THATCamp Philadelphia: THATCamp Tips (Session Proposers/Moderators=William Patrick Wend/Chris Gazzara)

Chris and I proposed this session to discuss ways to move forward with THATCamp Community College. As you can see, session attendees had plenty of useful ideas.

  • Give some kind of credit to students for attending.

  • Can THATCamp be a part of career reorientation?

  • Budget planning needs to happen early.

  • What about service learning?

  • How about workshops for basics of retraining...Wikipedia, Wordpress, Google Drive, etc

  • “Six tools in an hour” workshop suggested.

  • Could there be connections made to career services in that regard too?

  • What can someone take from a workshop that can be immediately implemented in the classroom?

  • Could there be THATCamp sessions on project management?

  • A suggestion to put up a history of your THATCamp. We can definitely do that.

  • What about sponsorship?

  • Potential for some synchronization with our undergraduate research program here at RCBC and THATCamp.

  • What criteria is required for a workshop to “count” for something?

  • Workshops for students on how to use phones for notes/annotation? Active learning note taking strategies.

  • Possible workshop on whether _____ is useful in the classroom. Let attendees keep a scorecard.

  • A 30 minute summation workshop on previously done topics from our Center For Learning & Instruction.

ThatCamp Philadelphia: Digital Humanities In The Classroom

The first session I attended at ThatCamp Philadelphia was on the digital humanities in the classroom. This was a great session that gave me a few ideas for my own classes.

  • Is WordPress good for archival or manuscript work? Maybe Omeka is better for that? There seem to be pretty significant differences between the hosted and non-hosted versions.
  • Someone mentioned making three minute “Ken Burns-y” videos with students.
  • Student created digital editions are a good thing to have on a CV. Could help with getting teaching or alt-ac job.
  • Loved the idea about students making timelines. We are trying that in my Shakespeare course with Dipity.
  • What do students need to learn besides WordPress to be effective and/or employable?
  • Suggestion to learn HTML and CSS.
  • Students should have project to create a website for future web presence.
  • I want to have students create websites to put online portfolios up, which could kickstart them to consider their web presence.
  • Putting work online forces students to consider audience.
  • Discussion of rewards during project as it goes instead of at end. I love this idea.
  • Student Writing Assessment: Did this project achieve what you set out to do?
  • Some discussion of Wikipedia projects, which I have done with mixed results in the past.
  • I brought up the shared Google Docs I use with my Literature classes.
  • How to deal with student concerns about online privacy.
  • Deal with privacy issues at beginning of project...make sure it is clear project will be public...should put this in syllabus
  • Students should consider general online presence and that future jobs will have some sort of online component.
  • Students should, with that said, be permitted to post anonymously. However, should also consider anonymous posting in regards to future CV/job stuff.
  • Good idea to have students search themselves online to see what their web presence is currently.

A Brief History Of My Blogging

 (as requested by one of my students)

I have been "blogging" in some way since sometime in the nineties. I had a few personal webpages from around 1996 to 1999 on various platforms like Angelfire and and others like it. I had a Livejournal blog from 2001-2002, but I made it private and then deleted it after some very personal posts about mental illness and sexuality got posted to some forums I read and posted on.

In 2004, I began blogging again. A few of my classmates in Scott Rettberg's senior seminar on postmodernism and I decided to begin blogging and encouraged each other to really work on our craft as time went on. One of them stopped that summer, another kept at it for a few years, and mine really took off. I loved over to Typepad sometime in August of 2004 and stayed there for a few years until Moveable Type annoyed me enough to want to try something else.

A big influence on my early blogging was Boing Boing. I spent a lot of the fall of 2004 and spring of 2005 trying to blog at least four times a day with links to interesting stories and commentary. Of course, this did not last very long. After the rise of social media, my blogging slowed down and evolved to be focused on posting about projects I am working on and less about the kind of linking and short discussion that, which I have written about before, has moved to places like Twitter.

