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Recording the WordPress Workshop…

Hi all,

Unfortunately, I am unable to record the WordPress workshop tomorrow. Would anyone be able to record it? I can switch with you if you’re set to record later in the semester.


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More thoughts on DIY and extra institutional learning

I really liked these readings and the ways in which they talked about how we can begin to close the differential and inequitable access to knowledge and education, and better incorporate experience, collaboration, critical thinking and independence into learning. Laura did a great job summarizing the articles and posing questions, and Hadassah’s question about what motivates us to learn is really interesting, so I’ll just add a few thoughts. We can certainly see the DIY culture growing (eg, Brooklyn Brainery, 3rd Ward) and it’s exciting to have so many opportunities to create, learn new skills, and foster community — all things that I think help to motivate, or “direct us” as learners. But I think the notion of accreditation that Laura and Hadassah bring up is an interesting one, and definitely mirrors our conversation from last week. You may have seen this, but there’s a recent NYT article about higher education which posed the question “Why Go to College?

Interestingly, in 2008 a standardized test to become “Certified in Public Health” was created. To take it, you have to have, or be earning, a masters or doctoral degree, from an already accredited school of public health. This is not a license to practice, but rather, according to their FAQs, a “voluntary credential that demonstrates mastery of the core knowledge of public health. However, more and more employers are preferentially hiring and promoting CPH professionals or those who are eligible for CPH credentialing.” It’s costs about $400-600 to take and is based on core competencies from the Masters in Public Health degree. I don’t know much more beyond that — or know anyone who’s taken it (Sonia? Janice?) but it’s always struck me as odd (and frustrating), since I thought graduating with an MPH (from an accredited “corporate university”) was enough of a certification, so why do we need to pay hundreds of dollars more to take a standardized test in a subject that is very not standardized in practice? Who is this benefiting?

And so it goes back to Laura’s question of “what counts?” This made me think of last week’s conversation about peer-review and its relationship to how we want to be perceived — and how we’re at this interesting cross roads, and uphill battle. So how do we participate in finding new ways of validating knowledge and fostering trust in these new open systems? What needs to happen to make it sustainable? What will it look like if the online, open education model becomes the dominant paradigm, and what are the possible unintended consequences?

Posted in Motivations.

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For those interested: Seeing the “guts” of a webpage

I was just playing with the new version of Firefox – 11.0, and it has a cool new feature that I thought would be of interest to our class, seeing as we are all starting to work on building our proof of concept for our final projects. When Hadassah gave the HTML workshop, she showed us all how to see the code of any webpage we are looking at. In the new Firefox, there is a 3D feature in the Web Developer tools (when using firefox on my mac, i find it by following this path: Tools > Web Developer > Inspect), where you can see the HTML, but you can also click the 3D button, and it will show you a 3D stack of all the different components in the webpage. It is a really neat visual of how any webpage is actually built. And if you were working on your own webpage, you can make changes live to the code within the browser, which is also pretty awesome. I don’t know if I am doing a good job of explaining this, so I suggest that if you are interested in seeing what I am talking about, just check out this the video Mozilla posted on their website, explaining the new 3D developer tools – or, if anyone is interested in seeing how I played with it to poke around with some html, I would be happy to demonstrate before/after class on thursday!

Posted in After Class Discussion.

Digital Humanities: Creative Activism in the Age of Digital Technologies

The Digital Humanities Working Research Group and the Hemispheric Institute invite you to a symposium on

Creative Activism in the Age of Digital Technologies

Friday, March 30th, 2012 from 2–5pm


Posted in Events.

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“human interaction and someone to answer your questions…”

I think to understand these readings, a brief on DIY and punk culture is in order. My understanding goes like this: not only is utilizing “traditional” channels of cultural production [by they universities, music labels, publishers, et. al.] expensive, inaccessible, boring, and reinforcing oppressive norms: it is also potentially dangerous, since truly radical ideas [and by extention, people] won’t pass the gatekeepers anyway so lesser ideas/productions are what become culturally popular. Plus, and “asking permission” to produce reinforces those parts of patriarchy which disempower by doing-for-since-they-know-better.

Now, with the gates to education becoming not just admissions but more substantially costs, Jim Groom and other Edupunks are facing the challenge paraphrased by David Wiley as “to capture the potential of technology to lower costs and improve learning for all.” Open Content is being worked on by educators such as Neeru Paharia, who sees her work as “proving the model”  [sound familiar?] The small proof-versions to “demonstrate that there’s a way to provide education cheaply or even for free to all.”

What the open-content networks deliver is “human interaction and someone to answer your questions,” which addresses is one of the major questions I’ve had with [and as] a self-directed learner: what is the motivation to achieve the challenge of completion? Is it accountability to others? Seeing a full product? What directs *you* as a learner to take on — and complete — the momentus associated tasks each week, month, year? Is it only accreditation?


