Though it may or may not technically be mid-semester where you are, here in the Valley we’ve just sailed through Fall Break, have had mid-semester reports requested, stared down a few stacks of papers, and the leaves are still pondering a color change. We thought it might be try a new format, a few recent posts on technology, pedagogy, and the classroom from around the interwebs. If you have another favorite post or site from the past month or so, please do pass it along.
Mark Sample on reading Frankenstein aloud. A practical guide and reflection on how reading prose aloud might help enhance classroom discussion and analysis.
Barry Mills in Inside Higher Ed on “The Challenge of Technology.” His comments are very apropos of Roger Whitsun’s recent post here on teaching in a library and the information deluge we face as teachers and as students.
As many of you probably saw, Diane Hoeveler’s NASSR-l request for suggestions on a Romanticism and Religion graduate course initiated a bevy of responses, and she kindly compiled the suggestions in a Word doc, which I’ve re-posted here as well.
Bridge Draxler talks about Using Twitter to help with thesis statements over at HASTAC.
I’ve been thinking a bit about some of the large claims trickling out of this year’s MLA digital humanities panels–particularly one about how doing digital humanities means making something. Whether or not that definition holds (and whether or not making something demands a sophisticated knowledge of coding), I can’t help but think about how that applies to pedagogy. Deidre’s really thought-provoking post, “Poems to Remember (but how?)” led us to discuss how we might manifest and visualize the reading and note-taking experience. That is, reading is remaking a text with your mind, with a pen, and perhaps with a word processor or a wiki.
There are also some tools such as the NINES Collex where users can construct collections of materials from a patchwork or mash-up of various primary and secondary texts. Omeka’s exhibit builder can be used in this way as well, though users need to bring their own texts, images, and so forth into the site, rather than accessing the group of nineteenth-century databases already filtered into NINES. Last year, as some of you probably read, Amy Earhart wrote a post for ProfHacker about using the NINES Collex as a tool to teach her students researching skills. But I wonder, too, if surfing through the Collex and collecting materials might also provoke a type of hands-on “distant” reading?
Has anyone used NINES, had their students do so, or would have a go at it now? How are these tools useful for our students or ourselves as a form of data or resource collection, a different kind of reading, or something else altogether? What other tools might we use, or what other types of making might we do in the classroom?
At Romantic Circles, we’ve spent the past year thinking about how we might rework the Pedagogies site into something that is really dynamic and usable. Phrases like “Web 2.0″ “interactive classroom” or “digital literacy” get tossed around almost too frequently these days, but when discussing how best to reenvision Pedagogies, we found ourselves returning to the idea of the digital, interactive “Commons.” As some of you might know, this is the name of the e-journal portion of the Pedagogies site, and we do have some great volumes of essays on specific pedagogical issues in the works. But what about an online common: people moseying through with (virtual) book-filled satchels, their minds meandering between research ideas and recent class discussions, briefly stopping to talk shop about a particular author, topic, or situation, feeling connected and maybe re-energized to return to all the work tasks a week encompasses.
Teaching Romanticism (“TR”) was designed with the hopes that many of the brief discussions had on NASSR-l or at conference dinner tables would be granted a larger space and thoughtful audience through which to percolate. Often discussion of teaching methods, materials, or problems become opaque, abstract, or seem less pressing than other things on our plate, and so we temporarily put them at the bottom of our To Do list. As a still-newbie Professor at a liberal arts college (Mount Holyoke) with an intense student population (en masse all-night study session/sleepovers in the library–be there or be square!), I admittedly have a certain obligation to my teaching. Yet what happens when, even momentarily, we envision our praxis, our ideas, and our literary theories through the lens of pedagogy? Does pedagogy need to have a greater or different role in our thinking, and if so how?
Under the guidance of Deidre Lynch, we have assembled a handful of scholars with a variety of interests, prerogatives, and experience. We hope you’ll all pop-in occasionally with a comment or question. Or just lurk through some of the discussions. With the help of our bloggers, maybe making it through the semester will become a little easier if not virtually enjoyable.