I’m a Recipient of this Year’s Class of 1940 Course Survey Teaching Effectiveness Award!

Recently, I was told that I was a recipient of this year’s Class of 1940 Course Survey Teaching Effectiveness Award from the Georgia Institute of Technology!

The selection criteria for the Class of 1940 Course Survey Teaching Effectiveness Award are: “During the Fall 2012 and/or Spring 2013 semesters, a CIOS [Course-Instructor Opinion Survey] response rate of at least 85%, and either a class size of at least 40 students with a CIOS score for the question which reads, “Overall, this instructor is an effective teacher” of at least 4.8; or a class size of at least 15 students and a CIOS score for the same question of at least 4.9; or a 5 (or greater) credit course with a size of at least 10 and a CIOS score for the same question of at least 4.9.”

I qualified in the middle category, because my classes are typically 25 students/each and 3 credit hours/each.

I am deeply honored to be recognized by my students and institution with this award, and its monetary award is certainly helpful and appreciated.

Georgia Tech’s teaching awards will be given publicly at the upcoming Celebrating Teaching Day on March 6, 2014. I’m looking forward to it!

LMC3403, Technical Communication: Lego, Haptics, and Instructions

Students at work with Lego.

Students at work with Lego.

My LMC3403, Technical Communication students are well into their second unit project on reader-centered and process-driven fundamentals. In a fun assignment, I wanted the students to try out many different types of technical communication deliverables for different readers/audiences. Also, I wanted them to think differently about nonverbal communication with the heavy emphasis on haptics, physicality, and making.

Students at work with Lego.

Students at work with Lego.

In this project, their primary task is to build a set of instructions for a Lego model of their own design.

Their Lego model should represent something about their studies, their professional field, or their entrepreneurial spirit.

Students at work with Lego.

Students at work with Lego.

Their project began with the creation of a proposal memo that laid out their entire project: designing instructions, testing instructions, reporting on tests in a memo, revising instructions, and reflecting on the project in a memo.

Students at work with Lego.

Students at work with Lego.

Throughout the process, they have to be mindful of different audiences (executives, managers, and customers).

In these photos, the students are busy at work creating the first version of their Lego models.

Students at work with Lego.

Students at work with Lego.

I was happy to overhear someone say, “It’s nice to actually do something fun in a class for once!”

Science Fiction, LMC3214 Continues: Definitions of SF Active Learning Exercise and Conclude Frankenstein Tomorrow

For today’s class, I had planned on us spending about half the class on definitions of SF before continuing our discussion of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Happily, nearly all of my students showed up for class today, but this turned the class into one completely devoted to SF definitions.

On the first day of class, we discussed the differences between science fiction (SF) and sci-fi. The students took turns writing examples that they knew on the board along a spectrum from SF (subjectively: the good stuff, significant, more than entertainment) and sci-fi (subjectively: the not-so-good-stuff, less significant, entertainment is primary vector). I wrote about this exercise on Monday here.

Yesterday, some students asked questions that pointed toward better clarification of what science fiction is. I had planned to save that for next week when I introduce the major paper assignment in the class, which involves their working with and formulating definitions of SF. However, it seemed that it might be more useful to give my students something to test SF–including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein–against.

I wanted to do another active learning exercise, but I wanted to have everyone in class contribute to the discussion instead of primarily interacting within their teams (as we did on Tuesday and I wrote about previously). To help them think about a variety of definitions of SF, I pulled 14 definitions from the list on Wikipedia here and created this handout: ellis-jason-science-fiction-definitions. When they came into class, I asked them to sign in on the attendance sheet, but unlike normally, I had numbered where they sign their names. I asked them to remember the number next to where they sign in for attendance. Then, I passed out a handout with the list of definitions numbered from 1 to 13. Each of these entries included the writer’s name, the year of publication, and the definition. These ranged from Hugo Gernsback to Kim Stanley Robinson. Next, I instructed them to read and think about their assigned definition, research the writer and prepare notes on the person to share with the class, and argue why a work of SF that they know is an example (and if possible, a counter example) of that definition. I gave them 15 minutes to conduct their research and formulate their response. Then, we went around the room from 1 to 13 with each student identifying the writer/editor/critic, reading the definition aloud, teaching the class about the person, and explaining their supporting/detracting examples.

