Monthly Archives: March 2014

OER the hills and far away

OER (Open Educational Resources) are “digitized materials offered openly and freely to educators, students, and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning, and research.”1 Referring to the openness of open educational resources, John Hilton [et al] has written that

“the ‘open’ in open educational resources is not a simple binary concept; rather, the construct of openness is rich and multi-dimensional. To use an analogy, openness is not like a light switch that is either ‘on’ or ‘off.’ Rather it is like a dimmer switch, with varying degrees of openness.”2

It seems to me that one important aspect of defining what is meant by “openness” is to consider how easy the OER is to locate.  Discoverability of an OER is thus an important consideration as to how genuinely open it really is. In order for OER to be reused it is necessary for them to be found. If an OER cannot be discovered, from a practical perspective it might as well be closed behind an institutional firewall.

Along similar lines, as Peter Suber points out in his Oct. 2013 Guardian article “Open Access: Six Myths Put to Rest,” there seems to be quite a bit of confusion in academia as to what open access does and doesn’t mean, and how it does and does not function. The difference between journal-delivered “gold” open access and repository “green” open access, for example, needs to be clarified and publicized in a clear way. Authors of scholarly articles, regardless of discipline, need to learn that their work can most likely be shared via green open access repository, even if the  work initially appears in a conventional academic journal. I doubt that most scholars want their work to  languish unread on remote library shelves and behind firewalls. If more people in the academic world knew what their publishing options actually were, and that rendering their work accessible is often an author-initiated choice, surely more of them would opt to open their scholarship to a potentially wider audience. Right?

1Bissell, Ahrash. “Permission Granted: Open Licensing for Educational Resources.” Open Learning, The Journal of Open and Distance Learning, vol. 24. 2009.

2 Hilton, J., Wiley, D., Stein, J., Johnson. “The Four R’s of Openness and ALMS Analysis: Frameworks for Open Educational Resources.” Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning, vol. 25. 2010.

(Digital) Culture Industry

As an undergraduate, I wrote a paper with the same title as this post on Benjamin’s revolutionary vision of mechanical reproduction and Adorno’s grim outlook in his Culture Industry and tried to apply it to the up and coming digital age.  I focused mostly on music production and sharing, but I find it extremely interesting how well it applies to this particular case of digital scholarship and publishing.  Dawson’s account of the revolutionary potential of OA and online publishing/scholarship mixed with her fear of hegemonic control of said technology and potential is reminiscent of this age old power struggle.  As with anything dangerous or possibly threatening to the hegemony, often the ruling powers assimilate and control and/or ostracize and destroy, which they clearly are trying to do with digital revolutions and the like.  However, where I think Benjamin might have been over zealous with mechanical production, digital technology rears revolution back to the forefront of society because the means of production and distribution cannot be controlled.  This to me is the key for successful restructuring of society.  As we are seeing with the music industry, I believe the same can be executed in scholarship and publishing.

My question for you guys, I guess, is:

There will always be a struggle between the scholar, the institution, and those at the top, so will all of this potential be swallowed by capitalist measures and assimilated and controlled or could this digital age actually usher new potential for distinct and definite positive change?

Miriam Posner Talk on “How Did They Make That?”

Hi everyone, you may have already seen this but just in case not: Miriam Posner will be speaking this Thursday 3/27 at 6:30pm at the Grad Center on reverse engineering digital projects, sponsored by the Digital Humanities Initiative. If you enjoyed the blog post of hers that we read earlier this semester, I’m sure the talk will be great. Note that you’ll need to register for the talk — more info and the registration link is here:

Is Blogging “safe”?

While working through this week’s reading I found myself continually asking the same two questions:  Is blogging an effective means of conducting academic discourse and spurring students’ curiosity in the subject? And, Is blogging “safe” in an academic environment?

The answer to the first question seems to be clearly argued as these authors explicate their own experiences using blogs and wikis to enhance the classroom environment. What I like about blogs is their ability to create a learning environment in line with Jacques Ranciere’s notion of the “ignorant school master,” in which the instructor creates the learning environment and empowers the student to actively participate in the construction of her own knowledge. While the readings argue for the effectiveness of these tools, they do not go far enough to provide the reader with a clear understanding of what is necessary to construct an effective educational blogging environment. For example, what kind of prompts are given? These concrete details would be helpful for an instructor who has never incorporated these types of digital technology in the classroom.

When I ask this second question, “Is blogging safe?” I am not so much concerned with social safety concerns such as students publishing their work on public blogs. This concern can easily be addressed, as Alex Halavais points out, through the use of pseudonyms. my concern for safety is a much more fundamental, psycho-physical concern.

