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Maybe Not Massively, But Definitely Open, Faculty Seminar

cc licensed flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Harumph, that’s me reading an analog book and marking it up. WTF?

A few months ago and an NMC Board meeting, Gardner Campbell conjectured the idea to try and create some sort of online reading group among our community. The idea bubbled a bit (I was pondering using BookGlutton, I love their way of sharing readings of e-texts), but Gardner circled back with another interesting idea we are now experimenting with.

Over in Texas where he directs the Academy of Teaching and Learning and Baylor University, Gardner was already planning to host a New Media Seminar for faculty, more or less, applying the syllabus he has done so successfully for years as an undergraduate course From Memex to YouTube: An Introduction to New Media Studies.

I cannot give justice to a description, but if you ever had heard Gardner do a presentation, you can imagine how electric he would be for an entire semester– he leads students through the history of ideas and innovations that gave rise to modern computers and this internet landscape that seems familiar to many of us, focusing on the ideas and the people who made this happen. I’ve heard him describe more than once the joy of seeing his students light up in amazement after reading what might be seen as “old” essays on this New Media history.

In his role to support faculty development at Baylor, Gardner is this semester running an in-person faculty seminar with a similar syllabus — New Media as a Platform for Integrative Learning: A Faculty Development Seminar. And thus we hatched the idea to create a way for people beyond this group to be part of the seminar- not everything that there like a Massively Online Open Course, but doing the same readings, watching the same videos, and then we will have both the Baylor group and anyone else following along from afar engage in discussions in an online shared space.

Being an outside participant is completely voluntary, and if you want, you can just lurk, but we think it will be much better if you are right in the mix.

Well that is the plan, it is loosely joined and likely sometimes out of control.

What we are doing at NMC is communicating to people about this, and every Monday (the Baylor group meets Tuesday afternoons) I am posting an audio interview with Gardner where we will recap what happened the week before and then he does some foreshadowing about what is coming the next week.

You can find our resources at So far, we have two podcasts-one (Introduction to the New Media Faculty Development Seminar) is where Gardner describes the seminar and what people can expect to do as a remote participant, and then just posted 2 days ago, the summary for week 1.

At the core of the seminar are a series of essays in The New Media Reader, a work I have heard Gardner lavishly reference for years. So we had a joke in the first seminar that “yes there is a required textbook” — while a number of the essays are online, we recommend getting the Old Fashioned Book (I got mine for less than $40 on Amazon dirt cheap comparde to even the last college textbook I bought more than 20 years ago).

The essays this week include

I’ve known of As We May think, but today was my first complete reading, and oh, was my highlighter busy. While the mechanics of the memex may seem crude (the drawings with belts, levers, and microfilm) the functions and the concepts are prescient, even to what I saw described as gesture interface, the retrieval of information that is just a verb today. Plus Bush foresaw that a hierarchical card catalog organizaing scheme would not serve a complex body of information–

Our ineptitude in getting at the record is largely caused by the artificiality of systems of indexing. When data of any sort are placed in storage, they are filed alphabetically or numerically and information is found (when it is) by tracing it down from subclass to subclass… The human mind does not work like that way. It operates by association.

And in a few more paragraphs Bush is describing what we call the “semantic web” as well as the connections among “a trail of his interest through the maze of materials available to him” — voila! hypertext makes it happen. The one piece I noted missing in the memex as that it sounds like it was a solitary experience- one person and the machine, far from the social connectivity and human networks we find vital in 2010.

So here’s what to do if you want to participate

  • Get the book. Yeah, old media, dead trees, but the ideas in these essays are more alive then ever. Let Gardner the master teacher light them up for you.
  • Join the online forum. We will keep it open a little while, but this is the place the remote audience will engage with each other and the Baylor group.

It’s all an experiment, so I hope some of you are willing to join us for the ride. Light up your Harleys and your highlighter pens.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so)


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