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Can AI write good novels?

I expect that this is probably the year I’ll need to consider how my profession will change if students start relying on AI writing software. Like many people in my social media feed, this summer I’ve been playing a bit with AI image software, and thinking about how all the photographers and artists whose work is being sampled and remixed, without compensation or credit, to supply a commodity that serves someone else’s needs. “Julia was twenty-six years old… and she worked, as he had guessed, on the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department. She enjoyed her work, which consisted chiefly…

Internet Explorer cheated its way to the top, and I won’t miss it

I started teaching myself HTML in earnest after I attended a crowded presentation at the Modern Language Association in the early 90s. Midway through his demonstration of what a mouse was, the speaker asked a crowd of hundreds who had used a graphical web browser (everyone raised their hands), and who had used the Internet in their teaching and research (everyone raised their hands), and who had coded a web page (I saw just three hands… one of which was mine). The most important thing I took away from that presentation was that I could have been standing up there…

Why Study Humanities? What I Tell Engineering Freshmen

Science writer Jon Horgan writes: We live in a world increasingly dominated by science. And that’s fine. I became a science writer because I think science is the most exciting, dynamic, consequential part of human culture, and I wanted to be a part of that. Also, I have two college-age kids, and I’d be thrilled if they pursued careers in science, engineering or medicine. I certainly want them to learn as much science and math as they can, because those skills can help you get a great job. But it is precisely because science is so powerful that we need the humanities now…

Advice for alternate pathways in journalism: re-entering the workforce after taking a break; transitioning to college teaching

A colleague put me in touch with an award-winning TV journalist who took some time off for eldercare, and is now having a rough time re-entering the profession. Here’s the advice I collected, which includes the wisdom of a former student who’s now a TV producer in Houston, and also draws on other sources I use when I teach career readiness classes for English majors.

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

It’s exam week, and at the moment I have exactly one unmarked assignment (for a paper due Friday)

It’s exam week, and at the moment I have exactly one unmarked assignment (for a paper due Friday). I didn’t lower my standards or assign less work; I did spend instructional time more strategically, with more in-class journaling, peer workshops, and conferences. I still have work on its way in and deadlines to meet, but at the moment I have a breather.

Disability advocates: Don’t drop COVID-19 safety measures

With the lethal threat of COVID-19 on the decline, many colleges are relaxing policies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Disability advocates fear that high-risk individuals will suffer. “Universities aren’t necessarily listening to disabled students,” said Eiryn Griest Schwartzman, who co-founded COVID Safe Campus, an advocacy organization for students and employees with disabilities. “That push to return to normal has persisted. It gets demoralizing, and it gets harder to continue to advocate. And it could potentially result in people stopping their education if they feel like they don’t have the resources to keep going and feel undersupported.”–Inside Higher Ed

As a plucky grad student, I walked in the door ready to negotiate with a department that needed my labor.

I think enough time has passed that I can tell this story. When I was a PhD student at the University of Toronto in the mid 1990s, the department asked me to sit through a week of undergrad presentations and proctor a final exam for my advisor, who needed to take a brief medical leave. I made a cup of tea for an afternoon of marking, tallied up and posted the final grades, and got some work-study money for my trouble. When I checked in with my advisor by phone, he mentioned he wasn’t going to return for the next…

Please use the microphone at public events (I have an auditory processing disorder and can’t understand you — even if you shout really loudly from your seat)

Still recovering from this morning’s three-hour training session. Huge echoey room. Lots of masked people talking, some of whom were shouting their comments and questions from their seats instead of using the microphones.   When we were asked to share a time we felt excluded, I went up to the mic, mentioned my auditory processing disorder, and said I feel excluded right now by the people who weren’t using the microphones. “If you want me to hear you, you will have to use the microphones.”   Afterwards several people thanked me, saying I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t hear.…

Ungrading after 11 weeks

Mathematics professor Robert Talbot reports on his ongoing experiment with ungrading — giving feedback and emphasizing the students’ metacognition, rather than encouraging them to fixate on “marks.” (Students who are less equipped to self-evaluate might actually benefit from the clear signposting provided by grades, so in his experience, removing grading from education does not magically remove inequities in the classroom.) I think it’s possible to have a hybrid setup in a lower-level course (like I’m teaching this summer) where the work that addresses the lower reaches of Bloom’s Taxonomy is graded using specifications with marks, while the upper levels of…

The karyotype of Pimelodella cristata (Siluriformes: Heptapteridae) from Central Amazon basin: with a discussion of the chromosome variability in Pimelodella I, as the Editor (i.e. no as the Author of the Article) can confirm that it is OK to proceed; you have, however, to get also the reply from the Author; thank you. Nevertheless, Figures 1-3 should be somehow inserted within the main text of the paper. And I do not know why my reply is automatically directed to Frank Franco…?

Some scholarly journals have a more rigorous peer review process than others. Source: The karyotype of Pimelodella cristata (Siluriformes: Heptapteridae) from Central Amazon basin: with a discussion of the chromosome variability in Pimelodella I, as the Editor (i.e. no as the Author of the Article) can confirm that it is OK to proceed; you have, however, to get also the reply from the Author; thank you. Nevertheless, Figures 1-3 should be somehow inserted within the main text of the paper. And I do not know why my reply is automatically directed to Frank Franco…? Update: The page has been edited.…

Selected Negative Teaching Evaluations of Jesus Christ

“Not what I expected. They say his area of specialty is carpentry, but we never built anything.” “Kind of absent-minded. My name’s Simon, and he’s called me ‘Peter’ for the entire semester.” “I wanted to like this class, but on the first day, he submerged us in a river instead of going over the syllabus, and that was kind of a lot.” […] “I asked him to sign my accommodations form from the Disability Services Office, and he spit on the ground and rubbed the dirt in my eyes. I can see now, but it was still rude.” —McSweeney’s

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Timescape (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 25) Time bubble aliens lay eggs in Romulan warbird’s artificial black hole, apparently

  Rewatching ST:TNG Picard, Data, Troi and LaForge are lounging in the back section of a runabout (seen only in this episode), reflecting on a conference they just attended, when they start running into pockets of space where time moves at different rates. They find the Enterprise-D and a Romulan Warbird frozen in time, apparently in the middle of a battle.  LaForge rigs anti-time-bubble armbands so the crew can board the time-frozen Enterprise-D to see what’s going on. On the bridge, Riker is on the floor and armed Romulans are looming over him; in a transporter room, Worf has been beaming…