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Chronicle of Higher Education

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After Frustrations in Second Life, Colleges Look to New Virtual Worlds

Some colleges that have built virtual classrooms in Second Life—the online environment where people walk around as avatars in a cartoonlike world—have started looking for an exit strategy. The virtual world has not lived up to the hype that peaked in 2007, when just about every day brought a new announcement from a college entering Second Life. Today, disenchanted with commercial virtual worlds but still convinced of their educational value, a few colleges have started to build their own, where they have more control.

Young, Jeffrey R. Chronicle of Higher Education (2010). Articles>Education>Social Networking>3D


Asking for Help is a Productivity Tool

I know some people see asking questions as a sign of weakness or insecurity (and believe others will view them that way), and that asking questions can produce answers we don’t want to hear. Both of those possible results pale in comparison to the potential good that just sitting down and asking questions can produce.

Meloni, Julie. Chronicle of Higher Education (2010). Articles>Collaboration>Help


Conference Humiliation: They're Tweeting Behind Your Back

Conference speakers beware: Twecklers are watching. They're out for blood. And you may be their next victim. The Twitter "back channel" can be a powerful tool to quickly knit a gathering of strangers into an online community, a place where attendees at meetings broadcast bits of sessions, share extra information such as links, and arrange social events. But the same technology can also enable a "virtual lynching." That's the phrase one twitster used to describe what happened at last month's HighEdWeb Association conference, an event that has gone down in social-media history as perhaps the most brutal abuse of the back channel yet.

Parry, Marc. Chronicle of Higher Education (2009). Articles>Presentations>Social Networking>Ethics


Review: Fifty Years of Stupid Grammar Advice

April 16 is the 50th anniversary of the publication of a little book that is loved and admired throughout American academe. Celebrations, readings, and toasts are being held, and a commemorative edition has been released. I won't be celebrating. The Elements of Style does not deserve the enormous esteem in which it is held by American college graduates. Its advice ranges from limp platitudes to inconsistent nonsense. Its enormous influence has not improved American students' grasp of English grammar; it has significantly degraded it.

Pullum, Geoffrey K. Chronicle of Higher Education (2009). Articles>Reviews>Style Guides>Grammar


Interpreting Editorese

Even if an editor loves, loves, loves your work, she is still likely to have to shepherd it through some kind of review process — either internally, in the case of a trade house, or to external academic readers. Many manuscripts die that way, despite the "interest" of the press. Those that are not outright killed can be wounded and sent back to you for some critical care.

Toor, Rachel. Chronicle of Higher Education (2009). Articles>Publishing>Editing>Collaboration


Teaching with Google Wave

Google Wave is extremely powerful groupware, designed to facilitate the interactions of groups working together on projects—which turns out to be a pretty good description of many college classes.

Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. Chronicle of Higher Education, The (2010). Articles>Education>Online>Social Networking


What Colleges Should Learn From Newspapers' Decline

Newspapers are dying. Are universities next? The parallels between them are closer than they appear. Both industries are in the business of creating and communicating information. Paradoxically, both are threatened by the way technology has made that easier than ever before.

Carey, Kevin. Chronicle of Higher Education (2009). Articles>Education>Publishing>Online


When Computers Leave Classrooms, So Does Boredom

A study published in the April issue of British Educational Research Journal found that 59 percent of students in a new survey reported that at least half of their lectures were boring, and that PowerPoint was one of the dullest methods they saw. "The least boring teaching methods were found to be seminars, practical sessions, and group discussions," said the report. In other words, tech-free classrooms were the most engaging.

Young, Jeffrey R. Chronicle of Higher Education (2009). Articles>Presentations>Education


Writing Like a Doctor

The mere act of reading good books, if you are not stopping to scrutinize the moves and tools used by the writers, examining and dissecting the choices they have made and why they work, will do nothing for you when you sit down to write. If you want a journal to accept your paper, or a federal agency to grant you coin, you have to make clear what is at stake and why the reader should care. Then you have to put forward the strongest reasoning based on evidence you provide in the clearest language you are able to rally. And then you need to know when you need help.

Toor, Rachel. Chronicle of Higher Education (2009). Articles>Education>Writing>Scientific Communication

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