e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


the professor as open book

Today the New York Times explores why professors reveal "personal" information online. The article begins:
It is not necessary for a student studying multivariable calculus, medieval literature or Roman archaeology to know that the professor on the podium shoots pool, has donned a bunny costume or can’t get enough of Chaka Khan. Yet professors of all ranks and disciplines are revealing such information on public, national platforms: blogs, Web pages, social networking sites, even campus television.
The Times talks to several blogging and/or social networking professors who mostly discuss how engaging in such technologies gives them a chance to appear more accessible, human, or interesting to undergraduates. Other voices in the piece suggest they are responding to student demands to be more "entertaining."

Unfortunately, nobody talks about writing. Either none of the professors interviewed brought up writing, or the Times chose not to include those particular quotations in the piece. Either way, the ommission was striking. No mention of blogging as an opportunity to WRITE WITH students and colleagues. No mention of how the technologies under review provide the chance to catalogue ideas and information, make connections (personal and intellectual and all points in between), talk back, write-to-discover, and make sense of things, which are all WRITING concerns.

Instead, the piece emphasizes the personal, the notion that professors are "revealing" or "sharing." Not inaccurate, I suppose, but I would have liked to see the verb "writing" in there once or twice.

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