New Blog Site

Ok…I gave in, purchased my own domain name, and paid someone to help me develop a content management system (sorry…time wasn’t there!). So, if you are a follower, or found this and want to follow, I’m now located at:

I think I am going to slowing transfer all the posting over. Part of that activity will get me familiar with my new system as well as how I decide to divvy up the site!

C&W 2007: Serendipity

I had a shock last Wednesday (well…a couple weeks ago now) while boarding the plane to Detroit for the computers and writing conference–to my surprise my colleague and his wife (also a good friend) were sitting across the aisle from me. They were headed off to a conference about Arab American Writers. 
Look at the pamphlet in the lower right hand corner of the picture…it was for their conference, and another colleague and I found it at a local restaurant in Detroit. How weird! I guess we can all start singing “It’s a small world after all.”

C&W 2007: Power of Adjectivals

One of the nights that we were running around Detroit a colleague kept telling us stories about her former boyfriends. There was the boyfriend with the short arms. The boyfriend during graduate school. The boyfriend with the irritating mother who wanted to teach her to cook. ETC… And of course, the focus here is on the storytelling. We all got good laughs about these former boyfriend stories and what are colleague learned about herself in the process. Finally, at the end of the night, our colleague made a slip. She mentioned something that pulled two of the stories together. Another colleague and I caught on quickly and started to unravel the web of stories. Lo and behold, the stories were all of the same guy! All evening we had been imagining that our colleague has had this wonderful mish-mash of relationship experiences (which indeed, she has) with a variety of individuals (nah…we didn’t think she was a hussy, not us!).

I wish my students had been there to participate in this event. It was a wonderful lesson on the power of adjectivals. All of the different detailed descriptors about the noun “boyfriend” made it appear that there were many more boyfriends in play. Buy splitting up the telling of the adjectivals we slowly built a very multi-faceted understanding of this individual.

Enough of being a word/communication geek!

C&W 2007: Open Source Workshop

Let’s just start with WOW! The folks who organized this workshop did a great job of providing resources, providing quick introductions and leaving time for play. As those of you who occasionally swing by and read my blog know, both my dissertation research as well as other assessment data from workshops I have facilitated indicates, faculty committed to technology generally just need more scheduled play time to keep up with technology. I felt completely at home with my laptop open, working stuff from this workshop, other materials, and asking questions along the way. Participating in this workshop has helped me stick to my “more open source” commitment.” Mini-me is only running open office. I’m trying to only use open office at home. I’m slowly playing with the other cool stuff they demoed (see the second link below). I’m very excited about them showing the portable apps stuff as well. I’m looking forward to demoing portable apps with a group of students who do not own their own computers.

The Wacky World of Bathrooms

About five years ago, a couple of my friends/colleagues and realized that we all liked to keep track of funky bathrooms. Since then, when we find a funky bathroom we generally try to bring it to one another’s attention. This past week when I was in Detroit at Computers & Writing I was with one of my “funky bathroom” friends. Without knowing that the Cass Cafe was one of the places highly suggested by a colleague who went to school in Detroit, we ended up there late Wednesday night (it was one of the few places still serving food!). We had great food, nice classes of wine, and a wonderful laugh over the bathroom.

The other stall had a loop and hook setup that looked like it could hold together a truck and trailor hitching. For more pics from the Cass Cafe, and one of its “tame” pieces of art, check out my flickr site.

Humanities for the Net Generation

Many of our “traditional” aged students already have the tools to compose multimodal compositions, multimodal pieces of art, right in their cell phones. They do not eschew the humanities, they just need someone to help make the explicit connection between what they are currently doing, and humanistic traditions of the past. Shows like Battlestar Galactica and the broadway play Spring Awakening have demonstrated a manner in which we can help our students make these connections. Not only do they engage the narrative across multiple media, like Spring Awakening‘s music videos for the iPod as well as MySpace and Facebook page and BG‘s short internet webisodes that connected seasons 2 and 3, they also ask their fans to participate in continuing the narrative themselves (in true Star Wars fan fiction fashion, one of my favorites being Troops). Both narrative franchises invited fans to remix pieces of material into their own storylines. BG worked through their website at; SA used Eyespot.

I’m excited to see these types of tools and “official” activities to engage students in multimodal competitions. I think traditional humanities instructors need to learn from these examples to help make connections to their contemporary students. For example, I love showing The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to my intro to film students and then show Rob Zombie’s music video for “Living Dead Girl.” Being able to discuss how and why he did this gets students to think about why knowing the history of horror films is important to Rob Zombie, both as a musician and a filmmaker.

Ultimately, this gets me thinking about how I’m about to start teaching my early American literature survey class. I was already planning on using wikis to have students publish their reports and interpretations about the material they read; however, I’m not thinking it might be useful to have them really think about the work rhetorically. What was the purpose for some of these early American writers. If they had the same purpose today, what different modes of media might they write and publish in? Why? How would it fit their purpose and audience needs? Could be fun!

Thanks to a Webware post for prompting this post!

You get what you name

This past January I had a friend build me my first “home built” desktop. I named her Starbuck, after the hotshot pilot on Battlestar Distractica. Well she has definitely taken after her namesake. She rocks…when she’s on, she’s hot. But she is also one temperamental beaoch. She has been in and out of the shop since she was built. We had another incident this week, video card. I’ve learned two things from all of this:

  1. when you name them, they live up to their names (and yes, mini-me has lived up to her name as well…we’re currently taking over the world from the local Irish pub)
  2. RedSeven rocks! If you are in the phoenix area and you need PC help…RedSeven is the place to go.

Hopefully I’ll get a few blogs out this weekend…I’ve got a few new techs I want to play with!

Sandbox: Does a techno-teacher need Dapper?

I had to watch the entire demo video; however, I think I figured out that Dapper allows someone to make their own widgets. I’ll be honest, I can’t imagine asking my students (remember folks, I teaching writing and film studies) to use this tool. However, I think it might be a tool that is useful to teachers building discipline, even course or class, specific elements for their webpages, course management systems, or blogs. The tool is not super-easy to use. I’m definitely saving it for a “rainy” day when I’m really avoiding grading, or really have nothing else to do. If someone else understands this tool differently, and/or imagines it being used in education differently, definitely let me know!


Sorry about that folks, Devon just helped me realized that it was demanding that you have an edublogs account to be able to comment. I think I just turned off that feature. I’m hoping I don’t get tons of spam now…!!!

Sandbox: Pedagogical Images

One of the things that first wowed me about Flickr was the ability to annotated picture. For example, I annotated this picture (below). Now, linking to it from the blog does not carry the annotations. You have to go to the actual flickr page to see and read the annotations.

2view is another tool that allows you to annotated pictures…besides those in flickr. I’ve used 2view to annotated this same picture. I think that 2view allows you to somehow incorporate the script for the annotations into your own posting of the picture (like in this blog); however, I didn’t quite figure it out. If someone else does, please reply below! 🙂

Now, this type of graphic annotating would be lovely if I was teaching anatomy; however, I can image using it on still images from a film to talk about a specific frame. Obviously, however, there are still copyright issues. Ideally these types of tools work best with images that you have copyright control over. Ahh…if I were teaching photography a tool like this could be used for a student to reflect on choices he or she made in the picture’s composition. Or it could be used by an instructor, or classmates, to give feedback on the same picture.

As I continue to agree with my rhetoric and composition colleagues who argue we need to be teaching multi-modal composition, finding tools like 2view and Slidez, an online slide show tool, gives me ideas on how to teach, assign, and provide critical feedback for multi-modal compositions.