Clancy's blog

Academic Commons

Via Infocult, the kickoff of Academic Commons, which, as a combination discussion forum/quarterly journal, looks to be a very valuable resource. From the first edition page:

Academic Commons ( offers a forum for investigating and defining the role that technology can play in liberal arts education. Sponsored by the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College (, Academic Commons publishes essays, reviews, interviews, showcases of innovative uses of technology, and vignettes that critically examine technology uses in the classroom. Academic Commons aims to share knowledge, develop collaborations, and evaluate and disseminate digital tools and innovative practices for teaching and learning with technology. We want this site to advance opportunities for collaborative design, open development, and rigorous peer critique of such resources.

Academic Commons also provides a forum for academic technology projects and groups (the Developer's Kit) and a link to a new learning object referatory (LoLa). Our library archives all materials we have published and also provides links to allied organizations, mailing lists, blogs, and journals through a Professional Development Center.

The first issue of the quarterly looks very interesting. The pieces that pique my interest the most are these:

Technology & the Pseudo-Intimacy of the Classroom: an interview with University of Illinois-Chicago's Jerry Graff

Graff's interest in "teaching the conflicts" as a way of rescuing higher education from itself has recently been replaced by a profound worry that higher ed is becoming increasingly irrelevant to American culture. We checked in to see what role Graff thinks technology might play in these unsettling times.

Copyright 101 by Richard Lanham, UCLA

The pervasiveness of digital media has so altered the nature of authorship and ownership that questions of intellectual property have become matters of core concern for our students and our contemporary culture. Lanham argues that these issues require an academic response, and that a basic course in copyright -- "Copyright 101" -- represents a first step in this process.

Cross-posted to Kairosnews and CCCC-IP.

Should Las Vegas high school students read Plainsong?

In early March of this year, Gerald McGee, a high school English teacher at Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas, assigned Kent Haruf's Plainsong to his students, and then look what happened:

Seniors at Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas, Nevada must have been confused when their English teacher took away books they were still reading: Kent Haruf's acclaimed novel, Plainsong. At issue was a brief sexual passage. Without submitting challenges to the novel to a review committee, the assistant principal ordered teacher Gerald McGee to "collect all the books, box them up and put them away immediately."

I'll admit, I haven't read this book (but I'm recalling it from my library), but Gerald is one of my best friends, and I trust his judgment when it comes to selecting books. High school students are not children, and the public high school English classroom should be a space where students discuss intelligently works of literature with sophisticated themes and moral complexity, such as they probably see played out in their own lives and surroundings anyway. A passage in a book isn't going to cause students' moral fortresses to crumble. But I guess the point is to repel "bad thoughts." Sigh. It's folly to pretend these students are sheepish, or to want them to be.

More at a thread in the Sierra Nevada High School MySpace group.

Also, Gerald writes:

1. Please view the post at the link below that is titled SIERRA VISTA MAKES THE NEWS IN NEW YORK CITY:

2. Share your thoughts on censorship with my students.

3. American rights are eroding because we are not adequately educating our children.

Thanks for helping,

Gerald McGee, M.Ed.

PS You may have to sign up with this website to get a message to my students. The whole process should take less than five minutes, but I can't think of a better way to spend five minutes.

2 Unlimited

As I suffered through my Stairmaster workout yesterday (I hate exercise, and I'm done with pretending I don't), I was listening to my Club Mix: The 90's CD, and "Get Ready for This" by 2 Unlimited came on. You've all heard it, if not in actual clubs in the 90s, you've at least heard its stimulating keyboard hook at any given sporting event. That song is an aural testosterone/adrenaline cocktail.

I wish a good music journalist would write a complete cultural history of that song. If I recall correctly -- and I could very well be off here -- it got a lot of play at gay bars before it became more of a mainstream club hit. It would be interesting to interview the members of 2 Unlimited, find out how they came together, what they're doing now, how much money they've made and continue to make from that one song, etc. This could also be done in a VH-1 Behind the Music-type format, but with a focus on the circulation and appropriation of the song, not just the artist. What other songs could have their own episodes?

Tickler File

I'm one of those Getting Things Done-heads, but until a week ago I hadn't made a tickler file. I already use it all the time:

A tickler file is a place for items you need to keep track of but don't need right at the moment, but which you know you'll need a few days or a week from now. You need 43 folders to create a tickler file, 31 for the days of the month, and 12 for the months of the year. Each day you look in that day's folder, empty it out, decide what to do with the items in the folder, and then move that day's folder to the back. Commonly suggested items for the tickler file include concert or plane tickets, reminder notes, etc. I put that stuff in there, plus bills I want to mail but not until I get paid, articles I want to read, scribbled notes I want to type up, etc. It's great. Usually people use manila folders, but I made mine out of old 2-pocket folders around my apartment and some from the office that were going to be thrown away. I made the tabs out of index cards. The file case I'm keeping the tickler file in was going to be thrown away too.

