Educators Blogging

Should educators blog? It’s a question that is going the rounds. I was wondering why it doesn’t ask if business folks should blog, but I expect that is going the rounds in an arena from which I am generally absent. I’ve seen people get in trouble for blogging. For example, Right on the Left Coast had to deal with a parent not liking a link’s link. An SMU adjunct was not re-hired, perhaps because of her blog. (If that link doesn’t work, you can go here, which is where I first heard of the story.) But should you blog?

Another article in Inside Higher Ed says it might hurt your chances for tenure. But the article doesn’t seem quite sure. Of course, no one has done an experiment on this, so there’s not a clear cut answer. When IHE asked, the bloggers denied tenure said they didn’t know if their blogs were a problem.

Asked if their blogs hurt their tenure bids, Carroll and Drezner answer in nearly identical ways: They are certain that their tenure chances weren’t improved by having a blog, and while their chances might have been hurt, they don’t have any certainty about that. Drezner said it would be “very dangerous to make the assumption” that he was denied tenure because of the blog.

It is true, that many people assume that you are wasting time blogging. My husband thinks that. But I read and write very quickly. I spend much less time on this blog than it would appear.

But I wonder if I should continue blogging if I am trying to move into a tenure track position.

Update: Sort of. Previous posts on the topic of job security and blogging:
Blogs get you fired
Anonymity

Students, Teachers, and Computers

“Students of almost every age are far ahead of their teachers in computer literacy,” said Mortimer B. Zuckerman in the October 10, 2005 editorial “Classroom Revolution.”

I think that’s an overstatement. Of course, I could be the exception.

My sons are much better than I am in computer literacy, or so I think. We all three use our computers for hours. They post to message boards. I blog. But it may be that they know as much as I do and that seems like more because they’re 13 and 14.

But last year in my college classroom I didn’t have a single student who knew what a blog was. And I’d been blogging for a year and a half at that point. So I don’t think that’s “far ahead.” This year I had eight students out of fifty who knew what a blog was. So I’m still ahead. They could have blogs; I don’t know.

But how to integrate the computer into the classroom? That’s the real point of the editorial.

I think it would be easier to do if I were assured of having daily classroom access to computers over more than a single semester. I have only taught one class in which we had daily access. The first time through you don’t use anything well. Not even a textbook. Or at least I don’t. But I’ve never been able to develop that, because I’ve never had more than one opportunity.

I use the computer in homeschooling.

I send the boys their syllabi. They send me the answers to their questions. I have E look up SAT vocab online and use it as his vocab lessons. E and M both use the internet for history timelines and research projects. I am slowly using more computer. M does his essay writing for his blog. He is allowed to pick the topic but must write a certain number of paragraphs. E uses his for research. He’s having to write his first research paper for me over chemistry; he’ll get credit in science as well.

But if I didn’t know computers, I wouldn’t be able to work with them on computers. So I do think it’s a big help. But perhaps more teachers are literate than Zuckerman thinks.

Email

Just in case I ever need this, since blogging seems to be at issue in academia.

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Print to Electronic: A Problem?

There have been times when reading was regarded with suspicion. Some among the ancient Greeks regarded the rise of reading as cultural decline: they considered oral dialogue, which involves clarifying questions, more hospitable to truth. But the transition from an oral to a print culture has generally been a transition from a tribal society to a society of self-consciously separated individuals. In Europe that transition alarmed ruling elites, who thought the “crisis of literacy” was that there was too much literacy: readers had, inconveniently, minds of their own. Reading is inherently private, hence the reader is beyond state supervision or crowd psychology.

Which suggests why there are perils in the transition from a print to an electronic culture. Time was, books were the primary means of knowing things. Now most people learn most things visually, from the graphic presentation of immediately, effortlessly accessible pictures.

This is an interesting assertion, but I don’t see where the proof is. Why is there a peril in switching from print to the electronic culture simply because the elite thought reading let you know too much?

The fact is that online education is fast and often self-correcting. Minute by minute updates of information are often available.

It is true that the quality of online information varies considerably, but doing a little research will isolate the useless from the useful.

I do not see where the change from print to electronic is necessarily bad. IF all the print is available as electronic.

And with millions of Harry Potter being sold on the day of release, you can’t say books are dead.

Original quote from George Will, 2004.

Pre-reading for the novel

For research, the computers in my classroom were great. And I can see how a class on a novel would be interesting. “Search the net and find four articles that would be interesting/useful for someone who wanted to learn more about the background of this novel.”

Actually, now that I wrote that, I am thinking that might be a good pre-reading suggestion. We’re doing Frankenstein in Freshman 2. What if I gave that as a pre-reading assignment? That might really work.

Surfing in the Classroom

Ticklish Ears has a discussion up about surfing the web during class. He and Professor Flanders both were thrilled by that.

I’ve only had one classroom in a computer room full time. It was a remedial writing course. And my students surfed the web a lot. Normally for games they could play, rather than listening to the discussion about the grammar they were going to have to work with. Then they would ask questions, when they got to the work. It wasn’t because I didn’t explain or give examples. It was because they were playing games.

Now for research, the computers were great. And I can see how a class on a novel would be interesting. “Search the net and find four articles that would be interesting/useful for someone who wanted to learn more about the background of this novel.”

Actually, now that I wrote that, I am thinking that might be a good pre-reading suggestion. We’re doing Frankenstein in Freshman 2. What if I gave that as a pre-reading assignment? That might really work.

Citing the Web

Since I teach college English, I often have students who have to cite things they've found on the web.

Today we were talking at home about the fact that a fourth grade son of a friend had to cite works he used in a paper and didn't know how to cite the web.

(There's a story in how when you talk about something it turns up. I've tried writing it. Maybe after my novel's done I can redo it better.)

Then today I was looking at one of the blogs I read and he talked about citing on the web.

Anyway, MLA citation rules for the web are here. They don't, you will notice, tell you what to do when you don't know whose site it is. (Common problem for my students.)

So, now that I've put it on my blog, you'll be having people asking you about citing sources off the net.

(MLA is the proper format for essays and research papers. It's the English version of rules for writing papers. There are others: journalism, psychology, etc.)

NOTE: This is a different site. I couldn't get the other to open either.