Pinterest Site for some great advice about interviewing, resumes, etc.
  • Learn to Code:  Coding is the most important skill you can have in tomorrow’s job world–especially if you are going into Mass Media Arts!!  Dr. K suggests you check out codeacadamy.org to learn some seriously helpful HTML and CSS coding to really spiff up that WordPress site, or get super-serious with some PHP or Ruby.
  • And, of course, READ!! :)  Here’s a 25 page list of books suggested by the Black Caucus of the College Composition and Communication Organization! Don’t forget, Libraries are free!  (Kindle, anyone?) By the way, if you download the Kindle app on your laptop or iPad, and you search the Kindle Store from lowest to highest in price . . . You will see thousands of free books!!  :)
  • ReEnrollment Initiative for CAU–May 6-8

    ReEnroll

    Dear Students,

    If you are planning to enroll for next semester, please attend the special enrollment initiative next week!

    Date: Monday, May 6th through Wednesday, May 8th.
    Time: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Place: Cornelius Henderson Student Center, Multipurpose room

    What: You can get ready for next year!

    • Get re-enrollment assistance
    • Financial Aid information
    • Register for Classes
    • Make Financial Arrangements to clear balances
    • Secure Campus Housing

    Sincerely,

    Dr. K

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