Some notes from my podcast with room34

For the past four weeks, STA and I have been doing a podcast called The Undisciplined Room. I’m really enjoying experimenting with podcasts; I’ve wanted to try them out for some time now. I know, I’m a little late to the party. Tons of people have been experimenting with podcasts for a long time now. I like doing research for the podcast and then having free-floating conversations about the topics. Well, maybe I like those parts too much. So far, our podcasts are each about 90 minutes. As STA and I discussed in yesterday’s podcast, we need to make them a little shorter. This means I need to stop bringing in so many topics and so many notes. Ha! Easier said than done. To ensure that our podcasts are not so long (too much trouble? too unruly? just too much?), I might post some of my notes and my thoughts here. I’m experimenting with that today by posting some of my notes, with a few additional thoughts, from yesterday’s podcast: Episode 4: I Always Have a Problem with Everything

APPLE’S LATEST ANNOUNCEMENT: iBooks Author + iBooks2 + iTunesU app
a. Apple and the Digital Textbook Counter-Revolution: is it revolutionary?
b. Reflections on the Apple Education Event
c. Apple introduces tools to someday supplant textbooks

If you don’t know what these apps/new Apple products are, check out the above links for an introduction. I’ve downloaded the iBooks Author app and experimented just a little with it. I have a few ideas about using it in relation to my trouble blog/research. At first, I was thinking of using it to create an introduction to the blog and to troublemaking. After talking with STA on the podcast, I have another project in mind too: A book (or a series of books?) on my queering feminist virtues, including troublemaking. I’ll need to think through what other virtues that I might want to add. In the past I’ve researched/written about courage and vigilance/persistence.

In preparation for our discussion, I wrote the following:
I don’t like textbooks: I’ve never used them for teaching. I was reminded of this when I read Hack Education’s post and her critique of textbooks as having students focus on secondary materials instead of primary ones. Maybe that’s helpful in science, but in the humanities, reading primary sources (and expanding what counts as and who is included as) is very important, especially for my own pedagogy. Can students handle primary sources? Trying to read these sources might make them uncomfortable in productive and/or valuable ways.

What interactive possibilities does it offer? Kathleen Fitzpatrick laments the lack of interactivity between readers or between author and reader; the interactivity is only between the individual user and the text. Here’s what she writes:

But there are some notable gaps here, as well. The textbooks that can be produced with iBooks Author and read in iBooks 2 are interactive, in the sense of an individual reader being able to work with an individual text in a hands-on fashion. They do not, however, provide for interaction amongst readers of the text, or for responses from a reader to reach the author, or, as far as I can tell so far, for connections across texts. The “book,” though multimediated, manipulable, and disembodied, is still a discrete, fairly closed object.

I think this is an important point. However, I wonder if that interactivity between readers and the reader and author is always necessary. What intimate (whatever that might mean) connections between a reader and a text get lost when we make everything social/interactive? Personally, even as much as I like twitter and blog comments (yes, I like blog comments), I don’t always want to know what others–even the author–think about a subject. I like to imagine my own possibilities. I am fighting back a digression about the creative process and problems with “groupthink” here. It’s hard to not talk about it, since it’s all over the interwubz these days (here and here and here).

In addition to the question of whether or not interactivity between readers is always a good thing, I like what tubbsjohn has to say about where that interactivity could/should take place in their comment on Fitzpatrick’s post:

Since the book is interactive, why not point the student out to an existing webservice such as a threaded discussion, a collaborative writing space, file uploads, photo sharing and others (behind your school’s authentication gates likely) that provide the sort activity you’d like the students to engage in. This way you can keep the ebook at the core the course but have diversions away from the book to activities that do it the way you’d like it. A simple thought but one that comes up in student responses to ereading: I want the book open AND my notebook or other activity open. This book/browser arrangement is just what the student is looking for.

I like their focus on both/and (the non-interactive/”closed” book AND other interactive options) and opposed to one or the other. As I write this, I also wonder about yet another option beyond either/or and both/and: How about getting rid of the book altogether? For my feminist debates class this past semester, I almost exclusively assigned blog posts.

Before moving on to a new, yet related, topic, I want to give a SHOUT-OUT to a “totally awesome blogger” that I just discovered: Hack Education This blogger/tech ed writer looks really cool. She has a master’s in women’s studies and wrote about political pranks. She calls herself a rabble-rouser and is ABD in comp lit. I’m excited/curious to check out her writings and to see how her women’s studies training and her rabble rousing influence her writing/reflections on tech ed. question How does feminist training influence one’s approaches to technology? Should one be explicit about their influences? If so, how? Questions about whether or not to claim one’s feminism (and how one might do that) come up a lot in my classes and I’m always interested in exploring how others grapple with them.