Posted in Motivations, Reading.

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DIY Learning, Hacking and Accreditation

Some of these readings strongly echo our discussion from last Thursday – why are these novel approaches (in this case, open access university systems) being met with harsh resistance to accreditation?

In How Web-Savvy Edupunks Are Transforming American Higher Education, Kamenetz, quoting Jose Ferreira, writes, “The Internet disrupts any industry whose core product can be reduced to ones and zeros.” I think we’ve seen this everywhere in education – online supplementary materials for classrooms (like Blackboard), online research tools that have replaced encyclopedias (Wikipedia) and librarians (google, Wikipedia), and now online-only scholarship which we discussed last week.  The main problem we identified with the online-only journal model was its lack of accreditation within the majority of our fields. Open access journals that publish scholarly writing can be a major tool for us as academics to broaden our CVs or for students, non-academic learners, etc. to find resources to help them with research. However, this model of publishing is perceived as sub-par, or at the very least as non-competitive with more traditional journal formats. Despite the optimism about the Edupunk movement, there still seems to be the same concern over this lack of traditional accreditation.

Kamenetz discusses MIT’s ‘open content’ as a innovative frontrunner for a new model of higher education. However, what holds ‘open content’ back is its reception; though it contains courses from top universities, it is not affiliated with a traditional degree path – members who access course content do so without cost. Accreditation comes with a huge fee; those learners who seek higher education through these open access models will not receive the same credit for their work as their paying peers. This is extremely problematic; this type of university system could have a more positive and profound effect on the way that all future learners interact with information, and should be recognized as such.

Thomas Gokey argues that we need to ‘weaponize’ these open access schools and programs through “an autonomous accreditation agency based on mutual recognition.” I find such an approach inspiring, particularly because of last week’s discussion. If a lack traditional accreditation is the problem for these new approaches to learning, then why can’t we come up with a different model? Why can’t we based accreditation on something like mutual recognition?

I think the Wired piece gets at that very point – if self-motivated learners come together in a joint space to teach each other and learn from each other, why shouldn’t that count as a legitimate learning process? Is there any reason why these ‘students’ can’t come away from these ‘classes’ with a recognized skill set?

I think the Wired piece also touches upon another aspect of learning that Kamenetz mentions in her book – that of a social network of learners. While some learning is done in isolation, most people choose to participate in group learning environments (whether they be chatrooms, classrooms, workshops, coffeeshop meetups, etc.). This really seems to capture the social element of learning as something essential to the process. I definitely agree with this idea, and think it should be expanded beyond the traditional (acceptable) teacher/student relationship that dominates universities.

I really liked the way they Noisebridge system works – a very democratic approach to education. This echos some of my own research interests in philosophy. Traditional ‘private’ spaces take on a somewhat ‘public/political’ element when they educate individuals to be better citizens. How do they do this? By engaging in democratic processes (like giving grop members the freedom to pursue their own interests within the shared space, sharing and distributing resources, open access to resources and decision making, etc) outside of the traditional ‘public’ sphere of elections/policy making. Everyone can be and is an active participate, which is something that doesn’t always happen in the traditional classroom.

I think the open access model of education works off of some of these ideas – education should be accessible for all (not something that only the wealthy can afford), resources should be widely available or shared equally among learners (again, low-cost over high-cost), and learners should be able to choose how they will navigate their education rather than following a traditional path. Paving the way for new models of accreditation will allow these types of educational systems to better establish themselves, but I think a cautious approach is needed to avoid falling in line with traditional approaches to accreditation.

Posted in Motivations.

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American Studies / Politics & Protest Journals

In terms of researching online journals, I appreciated this assignment since it made me take my head out of books and PDFs and look where people might actually be interacting in a timely fashion. I found a quite a few non-scholarly journals [and one site that is a lot like the one I want to build:].


Posted in Assignment.

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Open Access Philosophy Journals

I had been having difficulty finding any online-only philosophy journals, especially ones that were open access. I knew of one, Philosophy Compass, because I have been a semi-regular reader for the past two years.

Philosophy Compass (Blackwell Publishing) is an online-only journal of philosophy that is free, open access, and publishes the work of professionals in the field as well as the work of graduate students. It’s not a highly specialized journal, and that’s precisely the point. Philosophy Compass publishes articles that are supposed to help philosophers, graduate students, undergraduate students, and non-academics navigate the terrain of current philosophical debates. Most philosophy journals have become so entrenched in sub-discipline jargon and polemical responses that they have become difficult to read, especially if one does not closely follow the particular focus of that journal, or know much about the philosopher(s) contributing.  Philosophy Compass prides itself on helping readers keep abreast of current debates, where philosophers stand on certain issues, what journal articles they should consider reading, and any new research trends or developing theories. The editors at Philosophy Compass acknowledge that the journal will never be able to replace original research being published in more traditional philosophy journals, but it hopes to at least give those who are looking for this research a good understanding of the research/debate, and a place to look for further, more detailed work.