I had owned my own web domain since 2002, but beyond a basic homepage I had not done much with it. In late 2005 and early 2006, I installed WordPress on that domain and moved over my posts from Typepad during that winter break. My time on Wordpress was pretty quiet for many years. I taught myself CSS by messing around with a install on a sub domain and actively blogged through 2007 and then slowed down a bit in graduate school and then once I began working until last year.

In the fall of 2012, I went to update my blog one day. I left Wordpress open for a little bit while doing something else, but came back, finished typing the post, and hit submit. I got a blank white screen. After many calls to my fairly unhelpful hosting provider, searches on web forums, and the realization that what could have fixed it wasn't properly being backup in my hosting provider’s backups, which they had just a shrug for me about that, I realized it was time to move. I put this off until the summer of 2013 when I would have time to work on a new domain.

So now this domain is hosted via Squarespace. I really like Squarespace and love the new design I came up with off of this template. Hopefully, this domain is a one stop venue for all of the things I am working on.

ThatCamp Philadelphia: Digital Humanities Integration Into Regular Literature Classrooms

The final session I attended at ThatCamp Philadelphia was run bu Janine Utell on integrating the digital humanities into regular literature classrooms.

  • Amanda French defines the digital humanities as “open access”
  • How can student work be put online? WordPress, PBWorks, etc
  • Digital Humanities Quarterly given as example of open access
  • Should give students option to take down work at the end of the semester
  • I am going to try out commonplace blogs with my eng102 classes next semester
  • Utell: Digital humanities is essential to keeping the humanities alive
  • Some discussion about establishing comment policies
  • Crowd sourcing comment policy to students
  • Peer review is important before work goes online
  • Instructor comments on blogs tapers off as semester goes on
  • French and Siobhan Phillips bring out Google’s ngrams, wordles
  • I’ve had students A/B an Obama speech to a Jefferson speech
  • More incorportation of audio, video, etc into literary classes
  • Modernist Journals Project
  • Amanda French stresses the need to teach bibliographic software like Noodle, Evernote, and Zotero

ThatCamp Jersey Shore: Amanda French’s Omeka Presentation

I attended a great presentation about Omeka by Amanda French sometime in the morning on the first day of ThatCamp Jersey Shore. I have become interested in Omeka recently, as I had been considering moving the flyer archive over to it. After hearing Amanda speak, I have decided not to move it, but i think there are plenty of great uses for Omeka.

  • Omeka was built for use by museums and archives
  • is server side software. Must have a server to publish on your own.
  • Dreamhost does one click installs of Omeka.
  • is a hosted version similar to
  • There is a lot of potential for metadata (Dublin Core) in Omeka. Standards are set by archivists and librarians.
  • The interface for Omeka is similar to WordPress. Adding an item is really easy.
  • A big downside I found was items only being in one collection at a time. Tagging may work better for that ala WordPress.
  • Plugins for adding an item to multiple collections may be coming soon.
  • Archives about Hurricane Katrina run on Omeka.
  • TEI looks very interesting. For example, in one of Washington’s letters would add “Martha Washington” to words “my wife.”


NJCEA: Teaching With Technology

The first panel I attended at NJCEA was the Teaching With Technology one early in the day. Julie Cassidy was the first speaker. Cassidy spoke about requiring students to creat commonplace blogs for her classes. This is an idea I am going to try and implement into my courses this fall. Right now, I am thinking of using Tumblr for this. (see mine)

  • According to Cassidy, blogs allow conversation to begin before class.
  • Students are required to pull three quotes for each story/novel/etc
  • An example of Dr. Cassidy’s classes.
  • Blogs are low stakes, informal, writing, so lots of room for reflection.
  • Cassidy has students use WordPress for the assignment. I’m leaning towards using Tumblr.
  • The required quotes can be worked into prep for paper writing.

Next, Geoff Klock spoke about pacing and technology in the classroom.