Stanford professor who taught AI class online to 160,000 students. Is this the future of education?
a. Tenured Professor Departs Stanford U, Hoping to Teach 500,000 Students at Online Start Up
b. Check out his video talk too.

In the Chronicle article, the professor writes:

I feel like there’s a red pill and a blue pill,” he said. “And you can take the blue pill and go back to your classroom and lecture your 20 students. But I’ve taken the red pill, and I’ve seen Wonderland.

In my tweet about the quotation, I ask: What about a purple pill? Can we find ways to think about education technology within traditional academic spaces or without wholly rejecting traditional academic spaces? What is the role of traditional higher education? Should all courses be free? I will be pondering and struggling with these questions all year as I attempt to figure out my own role in relation to the academy. I see tremendous value in new technologies and moving outside of traditional (increasingly isolating and prohibitively expensive) academic spaces. Yet, I still see value in higher education; I loved my experiences as a student at a small liberal arts college and am not ready to give up on higher education altogether.

Okay, that’s some (yes, only some!) of my notes from yesterday’s podcast. I like continuing the conversation (well, at least continuing my engaging with the ideas) over here on my trouble blog. Maybe I’ll try it again next week.

Is grief a disorder?

I ran across the following article in the New York Times this morning: Grief Could Join List of Disorders. In my quick glance at the article (and the link it provides to a study by Jerome C. Wakefield and Michael B. First), the controversy seems to be over whether or not to remove the bereavement exclusion (BE) in the fifth revision of the DSMV. If removed, grief could be treated as a disorder. In his co-authored study with First, Wakefield argues that the BE should be left in. I like what Wakefield writes (as cited in the NY Times article):

“An estimated 8 to 10 million people lose a loved one every year, and something like a third to a half of them suffer depressive symptoms for up to month afterward,” said Dr. Wakefield, author of “The Loss of Sadness.” “This would pathologize them for behavior previously thought to be normal.”

I must admit, I haven’t done much reading or research on Psychology/psychiatry and the DSMV or on (social) scientific studies of grief. Since I’m curious, maybe I should. I wonder, how do the studies discuss the experiences of grief that linger or reoccur even years after a loss? What are the dangers (such as pathologization) of understanding this to be a disorder? What are the benefits of treating it as disorder?

Here’s what I want to put BESIDE/S this study/article/issue:
1. Judith Butler and her theorizations of grief and critiques of the DSMV in Undoing Gender (particularly, ch 1: Beside Oneself and ch 4: Undiagnosing Gender)
2. My posts tagged with “grief” on this blog

What about a purple pill?

Cool. But must we choose between a blue and a red pill? What about a purple pill?

A new look!

Notice something different? I’m in the process of re-designing my blog (just a little), thanks to STA and some awesome fonts from Chank. I’m using Dry Cowboy for headlines and Adrianna for text. Pretty sweet. I’m also hoping to revamp my about pages and add in some more teaching materials (finally) soon. So far, the new look is inspiring to make more trouble and have (even) more fun on this blog.

on developing good reading/ consuming/ engaging habits

If you’ve spent some time reading through my blog, you know that I’m very interested in virtue ethics and the value of breaking some harmful habits (undisciplining ourselves) and cultivating other, helpful habits (like learning how to make and stay in trouble in ways that challenge or dismantle oppressive systems and practices). I’m not just interested in writing about virtue ethics on my blog, however. I’m also interested in exploring how writing/engaging on blogs can enable us to become more virtuous in general and how we might use virtue ethics to engage in blogging practices, approaches and attitudes that enable us to be more virtuous online. This latter goal of engaging in more effective, virtuous blogging practices involves thinking through how we blog and how we can develop habits that are more helpful (I’m particularly interested in habits that enable us to care–for others and for ourselves) and less harmful. What does this look like? Why are good habits important? Here’s one source that might provide some answers to these questions:

The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption I found out about this book via Brain Pickings (which I seem to be reading a lot lately). Check out this video for it:

Clay Johnson’s book looks intriguing; he’s interested in addressing how to deal with the increased amount of information we have access to in the era of online media and social networks by understanding it not as a problem of information overload, but one of unhealthy consumption habits. While I haven’t had a chance to spend much time thinking about his approach (or reading it; I downloaded a sample chapter to my iPad that I’ll hopefully look at tonight), I look forward to critically assessing it. I’m especially interested in exploring his suggestions for developing effective/helpful/healthy consumption habits online. One of his big focuses seems to be on thinking about healthy internet consumption habits in relation to healthy eating/dieting habits. I wonder, does he draw upon strategies employed by “the diet industry” and dieting/nutrition experts? What are the limits of this comparison?I should mention that while I appreciate the emphasis on health, I’m a little dubious about his approach. 

Here’s what I want to put BESIDE/S The Information Diet: