This is going to be another confessional post, since most of my energies have been directed toward keeping my 1771 course afloat (about which more later), along with hosting a big family event that had people from all over the country joining us in Houston.
First of all, about the 1771 class. It’s going, all right, but I feel that the university’s problems with identifying and registering advanced students have really screwed me over this term. For one segment, this course was simply an open class that they could sign up for when others were closed. The prerequisites for registration somehow disappeared during the enrollment period, and this group, now registered but barely doing the work or showing up, have become a real drag on the class. And the blog discussions that were supposed to take on the role of quizzes etc. have been a failure, too. Only a few have had the self-confidence to post stuff, though it’s going to figure into their grade if they don’t. I’ve been thinking about reinstituting quizzes and in-class midterms to get them more focused, but this takes time away from the other stuff I planned. I’ve got some good people there, but overall I wish I could have a redo on the group I ended up with this term.
On a less self-pitying note, I gave a talk on campus about blogs and teaching at a faculty technology showcase with two of our English grad students. This panel seemed to go fine, and was surprisingly well-attended, even though we had no fancy 3D simulation classrooms or teacher/student avatars. The most interesting observation was that blogging is not in any way a natural or familiar practice for our undergrads, who are obsessed with Facebook, YouTube, and texting each other inscrutable anagrams.
Finally, the best news this term hasn’t really involved me at all. It looks like our department completed two good hires in Rhet/Comp and one in Contemporary Poetry this year, and the people coming aboard (cross your fingers) look like they will be terrific colleagues. In a department like ours, which has a relatively small faculty for large numbers of students, these people will make a difference. So I’m feeling relieved that this happened while I was complaining about other things.