Faculty Blog Round-Up: PowerPoint

Among academic bloggers, yet another battle is raging in the PowerPoint wars.

Margaret Soltan, English professor and the venerable curmudgeon of University Diaries, links to a student’s blog to show how PowerPoint enables and encourages shoddy teaching.

Fellow English professor Alan Jacobs agrees, pointing to students’ sense of entitlement that results from PowerPoint.

Jonathan Rees, professor of history, puts the blame for bad presentations on textbook publishers.

Historian Timothy Burke defends the judicious use of PowerPoint, with suggestions for using it well.

Chad Orzel, a physicist, ponders how best to use PowerPoint, for both in-class lectures and later review.

Physicist Julianne Dalcanton offers a neat tip to solve Chad’s dilemma.

And English professor Scott Eric Kaufman lightheartedly warns of the dangers of putting students in charge of PowerPoint.

What are the benefits and pitfalls of using PowerPoint for library instruction?  How can you integrate it with other presentation tools?

Faculty Blog Round-Up: Budget Cuts

Belts are a lot tighter this academic year, and faculty have widely ranging diagnoses and cures for the crisis.

Historiann (a.k.a Ann M. Little, historian at Colorada State) discusses the offer of UNC emeritus faculty to teach for free during the budget crisis, and the administration’s refusal.  There’s a lively but polite debate in the comments here about whether this is insulting to the retired faculty or protective of the value of academic labor.

Dance, an anonymous humanities professor at a public university, points out that it’s not really faculty salaries that are driving the budget crisis anyway.

This is why so many faculty turn their frustration on administrators.  Ari Kelman, historian at UC Davis, is particularly annoyed at UC President Mark Yudof and his interview in the New York Times.

Claire Potter of Wesleyan, writing as Tenured Radical, takes a more sympathetic stance towards university administrators and the cuts they have to make.

The ever-moderate Timothy Burke of Swarthmore offers a framework for thinking through these debates – how can we fairly weigh the value of different academic courses and departments?

Finally, the pseudonymous Shakespearean Bardiac encourages faculty to use the crisis as a way to re-imagine the future of their disciplines and universities.

Is impact of the recession on your institution something that you’re responding to together, as an institution, or department by department? What cuts to your library budget have faculty noticed, and how have they responded?

PS – For fun, check out Crooked Timber’s list of classics re-titled as contemporary best-sellers.  The hilarity continues in the comments.

Faculty Blog Round-Up: Writing Books

At the peak of summer, many faculty are in deep research mode, especially with longer projects, like books, that require the kind of travel or in-depth work they can’t schedule during the semester.  Here’s an overview of the book-writing process from the inside

Dr. Crazy, an anonymous literature professor, is beginning to ponder her topic.

Anthropologist Auto Ethnographer is in the throes of research – research that goes to show why sometimes we just need the original print texts.

Flavia, an anonymous professor of renaissance literature, is substantially revising her dissertation – and has come to some interesting realizations about her book-in-progress.  Check out the comments here, too.

Notorious Ph.D., a historian, is revising and ambivalent about her readers’ feedback.

Finally, John Holbo, a philosopher at National University in Singapore, has just published a book on Plato (with translation by Belle Waring).  This post is interesting for two reasons: it’s an experiment in simultaneous free e-publishing with a print book for sale, as well as reminding us how the scholarly conversation doesn’t end with the book’s publication.

Faculty Blog Round Up: The Mark Taylor Op-Ed

It’s been over a month, and the faculty blogosphere is still buzzing about Mark Taylor’s New York Times editorial “End the University as We Know It.”  That’s not too surprising, since Taylor called for, among other changes, abolishing both departments and tenure.  ACRLog blogger Scott Walter linked to the editorial here right after it was published, but I’d like to highlight some faculty reactions now that bloggers have had a chance to mull it over.

Michael Berube, a literature professor at Penn State, points out at Crooked Timber that it’s one thing to complain about the bureaucracy of departments, but the intellectual rigor of disciplines is a virtue, and Taylor is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Timothy Burke, a history professor at Swarthmore, blogs at Easily Distracted about the need for either some concrete, implementable plans, or a more tentative tone.

And a new group blog in queer studies, the Bully Bloggers, has a series of posts taking issue with the market-based measures Taylor adopts: Jack Halberstam, Eng-Beng Lim, Miranda Joseph, Brian Eugenio Herrera, and Lisa Duggan all participate in this critical dialog.

Jose Marichal, political scientist at California Lutheran, takes a more sympathetic stance towards Taylor, comparing his vision of conceptual problem-focused studies to Web 2.0.

Religion scholar Brad Johnson writes as a colleague of Taylor’s, reading beyond the text of the op-ed to argue (implicitly counter to Berube) that specializations would still thrive in the kind of complex system envisioned by Taylor.

Finally, Peter Levine, philosopher and director of Tufts’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, imagines a college curriculum set up along Taylorist lines with a focus on civic engagment.

Could we create a library for a university as Taylor envisions it?  What about mandatory retirement for librarians?  Are we prepared to catalog and preserve non-traditional dissertations?  How would you develop a collection for cluster of conceptually-based inquiries that shift every seven years?

Faculty Blog Round-Up: The Publishing Cycle

Over at Edge of the American West, UC Irvine English professor Scott Eric Kaufman has a bit of a rant about both the delay and format of the January issue of the journal of the Modern Language Association.

Cheer up, SEK; it could be worse.  The anonymous Lumpenprofessoriat tells a tale of woe, with an eventual happy ending, about a much longer submission-to-print process.

On the other hand, Eszter Hargittai, currently a Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center, writes at Crooked Timber about “Peer Review at Record Speed” – refuting the Facebook-grades correlation in a peer reviewed, open access publication in just a couple of weeks.

The enormous variation in these stories complicates everything we do, from collection development to instruction to supporting scholarly communications.  The need for speed, especially among those on the tenure-track, might be an untapped reservoir of support for open access online publishing. 

PS – Just in case you were feeling under-appreciated, see why mathematician Rudbeckia Hirta will never leave the academy. 

Enjoy the holiday weekend!