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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Software teaches writing online for credit

Would pairing this up with applying mass mailing strategies to "personalize" large online classes = classroom of the future? Surely software is in the works to further automate personalization.
General education courses as students know them now are undergoing change. A team of UA instructors and software programmers is currently developing an online writing course that will soon be paired with general education classes across campus. The course will be introduced as a one-credit supplement to the typical three-credit general education class. It is intended to provide an interactive and self-paced online environment in which students' writing skills are diagnosed and improved.
UA adds online writing credit to gen-ed system - News

Administration and accounting no doubt view the potential for cost effectiveness of reducing overhead, eliminating labor problems (teach those pesky adjuncts expecting equity or at least a living wage a lesson) and automating class/ course administration as 100% win-win.

Friday, June 26, 2009

personalizing the impersonal

How do you "personalize" a 150 student online course - and make it real?

According to marketing prof Roger Barry in his article, "Meeting the Challenges of Teaching Large Online Classes" in the March issue of JOLT (Journal of Online Teaching), personalizing a course is key to teaching large online classes. Reading on, I realize that to Barry, a marketing prof, "personal" does not mean the same as it does to me. What he really means is marketing personalization as a simulacrum of the real and personal. What a jolt...
In an effort to personalize a large online class, the author applies a marketing approach called direct mass marketing to communicate with students. Direct mass marketing is an approach used by marketers to send a message that is perceived as being personalized to a large market segment. So, how and why is this approach effective in an online course? Certainly the best approach to personalizing an e-mail is to send it directly to an individual. But, how can you accomplish this in a large class section with 150 students? To accomplish this, the author uses an approach he refers to as direct mass e-mailing.
Teaching meets marketing. The personal is no longer real but all about perception.

It's also about language and writing - just not about students learning how to write. Both "Study Buddy Notes" (class notes rewritten for cozy casual "I'm right here with you" effect) and direct mass mailing depend on the knowledge-marketer/teacher's wording and tone in both study notes and mass emailings.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The future of college writing

What is the future of writing and the teaching of writing? Not good. It's labor intensive, time consuming and undervalued in the marketplace. Already sweatshopped to the max composition adjuncts are at their limits. No one is going to give them more money and smaller classes in these trying economic times. More likely, class sizes and administrative paper work will increase. Where will the cuts come?

Requiring Revision http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2009/06/25/deans

I keep finding and reading articles like these – and then comparing them to writing and attitudes toward it outside the academy. Is it research or masochism, obsession or idle curiosity? Blog fodder?

My reading: revision is on the way out, less for pedagogical than administrative reasons - too labor intensive unless admin can get it done on the cheap. Raised class caps in composition will put numbers too high to afford time for revision – even by academic sweatshop labor. The revision process no longer takes place in a meaningful way, shortened and corner cut to meaningless. Writing standards in the courses 1st year composition is supposed to prepare students for are already next to non-existent in most institutions.

Even graduate students, especially in more "commercial", less academic disciplines, write badly and are revision resistant for all that. Convinced they have already learned everything they need to know about writing in English 101, with perhaps a “business writing” (oxymoron alert) course thrown in for good measure. These students are neither stupid nor inarticulate – just never truly expected to write well or exposed to intellectual rigor. Perhaps gullible as well - first buying into self-esteem and then higher education seat-filling sales pitches.

Business and the relevance of Liberal Arts http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2009/05/07/ho

In no way does this give a free pass to atrociously unreadable academic writing - jargon on steroids. That's another case for another time.

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