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Millennials Shy Away from Voice Mail

I was happy a few years ago when Seton Hill got a new phone and email system that allowed me to get my voicemails directly via email, but I do so little work over the telephone that the feature is really not that useful. Having grown up in a texting-friendly culture, with unmediated cellphone access to their friends, they have had little formative experience leaving spoken or relayed messages over…

The army of mechanical men no longer obeys my saxophone-issued orders! What will become of the noble workers!?
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Awesome 1935 Soviet Movie Deploys Saxophone-Controlled Robots to Crush Tophat- and Bowler-Wearing Capitalists

I wish I understood Russian, so that I could make sense of this 1935 Russian film featuring a mechanical man remote-controlled via saxophone. Apparently the capitalists take control of the invention and turn it on the workers, at least temporarily. The climax features the workers gaining control of the machines and using them to fight together against the evil capitalists. The story is obviously inspired by Rossum’s Universal Robots, the…

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The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom

Maybe the students in this photo are diligently peer-reviewing each other’s work. I know full well students are not always attentive during my classes, but a study that explores whether laptops help students perform better on pop quizzes makes the interesting assumption that we measure learning by comparing scores on pop quizzes. (Or that students actually take notes, which is another issue altogether.) I teach very few courses where I…

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How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution

While I appreciate the efficiency of uniform standards, I am concerned because it becomes even more efficient to teach to the test, which means more students will arrive in my college classes expecting to be told exactly what to do. I want them to take risks which means I have to convince them that I will reward them, not take off points, for making and fixing mistakes — which can…

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Criminal Code: Procedural Logic and Rhetorical Excess in Videogames

Great example of the application of well-established humanities critical processes to the analysis of a technological artifact. Of all the possible options in the real world — increasing funding for education, reducing overcrowded housing, building mixed use developments, creating employment opportunities, and so on — it’s the presence of the police that lowers crime in SimCity. This is the argument that game makes, its procedural rhetoric. Naïve though it may…

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Digital Storytelling: Empower the Multimodal Writing Classroom with Scratch

How can the busy writing teacher interested in new media storytelling deepen the pedagogical value of multimodality in the classroom — especially for students with limited programming experience? Students who learn to design, code, revise, and publish multimodal texts are empowered by their encounters with technology, and can be more critical of the interfaces they face in daily life. Yet too frequently we ask students to submit a multimedia project…

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DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER)

Live in the DC area? June 19 I’ll be speaking about the play Rossum’s Universal Robots for a panel on “robots and theater,” sponsored by Cultural Programs of National Academy of Sciences. (The event will also be webcast.) D.C. Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER) is a monthly discussion forum on art science projects providing a snapshot of the cultural environment of the region and fostering interdisciplinary networking. This month, DASER explores…

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It’s alive! What NPR learned from turning its @nprnews Twitter account from a bot into a human

My student journalists tell me they learn a lot from assignments that involve livetweeting events. It’s encouraging when students ramp up the social media work on their own, outside of classroom assignments, as part of their work for The Setonian Online. This article offers a helpful reminder that even the pros have to experiment in order to discover current best practices (which change rapidly, with the technology). But no matter…

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We are in a golden age for journalism

Most handwringing about the state of journalism is done by journalists. They are worried about losing their jobs, so it’s not surprising that they tend to be fretful. But turn the issue upside down for a second, and think about the state of journalism from journalism’s audience. The real purpose of journalism, after all, is not to provide me a job, but to inform and entertain the public. And by…