While I am glad that everyone in the class had a chance to contribute and draw on their knowledge of SF, I think that the exercise as a whole took longer than I had planned. In the future, I will break the assignment into a few definitions split between teams as I had done with the exercise on Tuesday (researching the Age of Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and Romanticism).

In the last few minutes of class, I briefly recapped some of the important points about Frankenstein that would lead us into a full discussion of Volumes 2 and 3 on Thursday: epistolary novel, narrative frames, and Walton/Frankenstein/Creature as scientists and scientific practitioners.

Mirja Lobnik’s and My Workshop at the Assessing Multimodality: Navigating the Digital Turn Symposium: Multimodality and Perception: A Multi-Sensory Approach to Teaching Rhetorical Skills


Perception and cognition.

This morning, Mirja Lobnik and I will be co-hosting a workshop on “Multimodality and Perception: A Multi-Sensory Approach to Teaching Rhetorical Skills” at the Assessing Multimodality: Navigating the Digital Turn Symposium co-hosted by Georgia Tech’s Writing and Communication Program and Bedford St. Martin’s. Our workshop is about multisensory perception, multimodal composition, and cognition:

Associated with the use of various media to create cohesive rhetorical artifacts and the neurology of the ways humans process information through different sensory channels, multimodality has gained considerable ground in the composition classroom. Insofar as multimodal pedagogies emphasize the role of students as active, resourceful, and creative meaning-makers, it tends to enhance student engagement and, by extension, the teaching of composition and rhetorical skills. Focusing on sensory details of embodied, lived experience, this workshop centers on teaching that engages students both in mind and body. This approach not only promotes the students’ creation of multimodal artifacts but also encourages students to explore and critically reflect on personal experiences. Specifically, Lobnik focuses on aural composing modalities, including speech, music, and sound, and assignments that highlight sound as a rhetorical and creative resource: a transcription, audio essay, and a video. Ellis discusses cognition, metacognition, and curation and an assignment that integrates Twitter, Storify, ComicLife, and the written essay.

If you get to attend our workshop or the symposium’s other great sessions, please tweet using the hashtag: #AMsymposium.

Register Now for My Science Fiction Class at Georgia Tech, LMC 3214, SS Summer Session 2013

Hallway poster for my first Science Fiction class.

Hallway poster for my first Science Fiction class. Photo of the Alien xenomorph captured at Seattle’s fantastic EMP Museum.

This summer, I will teach Georgia Tech’s Science Fiction class (LMC 3214). If you are a Tech student, you can take this class for Humanities credit. Read below for further details about the history of this class and specific information about registering for it.

Professor Bud Foote introduced Science Fiction to Tech some decades ago. When I first entered Tech, I wanted to take Professor Foote’s class, but it was always full before I had an opportunity to register for it. He and his class were insanely popular. After Bud’s retirement and passing away, Professor Lisa Yaszek and other faculty members continued to teach the history and cultural importance of SF to eager Tech students.

In 2004, I took Professor Yaszek’s Science Fiction class, which played a signifiant role in shaping my career path to this point as an educator at Tech. I am extremely happy to be a part of that tradition now with my own SF class.

My Science Fiction class, LMC 3214 SS2 (CRN: 56435) will be offered during the second short summer session on MTWR 9:20am-11:20am. Read below for my class description. Please note that this will be a reading-intensive class (primarily short stories with at least one novel), but there will be other media involved, including: TV shows, movies, and video games.

