“Clearly you need to restrict the dimensions to things that more or less have a right answer or several right answers.”
So says Daphne Koller on the challenges of adapting MOOC technology to teach humanities courses. (Many thanks to Jonathan Rees of More or Less Bunk for alerting me to this story. While you’re there, don’t miss his post on “This is How MOOCs End.”)
What Koller really means is that we need not adapt MOOCs to the humanities. We need to adapt the humanities to the limits and demands of MOOCworld, which operates on the assumption that everything we need to know about student progress and achievement can be effectively measured by essay-grading software and multiple-choice quizzes and exams. Who knew that some people read Charles Dickens’s Hard Times not as a critique of the industrial era and the notion that everything (including education) can be automated, but rather see it as a blueprint for modern educational instruction? Continue reading
Anachronistic image of Chaucer from the 17th century
Go read Dr. Cleveland on the uses of academic blogging, and how in many respects it is like Geoffrey Chaucer’s poetry (only with more profanity, lulz, and kitty-cat videos. Warning: he says some nice things about this blog, so file this one under “blogrolling in our time!” Next thing you know, we’ll be blurbing each other’s books!)
You can’t blog your way to a tenure-track professorship.You simply can’t. Even a gig at IHE or The Chronicle for Higher Education is not enough. That doesn’t mean blogging is not professionally useful to you. It means you need to be clear about what it’s useful for.
Blogging and other social media serve academics by bringing you to other people’s attention and building your professional network. It works largely as publicity for your other work, and it widens your potential audience while strengthening your connections. Continue reading
For a comment on a paper that I’m giving this afternoon, I needed to check a quotation from The Journal of John Winthrop, 1630-1649 (1996), edited by Richard Dunn, James Savage, and Laetitia Yeandle, the most recent and authoritative edition of Winthrop’s journals. I should have done this at home, as I own this 799 page doorstop of a book, but luckily I found that the relevant passage was available via Google books. Yay! Mission accomplished. Thanks, internets!
But wait: there are two online reviews of Winthrop’s journal, which I thought was pretty interesting as he’s been dead since 1649. “Imi” wrote, “Thank God we only have to read a small part of it for a lecture, because even those couple of pages were really boring. Continue reading
You’ve heard of The Endless Summer? It sure seems to me like this is the Endless Semester. Maybe it’s all of the snow and slush in April, but more than any other spring semester in recent memory, this one drags on and on. While I’m desperately trying to lasso this semester and tie it up real good, here are some fun links and ideas to keep you diverted:
First Sealord of the Admiralty probably gets my vote, but Supreme Allied Commander is pretty boss, too. (What does it say about me that I gravitate towards these European-oriented military offices and titles? Hmm.) Maybe I should just keep it simple and ask that people call me Citoyenne Historianne. (At least that’s a democratic civilian title, albeit rather European-sounding.)
What’s your pick for Best Title Ever?
Attending a big conference like the Organization of American Historians is fun, especially when it’s in an pleasant place like San Francisco in the spring in mid-April. What I do is so marginal to the OAH conference that I’ve got lots of free time to attend panels and hear how experts in other subfields talk about their work, explore the city with old friends, and go to parties! Here are some observations and lessons learned, in no particular order:
- No matter how big the conference, you will never see some people, and you will continue to run into the same people again and again. Aside from the few early American feminists I kept running into at some of the same panels, over the course of three days every time I strolled through the hotel lobby or some of the other open spaces I saw either Roy Ritchie or Alice Kessler-Harris. I also never saw a colleague of mine who was there the whole time–not even at a distance.
- “Early America” now goes through most of the antebellum period, at least according to the OAH. Stop fighting it, Historiann and others who specialize in anything before the nineteenth century! I think I witnessed the single paper that included anything on the seventeenth century. These are now like the Dodo–and not even in much greater evidence at conferences like the Omohundro Institute annual conference. (Speaking of which: did you hear that they cancelled their party scheduled for Friday night when they learned that they had booked it in a club that doesn’t offer membership to women? Good for them, but that’s quite a huge loss on the party, in addition to what’s surely a major donor problem now.)
- (Aside on the temporal issue: I keep hearing that The Sixteenth Century Society is a fun group, and their understanding of the long sixteenth century is pretty long, from 1450 to 1660. Your thoughts? I was becoming kind of a semi-regular at the Western Society for French History and French Historical Studies, so I’m all for going European if that’s what it will take.)
- My source inside the Journal of American History editorial board meeting said Continue reading
A savage handbagging!
It’s a big day for women’s history today as we note the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Here’s a roundup up some of the things I’ve seen on the non-peer reviewed interwebs:
- Echidne weighs in on Mags: “Thatcher was not a feminist, of course. She is famous for openly disliking feminism, partly because she was blind to what feminism had given her: The right to run for office, the right to vote. She believed that her successes were based on nothing but her own talents and her own hard work. Women’s concerns she brushed off like so much dandruff on the shoulders of her black suit. . . . So what is Thatcher’s legacy for women? I would imagine that she would be angry at such a question. Those women, always pestering her when she was nothing like them! She was one of the boys, or at least a Smurfette among Smurfs.“
- Note: when Echidne calls Mags a “Smurfette among Smurfs,” she’s not suggesting that her legacy is tiny or mockable. She’s pointing out that there is only *one* Smurfette among a whole colony of Smurfs, and that Smurfettes therefore tend to spend a lot more time and energy defending their position in the boys’ club rather than opening the door to and making room for more Smurfettes. Just so that we’re clear on that point. Continue reading