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August 21, 2013

Author cancels book launch after awful GoodReads bullying

More here. TwitLonger — When you talk too much for Twitter
For those who want to understand what's happening with my book & Goodreads. Long story short, I didn't understand the rating system on Goodreads and was confused how someone who didn't have my book had rated it 2 stars. My book is yet unreleased and this person did not have an advance copy. I asked about this on a Goodreads message board and it was explained to me that people can rate as a way of expressing their interest in the book. I was all too happy to move on then. However, I was then attacked by people for asking that question. People started to rate 1-star to prove "we can rate whatever the hell we want." My book was added to shelves named 'author should be sodomized' and 'should be raped in prison' and other violent offensive things, all for asking a simple question as a newcomer to the website. Goodreads can't do anything, because they allow this behaviour. No seriously, it is highlighted in their ACTUAL RULES that this behaviour is acceptable. Apparently readers can get as offensive and bully as much as they want because it's their freedom of speech. My book rating is subsequently taking a serious hit and my book isn't even released. It's incredibly upsetting and disheartening that I'm being targeted for asking an innocent question. I've contacted Goodreads directly and nothing has been done because, again, this is acceptable behaviour. To make matters worse, I now have to ask one of the very same people who left abusive comments to delete my book because of things they and their friends have done. It's so very wrong and rest assured I will be paying NO attention to Goodreads once all of this is sorted out.

August 03, 2013

How to Move a Chandler and Price Printing Press

These are instructions I just wrote for a friend who...

July 31, 2013

Noam Chomsky and a "Journalist" Walk into a Bar . . .

I continue to write a monthly column for the Ann...

July 26, 2013

MOOCs could be disastrous for students and professors

MOOCs serve a few purposes: they make tons of money for the schools that offer them; they let wealthy techies who would never dream of putting their kids through a program feel like they are helping The Poors; and they give the education "reform" movement another way to destroy unions. What they don't do is actually teach students anything. MOOCs could be disastrous for students and professors. - Slate Magazine
MOOC stands for “massive open online course.” The term was coined by a group of Canadian academics in 2008 to represent a recently invented type of online class that depends upon small group interactions for most of the instruction. More recently, three instructors in the Stanford University computer science department appropriated that term to start two separate private education companies, Udacity and Coursera. Despite being free of charge, the MOOCs that these firms offer bear a more-than-passing resemblance to ordinary college classes—except they are delivered over the Internet to tens of thousands of people at once. How do you teach tens of thousands of people anything at once? You don't. What you can do over the Internet this way is deliver information, but that's not education. Education, as any real teacher will tell you, involves more than just transmitting facts. It means teaching students what to do with those facts, as well as the skills they need to go out and learn new information themselves. But the most common way to assess learning in the MOOCs offered by the largest providers is a single multiple-choice question after approximately five-minute chunks of pre-taped lectures. If I had told my tenure committee that I taught history this way, I'd be in another line of work right now. Anyone who has the slightest interest or expertise in education would never teach this way, even if they were paid to do so. Despite the obvious problems with assessment, some of the best-known faculty at big-name universities across the United States and around the world have decided to become “superprofessors,” the people whose names are attached to these MOOCs because they do most of the lecturing. While very few of them have publicly discussed the compensation that they may or may not receive for their services, my guess would be that most superprofessors became superprofessors because the chance to become higher-education rock stars got the best of them, as the ones willing to talk publicly about compensation are making little or nothing. Unfortunately for everyone else in academia, their fame will likely come at a very steep price. From an administrative standpoint, the beauty of MOOCs is that they provide an easy opportunity to drastically cut labor costs by firing existing faculty members or simply hiring poorly trained ones—whom they won't have to pay well—to help administer the class. After all, this way of thinking goes, why should I hire a new Ph.D. when I can get the best professors in the world piped into my university's classrooms?