LMC3214 Science Fiction Ellis, J. (BF) SS2 MTWR 9:20-11:20am Skiles 368

This class will introduce you to science fiction (SF) and guide you toward a deeper appreciation of the genre’s historical development, cultural context, and technoscientific relevance. You will be given the opportunity to read, see, and experience a range of SF across different media, including novels, short stories, films, television shows, and video games, that share a common theme of “brains, minds, and computers.” While significant, this theme will lead our discussions toward other important themes in SF. In addition to these examples of the genre, you will learn about its origins and definitions, explore its mega-text of shared terminology, and develop a critical awareness of SF’s commentaries on the here-and-now veiled in future extrapolations and alternative realities. Students are expected to keep up with the extensive list of readings and to take part in discussion, active learning exercises, and presentations.

Second hallway poster for my Science Fiction class at Georgia Tech.

Second hallway poster for my Science Fiction class at Georgia Tech. Image taken from Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

Down and Dirty Guide to Literary Research with Digital Humanities Tools: Text Mining Basics

2010-10-05 - IMG_2791

Miao and Jason get things done with computers!

As part of the final Digital Pedagogy seminar of fall 2012, Margaret Konkol, Patrick McHenry, Olga Menagarishvili, and I will lead the discussion on “trends in the digital humanities.” You can find out more about our readings and other DH resources by reading our TECHStyle post here.

As part of my contribution to the seminar, I will give a demo titled, “Down and Dirty Guide to Literary Research with Digital Humanities Tools: Text Mining Basics.” In my presentation, I will show how traditional literary scholars can employ computers, cameras, and software to enhance their research.

To supplement my presentation, I created the following outline with links to useful resources.

Down and Dirty Guide to Literary Research with Digital Humanities Tools: Text Mining Basics

  1. Text Analysis and Text Mining
    1. My working definition of text mining: “Studying texts with computers and software to uncover new patterns, overlooked connections, and deeper meaning.”
    2. What is Text Analysis: Electronic Texts and Text Analysis by Geoffrey Rockwell and Ian Lancashire
    3. Text mining on Wikipedia
    4. Text Mining as a Research Tool by Ryan Shaw (an excellent resource with a presentation and links to more useful material on and offline)
  2. Advantages to Digital Research Materials
    1. Ask Interesting Questions That Would Otherwise Be Too Difficult or Time Consuming to Ask
    2. Efficiency
    3. Thoroughness
    4. Find New Patterns
    5. Develop Greater Insight
  3. Types of Digital Research Materials
    1. Your Notes
    2. eBooks
    3. eJournals
  4. Digitizing Your Own Research Materials
    1. What to Digitize
      1. Primary Sources
      2. Secondary Sources
    2. How to Digitize
      1. Acquire
        1. Camera > high resolution JPG
        2. Scanner > high resolution TIFF or JPG
      2. Collate as PDF
        1. Adobe Acrobat X Pro (now XI!)
        2. PDFCreator
        3. Mac OS X Preview
      3. Perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to generate machine readable/searchable plain text
        1. Adobe Acrobat X Pro
          1. Print PDF to a letter size PDF
          2. Tool > Recognize Text
        2. DevonThink
        3. Use Google
        4. Others?
      4. Save As/Export plain text > .txt files
      5. Engage the “Text” in New Ways
        1. New Ways of Seeing “Texts”
          1. Keyword Search
          2. Line Search
          3. Word Counts
          4. Concordance
          5. Patterns
        2. Tools to Help with Seeing “Texts”
          1. AntConc
          2. BBEdit (“It doesn’t suck” ®)
          3. MacOS X and Linux: cat, find, grep, and print (use “man cat” and “man grep” to learn more from the Terminal. More info herehere, here, here, and here.)
          4. DevonThink
          5. Notepad++
          6. Mac OS X Spotlight/Windows 7 Search
          7. TextEdit
          8. Others?

Miao awaits digitization.

My Georgia Tech ENGL 1102 Class Description and Reading List for Spring 2012, “The Promise and Peril of the Digital Age Explored Through Science Fiction”

Martin Widmer’s “Tomb [V’]” (2007).