  • Klock uses film clips in class to break up discussion.
  • Klock used to use Youtube in class, but he found the clips were too low quality. He now uses DVDShrink, which I have used in Windows before, and MPEGClipStream to pull clips. Is there a Linux version? DVDShrink doesn’t work too well in WINE.
  • Klock also incorporates mp3′s of poems into discussion. I am going to start doing that later this summer.
  • Klock argues that clips bring back interest. Clips refresh class discussion and bring full attention back.

Finally, Megan Titus spoke about student perceptions and blogging.

  • Titus has used edublogs in the past, but they have spammed students.
  • Blogs help teach ethical responsibility and community.
  • Professional writing is increasingly online.
  • Blogging increases opportunity to practice argumentation, citation, and ethics.
  • Titus requires proposals, which are peer reviewed by students and Titus.

End Of Semester Roundup

Prof Hacker’s end of semester checklist post suggested writing some sort of “End of the Semester Roundup” post so I thought I would write one up. This semester was one of great advancements for me. I taught my first college level courses and had a great time doing so. Originally, my schedule involved teaching two sections of Composition I but during the first week of the semester I ended up adding a section of Composition II as well.

Comp I was a lot of work, but well worth it. I saw a lot of advancement in my student’s work as the semester went on. I also saw a lot if disappointing efforts from others. Teaching writing and grammar also allowed me to sharpen my own skills and talk about some of the adventures I have had over the years as a student and academic. Check out the class weblog for more information.

Composition II was a great joy to teach. I got to teach a lot of my favourite canonical authors like Chopin, Gilman, and Ibsen. An unconscious theme of discussing gender and women’s liberation became a focus of our close readings as the semester advanced through short stories to plays (A Doll House, Othello) and then to poets like Plath and Dickinson. Immediately, a handful of students stood apart from the rest of the class but I also saw many others slowly begin to contribute more and more as they became more comfortable with their own close reading skills. My focus in class was on what my students wanted to discuss. Of course, I would bring lecture notes with ideas I wanted to highlight. However, after our daily, randomly selected, journal readers I would ask the class where they wanted to begin, what they wanted to discuss, and that is where we would start. I could talk for hours about most of the texts we read, but I am more concerned with what my students wish to discuss.

One student in particular started the semester off very slowly only to eventually be the first to raise their hand almost every class. Another only contributed on Fridays, somehow, but always blew our minds with their ideas. Almost every student in class had a day where they stood out and shone brighter than anyone else.

The week of my classroom observation by Dr. Alexander coincided with my favorite week of the semester: the week we discussed (post)modern authors like Borges, Coover, and Auster. I was very impressed with my students and their ability to tackle these difficult texts. I can’t wait to teach 102 again and hope I get a chance to pick up a section in the spring. Check out our course weblog.

This semester I ran our course weblogs on WordPress and am thrilled with the results. I have run WP on a number of websites, including this one, for the past four years and couldn’t be happier with the results. In the spring I think I am going to try the dreaded Blackboard for my classes. As an offsite alternative, I believe I am going to wade my toes into the world of Drupal as well. I am going to spend some time over break considering my options.

I also guest lectured for two classes in Dr. McCadden’s upper level class ENG203 The Origins of Literature. I presented two lectures: “Telemachus & The Search For the Ideal Son in Classical Greek Literature” and “The Odyssey & Nonlinear Reading.”

Another project I am going to finish over break is the long-awaited draft of my article on Shelley Jackson for The Quarterly Conversation. I was supposed to have this completed for the winter issue, but the hectic nature of the fall semester got in the way. Scott Esposito was gracious enough to give me an extension. I’m hoping to have something to him early in the new year.

I have a handful of journal article proposals that I need to send over break as well. A few of them are spinoff projects from my MA thesis and others are ideas that I have brewed for a period of time. Hopefully some of them will be publishable.

in the spring, currently, I am teaching two sections of Comp I. One is MWF, the other TT. This isn’t the most ideal schedule, but hopefully I will pick another Comp I, a Comp II, or another class. I am very happy to have a few weeks off to get some of my work done and prep for the spring. However, I am also excited to get back to Burlington and begin teaching again.