Syllabus for parody course too true

One of the great things about parody, of course, is that it is all at once funny and not-funny-because-it’s-too-true. Robert Lanham has produced a syllabus for a course called Internet-Age Writing, and it makes me laugh and cry, just like those people I heard about in a student’s speech who named their dog “Fungus.” What worries me is the number of people who will not get the cultural references on either side of this thing. Note: if you skim it instead of read it, you are already Too Far Gone.

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Separating evidence and interpretation

This is for both speech and journalism students. People sometimes have trouble separating evidence from the conclusions drawn from that evidence. Here’s a great example. Recently a study in Wisconsin, which has had a school voucher program in place for a while, found “parity” between representative samples of both public school and voucher-funded private school students. (That means they performed about the same grade-wise.) I don’t know how long the link will remain live, but right now you can read a newspaper story at the Journal-Sentinel.

Even though the researchers have repeatedly warned of the dangers of basing too much on the results of one study, media and politicians seem to have jumped on the results, with all claiming it supports whatever their position is.

Opponents of school vouchers are saying, in essence, “See! See! Private schools aren’t doing it any better. So we can finally just drop all this voucher nonsense and keep doing things the way we were.”

Proponents of school vouchers are saying, in essence, “Let me get this straight. The private schools are achieving the same results as public schools while costing a third less, a savings of several thousand dollars per student. How is it again that this proves vouchers are a bad idea? I don’t get it.”

This alone should help students understand why persuasion must go well beyond simply piling up facts.

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It’s not just getting rid of the textbooks….

….it’s about what you’re going to do instead. Mike Elgan has some solid ideas about getting rid of textbooks altogether, and what to do instead. I have trouble finding anything I don’t like about this post. It’s why we chose the current textbook we’re using in speech, which is really a practical handbook. I love the idea of requiring a contribution to Wikipedia. One class I’m teaching this semester is going to build a tag cloud in del.icio.us. He even mentions Hayek! What’s not to love?

(Thanks to Mary Nunaley for the link to this in Facebook.)

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NPR features SL educator

NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday featured Michael Demers, a geography professor at New Mexico State University, talking about how he uses Second Life to help his students learn more effectively. You can listen to the segment online.

Of course, so far I haven’t been able to get it to play myself. [sigh] Your luck may be better.

Update: I managed to get it to play. Worth listening to!

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PSTCC faculty to conduct SL workshop

One of our own will be conducting a workshop for faculty across all of Second Life interested in using SL for teaching. This notice went out yesterday from the Community Colleges in SL group to all its members:

Group Notice From: Pipsqueak Fiddlesticks

Hi Everyone,
We are canceling this Wedneday’s meeting in favor of a teachshop on Monday 12/8/08 by Travis Willsmere of Pellissippi State Community College. Travis has wide experience in-world and will be sharing some of his knowledge with us. Landmark will be sent soon so watch for it. 🙂 I hope you all are well and surviving finals! Pip

I will post a link to the site, along with the exact time, when it becomes available.

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Community college resource in SL

You know, I can find more in the first five minutes I’m awake every day that needs doing than I have time to get done all day.

Without going into all the links involved in finding this (thanks, Greg, for getting me started!), I want to share with you a great resource especially for the community college faculty who read this blog. If you have Second Life installed on the machine you’re sitting at, you should be able to go to the CCSL presence by following this link:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Eduisland%203/81/151/25

You need to also find the group and join it for free.

They have a lot of resources for teaching in SL, and as nearly as I can tell, they are somehow connected with the EduIsland folks who can provide space for teachers who want to use SL, but whose institutions do not yet have Island or other space for them. I am way behind on how this works, but I will post more information when I get it.

In the meantime, you probably also want to check out their Web site, a Wiki with tons of useful information.

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Facebook group started

Jumping right onto the vibe that existed right after the SL Workshop at IPC, we have started a Facebook group for Tennessee educators interested in using Second Life. I have linked to it from the “Links” list in the navigation bar, and you can also get to it from this post.

Update: the link in the navbar and in this post has been updated.

If you haven’t joined Facebook yet–it’s easy, and it seems to be a better way to keep all of us in touch without adding to the glut of email. Yes, if you set your settings that way, you still get an email notification. The thing is, later when you try to find that email buried among the ads for Viagra and Swiss watches, you won’t be able to, whereas you can always find Tennessee SL info in Facebook, and can even add a feed to your RSS reader.

Plus, it’s a good place to be able to link back to this blog, and to the others that have already sprung up around SL and education.

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Best place for educators to get SL accounts

I just came back from helping do a workshop on Second Life for educators, and of course today I would find a good resource. If you don’t already have an account in SL, or you’re getting another one, rather than use the orange button on the main SL site I recommend you use the Educator Programs page on the SecondLifeGrid.net site instead. The reasons are twofold:

  1. Instead of getting dumped on the wide-open, griefer-strewn Orientation Island, you will go to the orientation island for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), complete with docents, tools, and tutorials to help you get started as an educator in SL.
  2. You will find at this Web page a very clear and useful listing of resources for educators, as well as a succinct explanation for how SL can help educators.

Even if you already have your account (as do all of the people who took part in yesterday’s workshop), it’s worthwhile going to this page.

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Update on yesterday’s committee vote

Yesterday I told you about a Tennessee legislative committee that could affect thousands of people across the state regarding whether their high school diplomas would be considered “valid.” (More here and here.)

Short version update: the needed amendment passed; the Dept. of Education’s ill-advised version did not come up.

Long version update: read Rob Shearer’s summary of what went on.

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