Student: “Just wanted to let you know that your class has benefited me outside of just literature studies and thank you.”

In my online class on literary dystopia, I am asking students to post one-minute podcasts to share with each other, so the class doesn’t feel so lonely. About half of the students chose to do audio recordings, and half chose videos. While this isn’t a media production course, I am still giving tips on eye contact, lighting, and vocal delivery. A student just sent me this note, which I’m reproducing with…

Why Student Athletes Continue to Fail

When student athletes were asked how much they care about athletics, they rated their interest a healthy 8.5 on average, on a scale of 1 to 10. But when asked the value they place on academics, the result was higher than 9 on average. If anything, the average student athlete cares more about his studies than his sport. #StudentBeforeAthlete indeed. So why do they underperform in their classes? One possible and intriguing…

When the Bough Breaks (TNG Rewatch: Season 1, Episode 16)

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. Advanced aliens from a mythical civilization kidnap children from the Enterprise to repopulate their dying world. The premise sounds pretty schlocky, and the script is full of familiar Trek cliches, such as the utopia with a dark secret, arrogant aliens who tsk-tsk at the very weaknesses that make humans special, and a society run by an all-powerful computer. Having said that, I enjoyed the…

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Wonderfully Detailed Tribute to 1970s British TV Show Space: 1999

“A middle aged geek” puts it well: “Utter nonsense, yes, but very well-made nonsense.” The incredibly detailed miniature effects and feature film production design of Moonbase Alpha make the original Star Trek’s balsa wood & cardboard sets look like a fifth grade play. While the story of ‘unknown magnetic radiation’ causing crewmen at the base to go mad is never really resolved (some genuinely sloppy writing), it doesn’t really matter; the stage…

In 2019, I have a college student who annotates readings like this!

I asked students in my online “Dystopia in American Literature” class to demonstrate “whylighting” — not just highlighting a passage, but adding a note explaining why it’s worth noticing. If this were an in-person classroom, I’d just walk around the room and glance over their shoulders to confirm that they’re dong the work. In this online class, I asked students to post screenshots and a brief reflection. Students who aren’t…

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Too Short a Season (TNG Rewatch: Season 1, Episode 15)

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. I was underwhelmed. The Enterprise delivers an elderly Admiral Jameson on a mission to negotiate with terrorists on a planet where he brokered a hostage release decades ago. The regular cast has very little to do because the story follows the visiting admiral, who ends up being rather unlikable. When we meet him, he’s obviously played by a much younger man in heavy make-up.…