Archive for the ‘List’ Category

I’m coming towards the end of my first year in a PhD program. That’s almost entirely accurate. I’ve been in another program that would have eventually resulted in a PhD in philosophy, but since I left with a Master’s degree, it doesn’t count. But now I’m 15 hours into a PhD in rhetoric and scientific and technical communication, with just two papers to write for the remainder of the semester, and then I have a summer to recover/get ahead on my exam readings.

So thinking about that, I figured it would be helpful to go back through the year and think about what I’ve learned. Maybe it’ll be helpful for those not yet in a PhD program, maybe it’ll just be helpful for me a few years down the line when I look back to how naive I was. (more…)

Advertisements

Okay. Let’s talk course goals.

The way I figure it, the first step to designing a course is to figure out what the course is about. What it’s teaching. Once I know what I want to impart, what I want to talk about, I can start working up a reading list and group of assignments to ensure that the message gets across.

For the sake of ease, I’m going to try to come up with three main goals for each of my potential classes. Once again, those potential classes are:

  1. Rhetoric of Evil
  2. Rhetoric of Science Fiction
  3. Rules and Loopholes
  4. Future technology in the classroom

Starting from the top then: (more…)

I started doing discount peer response in my classes this semester. It’s my first time doing it all the way. In the past I’ve had it along with regular peer response, in a twisted sort of hybrid. But now I have students that never peer respond in class; they do all the work on their own.

My plan was to have them do one round of that, fix their draft, and then bring the draft to class. If DPR didn’t work for them, I’d have them peer respond in class as normal and then go back to the old way, tail between my legs, thinking that maybe DPR is just a good idea in theory.

Thankfully, that’s not what happened. My students told me that they got more out of this type of peer response than they’ve ever gotten out of doing it in class. They asked questions, we dealt with issues, and they’re trying again over the weekend. I still don’t know if DPR works, of course. I won’t even be able to suggest that it can until I see their papers. If they did DPR but got nothing out of it, their papers will show. But thinking back to how my students did it in the past, and how much good it did them, I’m pretty confident.

What’s particularly interesting is that six of my roughly forty students completely started over after getting comments on their draft. They picked a different topic and wrote the entire thing from scratch. They asked if this was okay. What excites me about this is that they were looking at peer response as PART of the process, not as the end. I told them that they absolutely could, and that it counted as a draft (since they need 3 for each paper). I did say that they needed to have at least one additional draft beyond whatever they settled on, but that’s just so that a student can’t write two papers and then download a third (or download three). I want them to be able to actually improve from one draft to another.

<digression>Which brings up an interesting point. When working with peer response, in some ways plagiarism isn’t much of an issue. Yes, if they plagiarize they won’t have written the paper, but they can still learn how to peer respond and learn the value of writing an additional draft. I’m not saying that plagiarism is okay (far from it), but I think it’s interesting to think about peer response draft to draft.</digression>

In other news, I’m trucking through Jakob Nielsen’s Designing Web Usability, and hope to have a review of it up in the next day or so. After that, I have a short reading list before I go ‘fishing’ for more sources. I’m planning to study iteration, and will probably end up asking one of the guys who works at the library to point me to some interesting places. My current reading list (after Nielsen) is as follows:

  • Hueretics: The logic of invention by Gregory L. Ulmer
  • Applied Grammatology also by Gregory L. Ulmer
  • Selected parts of Of Grammatology by Jacques Derrida

Like I said, short list.

The paper on discount peer response went, in my opinion, very well. I’m quite proud of it. There are issues that still need to be addressed, and there will be revisions that still need to be made, but for the most part, it’s pretty solid. In terms of my thesis, that word has come down that I can use that paper as the first 50% of it. So I need another 20 pager to round things out; one that focuses on theory and not on teaching. It’s a good point; I do need to examine other things. As much as I want to spend my life teaching, I know that part of the game is theory and publishing, and if I want to get the teaching gigs I want, I need to play the game. Besides, theory is fun. So I have the other 50% to get done.

