Infinite 1102: A Collective Romp Through Infinite Jest, Part I

  1079 pages. 388 footnotes.  2 lbs 10 oz (and that’s the paperback). David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is nothing if not formidable. It languishes on many a “to-read” shelf alongside Joyce’s Ulysses and Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. Despite its intimidation factor, Infinite Jest can be a pretty accessible read, and it is absolutely… Continue reading

Tech, No to Tech, Yes: How a Former Technophobe Becomes a Digital Teaching Fellow, Part 2

Happy New Year and New Semester! My fellow teachers won’t be surprised to hear that I didn’t get a chance to finish another post last semester. But that delay turned into an opportunity to reflect at the end of my first semester teaching in a highly digital environment. What follows… Continue reading

D-Ped For Wednesday, 10/31

  Hi D-Ped folks, this Wednesday, we’ll be discussing using digital and other pedagogical methods to work with ELL students and otherwise defined “at-risk” students in our classes.  We’ve provided some very short readings we’d like you to read before Wednesday.   Fair warning: we’d prefer that everyone be “devices down,” or… Continue reading

D-Ped 10/17: Multimodal Portfolios

On Wednesday, Drs. Mollie Barnes, Joy Bracewell, Leah Haught, and Jon Kotchian will present on designing, incorporating, and assessing multimodal portfolios in our courses. As you recall, the portfolio assignment allows our students to demonstrate certain competencies: With these outcomes in mind, our presentation will consider how student portfolios can… Continue reading

Once more unto the breach …

Or, Why Teach Shakespeare to Georgia Tech Undergraduates? This is the third term I’ve used early moden drama as the theme for my 1102 classes. In fall 2011 I taught a course on London City Comedy (The Shoemaker’s Holiday, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, Bartholmew Fair); last spring I… Continue reading

Working Toward Definitions

One thing that stands out in our conversations these past weeks is just how amorphous the term “hybrid” actually is, both pedagogically and methodologically. In the past few weeks we’ve talked about tools and platforms, shared successes and failures in our own intentional and un-intentional forays into hybrid pedagogy (however… Continue reading

Myth in the Classroom (or the column formerly known as such)

After a longer-than-anticipated hiatus, I return to discuss something relatively far afield from myth. Instead, I want to share an assignment that my students recently completed, because it was relatively painless for me to teach and grade and relatively productive at getting students to learn the difficult skill of close reading.

I often tell (read: nag; cajole; harangue) my students to pay attention to all of the little details of language, to notice how the most seemingly insignificant choices that the author makes have significant effects on the text’s meaning. I’ve found in the past that teaching close reading with poetry is often the best approach, since poetry (at least good poetry) is able to jam as much meaning as possible into the smallest amount of space. So I often begin my courses with poetry and a discussion of close reading: what it is, why it’s beneficial—even to aspiring engineers. (Being able to discern the tone that their email is conveying if they write it in ALL CAPS, for example, is a useful skill for them to have.) Continue reading

Hybrid Pedagogies: Epistemology and Empiricism

This week’s seminar picked up where we left off, revisiting the usage of Twitter in a classroom setting with two instructor demonstrations of Twitter backchannels, including one for an in-class film screening. Another instructor demonstrated how the Piazza platform had stimulated classroom discussion in similar ways to Twitter, which led to the first of two main questions of the night: What we want from using a hybrid pedagogy? Possibilities included more student engagement, or a better quality of student work and responsiveness, but we also voiced the desire to create a classroom space that had a different sense of community that is somehow different from that created by face-to-face interaction. Once our goals were articulated, we were faced with the more difficult question of how we can assess to what extent we get what we want. It is this second question that this blog post will focus on.

While discussion mainly centered on practical and logistical questions, as well as anecdotal successes and failures, the underlying assumptions that shaped our inquiries are both methodological and epistemological. Epistemology and methodology are inextricably linked. The purpose of this post is to review the reasons why epistemology and methodology are so contentious among researchers in composition theory and technical writing, as well as create a space for further discussion. Continue reading