Monday, October 17, 2005

This is your program: This is your program on weblogs

Before reading what is below, start with an overview of what we have done in our own program:

One teacher's perspective on weblogs in a curriculum, from Teaching teachers to use weblogs, TESOL 2005, San Antonio TX.

We are considered brave, to put our program out in public, and it is in fact brave. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and somebody has to actually be there to do this people know what they're getting into? Probably not. Nor do I, completely. I write 100 cool things to do with weblogs, but if everyone did all this stuff (and eventually I'm sure someone will) some institutions would simply prohibit the use of this media by its faculty, etc.

Now let's talk about the institution itself. It takes a lot of courage, I believe, for an institution to be really open to the blogosphere and everything it entails. One can only conclude that the big ones in our lives (in my case, CESL, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, the State of Illinois, and the US Government) are (perhaps unlike China) unaware of what it really entails, or they're really quite brave, in a first-amendment, benevolent kind of way. The price of trying to control freedom of speech in this country is often greater than the price of letting it go where it's going to go (in our case, not very far)... Because the fact is, you can change these weblogs any minute, and you can change them deep inside their own insides, etc. etc. You can even change them inside their own templates and you can even hide stuff in there, not that I would ever do such a thing.

My sense is that the institution would probably be more worried about a well-done deception (several of these have been well-documented)...than a disagreeable opinion...

It's scary. But not so scary as, say, teaching with Skype. Still, as a responsible person, I worry about such things. After all, I teach people to teach with them. Most of them are young people. They're from all over the world. They'll go home expecting to be able to own the media... What are we unleashing on the world?

One of my students was shocked the other day that everyone had the log-on and the password to our entire system. That's a fact, at least at the moment. But I think we forget the fact that, really, the whole world has freedom of speech anyway. It's just that people don't always realize the consequences of certain speech until it's too late. Or they have to learn the hard way.

blogging in academia

an article about blogging in academia (tribune might require log-in)...

I can't say that I've had any big problems in academia. Nobody at my university really reads my weblog much, even when I've gone out of my way to, say, put a burning cigar on it and point it out to the guy who just had a baby girl...I've put public statements on there, against the war, against the disestablishment of linguistics (I'm an antidisestablishmentarianist)...and haven't heard a peep from anyone who it might have made a difference to. But that's ok, I'm sure they'll read it someday. On some level I'm sure they're aware that it's there...

This article rankled me a little, partly because it contained the assumption that "the academy" was assuming that this guy's communicating directly to his audience was somehow undermining or influencing, perhaps even trumping (or end-around-ing) his published work.

It's partly because in many ways the definition of academic is often at the other end of the spectrum from the "personal" world of the blogosphere...but should it be?

More on this later...


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