In my own research, I have found this journal particularly useful, especially when I am trying to learn more about a debate or about one philosopher’s view on a debate (which at times can be very difficult to do!).

After reading Naomi’s post, I went to the website she suggested and found 183 open access philosophy journals! That was definitely a pleasant surprise, as I certainly had not expected there to be such volume. I’ll probably spend some time going through them, and bookmarking the ones that pertain to my research interests. Thanks for that link, Naomi!

Posted in Assignment.

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TRAUE: Theory Research and Action in Urban Education

Last year, Professor Jean Anon decided that she wanted to provide a writing platform for graduate students interested in becoming scholarly writers.  Publishing for an esteemed journal vetted within the field of Education was more of a dream than an actual reality for many students.  The diminishing job market penalized potential professors for not being published authors, while simultaneously limiting the opportunities for candidates to publish.    Jean organized a group of students to start the first Education journal written by students for students called TRAUE. We decided that although the journal would only be available online, we would emulate the pedagogical assets of the traditional peer review process to ensure the selection of quality articles for the journal.


We faced many of the unforeseen shortcomings that followed the going digital movement nicely explained in Dawson’s articles.  Yes, we had a platform for graduate students worldwide to submit their work, but how would we build our name?  How do we get students to believe in this work? More importantly, how do we get students to feel that having their article selected truly meant that they were published authors?


When I was more involved in the creation of the journal, I hadn’t considered the “vistas” of going digital that Dawson mentioned.  For instance, why not expand the criteria of submissions to include visual media?  I know realize there is so much more that the journal can do.

Posted in Assignment, Motivations.

Musicology Journals and the Online world:

I have to admit, I stared at Michael’s access-some-kind-of-online/hybrid-journal-in-your-discipline assignment for quite a while before I summed up the courage to actually go hunting for Musicology journals in the online world, because my gut reaction was that my search was going to yield disappointing results.  And some of the results were a little disappointing, but some were also surprising.

So I would say that many, if not all, of the large, old, well respected journals in Musicology have transfered to some kind of hybrid of print and online publication for their distribution methods. I remember getting an email last year from the American Musicological Society (which is the largest organization for musicological research in “the americas”) saying that they were not going to give people the option of receiving their journal either a) electronically, b) in print, or c) in both mediums, as opposed to the way it had been since the journal was founded – every member got a printed copy of it in the mail four times a year. Oxford University Press, which publishes many of the journals I use on a frequent basis, also has each issue available online, but like the AMS journal and like almost every other music journal that was created by a publishing company before the internet existed, access to the online content is behind some kind of pay wall. For the AMS journal, you need to be a member of the AMS. For the Oxford Journals, you need to subscribe to their journal database. And like most grad students, I access all of these online journal databases through the library website, since the school/library pays the subscription fees. But personally, I don’t really consider this “online publishing” – I think of it more as “online distribution”.  And this was the more “disappointing” aspect of the research.

But as I continued my research, to my delight and surprise, I found a large list of music journals that are open access, and seem to have entirely online/electronic publication models. I found my way to the Directory of Open Access Journals, and searched under “music”, and it spit out a list of 47 different journals,. Interestingly, all of these open access journals are published by specific universities or interest group organizations, with none of them of published by some kind of “official” publishing company. The vast majority of journals in this list have only ever existed online, with the British Postgraduate Musicology Journal being the only one to I could find to exist in print first before switching to an entirely online distribution model (though, I should add, they only printed 3 volumes of the journal before switching to an online platform). It was also nice to see that the list featured journals from outside of the the US, and several journals were published in German (which is the founding-language of musicology, form a historical perspective). And although this journal is very new, I was pleased to see that a sub-committee of the American Musicological Society has begun printing a journal that is entirely online and open access – the Journal of Music History Pedagogy.  The vast majority of the journals were started between 2000-2010, which means that so far, they seem to have some staying power. Just how long they will live is unknown, and whether or not they will diversify their method of online publishing is yet to be seen. But they are stress on their website the rigorous peer-review process every article is subjected to, and they all seem to maintain fairly traditional publication styles – there are “x” amount of issues printed per year, and you can download each issue as a PDF file, and that PDF file strongly resembles what a printed version of the journal might look like.

As a side note: I found no hybrid journal article/blog post publications, and many of the musicological blogs that have sprung up in the past have died either quick, or slow and painful deaths (such as Dial M for Musicology, which had a huge following and lots of activity for about a year, and then fizzled – and in the aftermath, it got a lot of post-mordem attention from other musicological blog-esque writing as the example of why musicology blogs often fail).

Posted in Assignment.

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