Teaching With Tablets

I propose a session to talk about teaching with iPads, or any other flavor of tablet. (Android, Kindle, etc. All are welcome!)

If you’re using tablets as a teaching tool, come talk about what has worked (and what hasn’t). What are your favorite apps to use in class, and why are they worth my money? How do you use tablets to enable students to collaborate on projects and assignments? We can talk methods and strategies and, of course, do some show and tell.

My not-so-secret motivation: my school recently purchased several classrooms sets of iPads, so I’ll be working with teachers to integrate them into lessons and I’d love to explore ways to get beyond using them as a mobile Google search device.

More Disruptive Pedagogy: Thoughts on Teaching an Un-course

The idea for this session stems from my experiences and challenges teaching a graduate public history course on the theory and practice of digital history.  The first challenge I face has to do with coverage: what are the most important things that students should know to get a reasonable introduction to the field?  The second challenge regards levels of experience: some students have little or no experience with anything beyond word processing and using an online catalog; others are far more advanced in their skill level (the last time I taught the course I had a student with an undergraduate degree in computer science. Talk about a humbling experience). The third challenge is keeping up with the field and making sure that the course stays fresh and up to date.

So, what I’d like to discuss is — would the un-conference model, in which students decide on at least some of the themes and topics of the course, work for a graduate level course?

Community, Collaboration, and Authority: Museums and Technology

Technology is democracy. It can give everyone a voice or a vote. Sometimes this democracy works out well (kickstarter, etc). Sometimes not so much (@sweden, made some news recently). The Walter Art Musem in Baltimore tried crowdsourcing an exhibition that was pretty well received, but the Pittsburgh Symphony’s attempt to find a member on YouTube was nixed.

I am interested in a few questions relating to the democratizing force of technology in museums. First, should curators give up their authority, or have it take a lesser role in concert with visitor knowledge (I believe one of Mills Kelly’s students found an error in the Star Spangled Banner exhibit)? Is curatorial authority still needed? Secondly, is there a limit to the voice of the public? Should comments be moderated in historically sensitive areas (slavery, World War II, etc.). Do comments need to turn into conversation to be truly useful?And finally, what do you do if no one really cares? In a 2004 visitor survey conducted by the Smithsonian, the average age of the visitors was 37 years, only 30% of visitors were younger than 27. The museums subreddit has 25 subscribers with seven posts in two years. Are museums still culturally relevant, and will they be in 20 years?

Role Playing Games (RPGs) in the Classroom: Fleshspace vs. Digital

We are being increasingly encouraged to “gamify” the classroom. Educators such as Cathy N. Davidson (Now You See It(@cathyndavidson) and Jane McGonigal (Reality is Broken) have suggested that games can help engage students in deeper ways than traditional learning methods.

I’d like to discuss how we can best implement Role Playing Games, or RPGs, in higher education. RPGs are well suited to the classroom because of their structure, which encourages students to identify with their characters and game objectives. Some excellent pedagogical examples include Reacting to the Past at Barnard, a series of elaborate historical games where students roleplay real historical characters with the possibility of changing historical events through mastery of historical and cultural knowledge (for more information, see my blog post here), and the Practomime project, where Latin students have to thoroughly assimilate into the ancient Roman world to save the world.

The following questions may be helpful in guiding discussion: how we can use digital tools to enhance role playing learning efforts (course websites, wikis as “codexes”, social media for team building/knowledge sharing)? Further, how, and should, these role-playing become digital in form? Most successful classroom RPGs have been “fleshspace” based, where gameplayers meet in person. How can we use the digital to enhance the “fleshspace” experience, and to augment or transform it?

Shell tutorial

@plbogen and @m_steph_m and I have been tweeting about learning command line stuff. We would like to have a shell tutorial! I asked for links to help, and here’s what I got:

Who can GIVE a shell tutorial?

Who wants to TAKE a shell tutorial?

N.B. If no one can (or is willing to) give a shell tutorial, I would be happy to have a working session choosing one of the docs linked above and working our way through it as a collaborative group of beginners!


Twitter Archiving

I would like to have a session to discuss building a better workflow for Twitter archiving. What tools do we need, and what do we need to create in order to make this easier? Can we build something this weekend?

The MLA has released a github repository analyzing tweets from MLA12 — are there ways that we can fork this repository for more general use? Is there potential to use github as a shared platform for creating a larger corpus of twitter archives? Related to these tools, what kind of loose coordination do we need? A lot of Twitter archiving already takes place and is decentralized, so what is a lightweight way to integrate some of these efforts?

Ironically this post is online

But I am nevertheless using it to give you wi-fi logon instructions:

Network: Mason (not MASON-SECURE)

Open a browser and click Guest Access on the page that loads. Enter the username and password on the back of your badge. Make sure to keep the page open.

Other notes: the stickers we gave you are for voting on Saturday morning, so keep them around. For those of you who know what Dork Shorts are (I haven’t gotten around to explaining them yet, but they’re 2-minute lightning talks), we’re going to do them in the scheduling session on Saturday morning while the schedule gets made.

Desiderata for Digital Scholarly Publications/Digital University Presses and Imprints

Following up on the proposal by William Deal and perhaps combinable with it. Stockton is considering setting up its own digital press/imprint.  I’m interested in brainstorming/hacking a set of features/services that scholars producing digital materials not directly connected to their home institutions ought to expect from the publishers of their digital work. In traditional print publications, scholars were rarely expected to have input on the production side, but born digital projects often must specify the form that the final project will take as part of the development process. If production/coding/design expertise must be built into the project team from the outset, does that imply that the publishing site must also be agreed upon before the work is started? Or is the role of digital publisher merely editing/peer review/quality control? Or even further, are we reaching a point where the coding/design of sites is becoming sufficiently standardized that a form of “production handoff” similar to print is coming soon? (Unlikely, I think) As part of this session, I would propose generating a census of effective digital scholarly publications with information on the “publishers” and when and how they became involved in the project. My suspicion is that they are overwhelming published at digital centers by people directly associated with those centers. If that is the case, will the expansion of digital publications come from an increase in the number of digital centers, an increase in the affiliation of outside scholars with current digital centers, or some other institutions assuming the role that digital centers currently handle?

Death To Footnotes!

What are the bars to comprehension of text?  Which can be surmounted?  Different question– which ought to be surmounted?

My partners and I have created an iPad app-based platform that we think gives readers a window in to daunting literary texts, presenting various supplements to their reading in a staged and staggered fashion that allows the reader to overcome personal bars to comprehension at their discretion, without the insistent and invasive attack on the text mounted by footnotes.  We create high quality graphic adaptations of the text (that is, we make comic books) layered with an easy to access reader’s guide that provides greater elucidation of the text in a conversational style that sounds like the smartest guy/gal in the bar.  The reader’s guide text is further hyperlinked out to various web resources for obtaining more information, at the reader’s discretion.  Layered beneath the reader’s guide is a discussion area where reader’s can ask specific questions, advance theories, and, of course, argue.

We have started with adaptations of three difficult literary works– James Joyce’s Ulysses, T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and a mash up of the Iliad, combining Homer with Shakespeare and various pieces of archeological scholarship.  The platform was used in a classroom environment for the first time last month, but we have received a number of comments from users that makes us think our little experiment might be working.

I’d like to discuss ways that visuals and self-directed learning resources can be used as an aid to comprehension, and where the line gets crossed in which the resource replaces the thing it was supposed to be supplementing.