(actually, doing the math, the first paper is 45%, the second is 45%, and a brief introduction tying the two together will comprise the other 10%)

So I need to figure out what I want to do for the second half. Which means heading back to my list of research interests. For the purpose of this brainstorm, I’m going to go down the list and see what I have immediately to say about each of the items that jump out at me.

(more…)

In order to figure out what to write this paper on, I had to consider the list that I made. But I had to consider other things as well.

I had to consider the outside constraints of the paper. It is meant to be a representation of my research, of my writing ability, in the hopes that it will impress several PhD programs enough that they will fall all over themselves in a desperate desire to recruit me into their program. But it is also a final paper assignment for a class. The class, Computers and Writing, focuses on many things. The biggest issues I have seen thus far, though, are Usability, its close partner Accessibility, Iterative Development, and technology’s involvement in the field of writing studies.

I also had to consider the inner constraints of the paper. In particular, how busy I am and how little time I actually have to work on this paper. As much as I would like to devote all my time to it, I just can’t. Classes, both those I take and those I teach, get in my way, as does a “misguided” desire to remain sane and happily married.

Given those constraints, then, what can I write about? It has to relate to one of the themes from class and it has to involve relatively little new research on my part (though I am reading “The Psychology of Everyday Things,” among other books).

(more…)

I said before that I wanted to make a list of everything that interests me. My hope in doing so was to be able to figure out what part of this interest I want to focus on for the paper I am currently working on. I’ll get to that in a moment. Now, the list, including what was and adding what must also be:

  • Development of Technology
  • Process of invention (both user centered and otherwise)
  • Predictive power of science fiction
  • Conflict between ‘popular’ fiction and ‘Literary’ fiction (as examined through usability)
  • Pedagogy
  • Peer responding/editing
  • Parallels (between programing/writing)
  • Parallels and links between Philosophy and English Studies
  • Iteration
  • Writing Studies
  • Writing History
  • Philosophy
  • Logic
  • User Centering
  • Ease
  • Accessibility
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • New Media
  • Usability
  • History of writing
  • Methods of writing
  • Audience

The list is likely to continue to grow. Realistically, it should always grow; I should constantly be advancing what I am interested in.

Right now, though, I need to focus. My original problem with the paper I was writing was, I think, that I wasn’t focused enough. I didn’t follow my own mental model. Let me digress to explain that. (more…)

Brief place holder

Posted: October 29, 2007 in AI, iteration, List, meta

I wrote the paper mentioned in the previous post, and decided that it is essentially <edit>worthless. not usable</edit>It’s not so much that the paper isn’t good, it’s that it’s too big. I bit off way more than I have time to chew.

So the next step is to take a walk. I’m heading out of the forest for a minute so that I can get a good look at it. I’m going to identify trees as I go, but I need to look at the big picture. Wow, that’s an awkward metaphor.

The next step for me is to make a list of everything. Everything I’m interested in, all the questions I want to someday investigate. This is the research equivalent of “what do I want to be when I grow up?” I can’t answer these questions yet. If I could, then I wouldn’t need to do the research (alternately, if I could, I would likely be wrong).

Someone, I don’t know who, once said “Of course I think I’m right. If I thought I was wrong I’d change my mind.” Not really relevant, but funny.

The list is not yet finished, if it ever will be. It’s still ruminating in my brain. I will attempt to make a semi-final form over the next few days. I say semi-final because something like this is never finished. A research list is like living a happy life. As Socrates said, we can’t tell that a man led a happy life until he is dead. (hence “count no man happy till he’s dead”).

Anyway, the list:

  • Iteration
  • Writing Studies
  • Writing History
  • Philosophy
  • Logic
  • User Centering
  • Ease
  • Accessibility
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • New Media
  • Usability
  • History of writing
  • Methods of writing
  • Audience

More will come. I guess I could say that there will be further iterations to come.