Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dear Ms. Undine answers more questions

Dear Ms. Undine,
From Shutterstock

Someone just wrote a book that is entirely composed of tweets about writing a book. People post about how they are writing (#amwriting) and how good they feel about it. The author says that it's not cruel to make fun of these people. The book sells for $9 on Amazon.

If I cite this using MLA, do I put it as an edited book? Did I miss the boat on collecting other people's words for free and charging for them? Is it possible that making fun of random strangers who post on Twitter could be considered cruel?

Signed, Soft-hearted Susan

Dear Susan,



Dear Ms. Undine,

I want my class to be a success on the first day. Do you have any advice?

Signed,  Newbie

Dear Newbie,

You can find a good list at Vanderbilt or your own university's teaching and learning center.  That list is mostly great advice, although I don't follow this part under the "sharing information" section: "Personal biography: your place of birth, family history, educational history, hobbies, sport and recreational interests, how long you have been at the university, and what your plans are for the future."

I figure if they know that I'm a humanoid life form and where my office is, that will about exhaust their interest in me.  If they want to know more, they will ask.


Dear Ms. Undine,

I would like to save paper by not printing a syllabus but by putting it in Blackboard/Canvas instead. Students will read it there before they come to class, right?

Signed, Dances with Trees

Dear Dances,

Long ago, in a classroom far away, a dewy-eyed Ms. Undine believed as you do.  Then she checked the usage statistics to see how many students had looked at the syllabus and emerged a broken woman.

You don't have to hand out print copies of everything, but a print copy of a syllabus is like a contract for the class.  Just the physical act of handing out something on paper will help them to take it more seriously.  They are online all the time, and what's there is ephemeral to them. Since a piece of paper is no longer the norm, it has more weight than a bunch of pixels.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately budget cuts at my uni means that printing syllabuses is not an option: faculty get charged for all printing. Really. No joke. And we're told that since we can just put everything on Blackboard, it's fine -- in fact, it's better! Go technology!

undine said...

Anon--So do you think that administrators put everything on a central server somewhere and just trust that everyone will read it? I wonder if they had to use it if they'd foist it on everyone.