[UPDATE: I volunteered to teach three sections of ENGL1101 instead of three sections of ENGL1102 when the school made the request. This gives me an opportunity to immediately revise my ENGL1101 syllabus and try new things with my students!] In Spring 2013, I will be teaching three sections of ENGL 1102 (sections: P1, E, and M). For these sections, I will guide students toward completing and exceeding the desired educational outcomes with a class structured on the them, “The Promise and Peril of the Digital Age Explored Through Science Fiction.”

Building on the rhetorical strategies and WOVEN modalities introduced in ENGL1101, this class further develops students’ communicative and critical thinking abilities by guiding students through challenging research-based projects. The research focus of this class is on the promise and peril of the contemporary digital age. Science fiction is a uniquely suited genre for considering the digital age, because it is the only literature that is firmly situated at the intersection of science, technology, and culture. Furthermore, science fiction is a literature about the present in which it is written rather than its imagined future. With this in mind, recent science fictions comment on our present and our near future in simultaneously promising and troubling ways. Drawing on science fiction across multiple media (including novels, films, and video games) and using newly acquired tools of critical theory from cultural studies and the study of science and technology, students will develop a number of research-based projects individually and collaboratively that explore how science fiction informs and critiques the on-going digital age. All of these projects will culminate in or include a digital component (e.g., blog posts, Twitter essays, Storify curations, online videos, and Omeka archives). Also, students will learn how to use digital humanities technologies to inform their thinking and research.

Reading List:

Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood, Anchor, 2004, 978-0385721677

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline, Broadway, 2012, 978-0307887443

Neuromancer, William Gibson, Ace, 2000, 978-0441007462

River of Gods, Ian McDonald, Pyr, 2007, 978-1591025955

Rainbows End, Vernor Vinge, Tor, 2007, 978-0812536362

Online reading:

Little Brother, Cory Doctorow [available here]

Game List:

CYPHER: Cyberpunk Text Adventure [available here]

I am still developing the class syllabus and assignments. When these are completed, I will post copies in a subsequent post.

Prepping MacBook for Digital Pedagogy Seminar

I’m prepping my MacBook for this evening’s Brittain Fellow Digital Pedagogy seminar. As you can see above, we are going to be running simultaneous backchannels–one on Twitter and one on TodaysMeet.com. Besides looking at how these technologies work, we will do other things with the words that we write with Wordle and Storify. Details of the meeting including readings and technologies are available on TechStyle here. I will see my fellow Britts in Skiles 302 shortly.


Spotted on Slashdot: A Silicon Valley School That Doesnt Use Computers

Slashdot linked to this New York Times article about the Waldorf school in Silicon Valley. It is a school that rejects the idea that students learn better or should learn at all with computers. Personally, I think that a measured approach to technology in K-12 is better than an all-in approach. The Waldorf school apparently takes an all-out approach. You might find the comments on Slashdot interesting here: A Silicon Valley School That Doesnt Use Computers – Slashdot.

Teaching Portfolios and Reflection

It is essential to regularly reflect on teaching, and I do this after every class that I teach. When a course is over and I receive my student Student Surveys of Instruction, I begin another round of reflection. It is at this point, beyond the feedback that I get from students during the class that is usually favorable, that I receive the feedback that some students may be unsure about sharing. I am happy that my current college writing students are not so shy, but I am critiquing my college writing II class from Fall 2010 as a result of the no-holds barred comments that I received from students. This is a constructive process, because I want to make my classes as successful and engaging as possible for my future students. It is unfortunate that I only hear some of these complaints now, after the fact, but it is worthwhile that student voices can be included in the reflective process of their teachers.

Along with this process of reflection and reviewing student comments, I am also putting together the most thorough teaching portfolio that I have ever done. I have the beginnings of a teaching portfolio from past exercises and most recently from putting together a packet for the Midwestern Association of Graduate School’s Excellence in Teaching Award. In the packet that I am assembling now, I am thinking about and justifying certain elements of my portfolio. I am working through the rationalizations and results of particular choices that I have made as a composition instructor at Kent State. This is all very useful work for my development as a teacher, and it is giving me additional ideas about how to conclude my current college writing class and expand my future college writing classes.