Also, some life hacks* I've found useful:

Media-related distraction? Hit the panic button! When I get the sneaking suspicion that I’m wasting valuable time on the internet, I hit the monitor’s power switch and wait until I get my focus back. This also works for TV, and even the phone.

[. . .]

Address Labels that charities send you are great for labelling things you tend to lose. Someone once returned an umbrella to my house. At work people return my pens and my stapler and tape dispenser stay on my desk

Finally, the Not Insane To-Do List, via (where else?) 43 folders.

* When I first heard the term "life hacks" several months ago, I thought, well great, there's finally an expression for what my mom has been doing avidly for decades. Next time I go home maybe I'll photograph some of her genius hacks.

Next Rhetoric Carnival?

What shall we do for the next Rhetoric Carnival? I thought the last one, on Richard Fulkerson's "Composition at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century,"* went pretty well, so I hope others will want to stick with articles for this thing. From that same issue of CCC, there's an article by Kelly Ritter, "The Economics of Authorship: Online Paper Mills, Student Writers, and First-Year Composition," to which I think at least six or seven smart fabulous folks would bring insights. What do you all think? Or do you have another article to suggest?

* From the June 2005 (56.4) issue of College Composition and Communication.

Excited about local art

I'm accompanying a couple of folks tomorrow to go see LICK! and then to see Heather Corrina's latest show. I have a lot of respect for Corrina's activist work, especially what she's done on Scarleteen, and listen to this description of LICK!

A show that's half play, half dance, and half's a plancedy...and it follows five young men, self-proclaimed as "the sexiest dance company the world has ever known" as they come to the 2005 Minnesota Fringe Festival with one goal: to blow your mind. Join Ben, Brian, Bobby, Todd, and Kelly as they inject art into your soul with their great big syringe of sexiness.

By the way, locals: If you didn't catch Blogologue when it played at Bryant-Lake Bowl, you should definitely see it. The performers do dramatic interpretations of all kinds of interweb content, including inane pop-up ads, teen LiveJournals, choleric pundits, and the dullest blog in the world.

New Double Issue of JCMC

There's a new double issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication on "Online Communities" and "Computer-Mediated Collaborative Practices." Give it a read if you're interested in one or more of those topics. In the latter theme, there's an article on the use of IM in collaboration. I had hoped to see a case study of wiki use as well, but maybe no one submitted one. At least Wikipedia gets a mention in the introduction to the "Online Communities" theme.

Now THIS is a web-writing-related firing I can get behind.

Why didn't I hear about Michael Gee until now? In case you hadn't heard, here's the story (more here). Gee had been hired to teach an introductory journalism course at Boston University. Soon after the semester started, he posted about the class on, a discussion board. His post included the following:

Today was my first day teaching course 308/722 at the Boston University Dept. of Jounralis (sic). There are six students, most of whom are probably smarter than me, but they DON'T READ THE PAPER!!! Not the Globe, Times, Herald or Wall Street Journal. I can shame them into reading, I guess, but why are they taking the course if they don't like to read

But I digress. Now here's the nub of my issue. Of my six students, one (the smartest, wouldn't you know it?) is incredibly hot. If you've ever been to Israel, she's got the sloe eyes and bitchin' bod of the true Sabra. It was all I could do to remember the other five students. I sense danger, Will Robinson.

Are you shocked yet? BU swiftly fired him after hearing about the posting for his betrayal of the trust in the student-teacher relationship. Via Christine again, there's a response from the student, who says Gee "crossed the student/teacher line in a way that no student should ever have to deal with." And by the way, she dropped the class. Normally I'm against the idea that someone should be fired for what he/she writes in an online space not associated with his/her job, but this case makes me angry. It shows an egregious violation of this student's privacy and a striking disrespect for her as a student (I don't care if he did say she was smart). I realize some might say that it's just a few gray shades' difference between this and the kind of writing about students that pseudonymous bloggers like The Phantom Professor do, but I think the former is worse, I guess because Phantom blogs about incidents involving students that are a matter of public record (in the student newspaper) and doesn't name the specific class a student is in. Plus, I have found Phantom's portrayals of students to be sympathetic, impugning the society that produced any negative qualities her students might have possessed rather than the students themselves.

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