In his book Program or Be Programed, Douglas Rushkoff provides a set of commandments for the digital age. HIs first command, “Do not always be on,” points out the dangerous impact constant connection can have on the human nervous system. This point makes me question Mushon Zer-Aviv’s assertion that the collaborative class blog was beneficial because it “extends the course beyond the time and space constraints of the classroom as students publish and comment every day, around the clock.” Is this constant connection to the course healthy or even desirable?

Blogging: Is it Practical/Possible in Intro-Level Courses?

Identifying myself as one of those graduate instructors that fails to effectively use technology within the classroom (beyond my inconsistent, in-class computer-projection set-up), I’ve been trying to determine the appropriate tools and methods in which I can engage 170 students at 8am two days a week. This week’s readings mostly outlined how blogs can be used to increase student engagement both in and out of class, a skill that many of us (definitely including myself) will need to more fully develop if we hope to continue teaching.

In the Halavais article, he highlights how online spaces can effectively use students’ fear of embarrassment as motivators for “better work” via blogs. This is genius! By opening the blogging space to the public, students may also improve the quality of the work they post. I loved the idea behind this, but also wondered whether students might simply fail to post in fear of critique. Perhaps if students were allowed to use pseudonyms (as suggested in the article) they may feel more liberated to post their controversial opinions in a public space.

Mushon Zer-Aviv describes the blog as a central/core feature of the course. I wanted to ask the author, what this class structure would actually look like in a syllabus. I’m not sure whether the Psych Department at Hunter even be okay with an open-access blog, but this reading inspired me to explore this possibility. I also kept thinking, in regards to my mostly freshman students, how do I scaffold the blogging process? Blogging is by all means a skill, but how do you teach it and how much time does it take to teach?

While I generally enjoyed the accessibility of the readings this week, I still felt as though they didn’t thoroughly describe practical approaches to the assessment of blogs. Halavais discusses his technique for assessing blog posts via Google Reader as a way to quickly skim the posts. This sounds doable for a smaller course, but for those of us teaching 100+ students, it seems that this process of skimming could take days. This is especially true if our students have never blogged, since they’ll tend to write more. For those of you that have used blogs, how do you efficiently assess students’ posts? Have any of you used a peer grading system, and if so, was it effective in saving you time?

Silvana’s Two Project Ideas

Project 1: Interactive Course Website


Students are seldom asked to critique how textbooks are written.  Although they may have opinions about the inaccessibility of the texts they are asked to read, they are rarely asked to contribute in making those texts more accessible and student friendly.  In addition, some students understand better than others how to successfully retain the information presented to them.  However, students do not have the opportunity to learn from each other what works and what does not unless they ask each other.  And I’m assuming they do not. 

This project would consist of a website for which only the course’s students and the instructor (me) would have access.  The site will be hidden to non-members and will be password protected.  I will write the course information, broken down by topics, and searchable.  Each topic will also include links to relevant youtube videos to add to the accessibility of the information covered.  Students will have the opportunity to comment on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis.  The nature of their contributions will be the following:  They can suggest clearer ways of wording the content; they can describe what helps them remember the content (tricks, mnemonic devices, etc.); they can suggest additional helpful video clips; or anything else they think would be helpful.

Besides requiring students to engage with the material in more meaningful ways than just memorizing it, students will be aiding in the creation of something.  At the end of the semester, the website will be better and more complete than at the beginning.  This should, hopefully, give them a sense of having contributed to the world of knowledge – something I think students are not asked to do often enough.


Anna is from Jamaica.  She is 52 years old and afraid of technology.  She does not have an email account, nor does she know how to go about creating one.  She decided to go back to school now that her children are married and out of the house.  She is slightly uncomfortable being the oldest person in the class, but she takes comfort in the realization that there are others in the class who are also older students.  Although Anna is very proud of herself for going back to school, her biggest weakness is believing that everyone else knows things she does not. 

Chris is combative.  He is 22 years old and wants to do the least amount of work possible.  He thinks learning is for nerds and he sees his education as a means to an end.  He believes the world would be better if we were allowed to do what we wanted without having to follow the rules someone else made up.  He’s got a chip on his shoulder and frequently makes offensive and disruptive comments in class.

Aviva is an eager student.  She is 19 years old and identifies as a conscientious worker and learner.  Whenever a question is asked in class, she is the first to raise her hand.  She is never absent and prides herself on getting the highest grades possible.  When she earns a 97 on a test, she is upset about the 3 points she didn’t get. 

Use Case

Users will find the website only by being told about it and being invited to join.  They will receive very detailed written instructions on how to create an account that allows them to comment on the site’s content, and on how to leave those comments.  In addition, a computer lab will be used during one class meeting to give students the opportunity to try leaving comments, while being able to ask questions and raise concerns.

Scaled up version

The website will be created on WordPress and will include plugins for security and password protection.  Students will be able to create profiles through the use of BuddyPress.  Users will have the ability to leave comments on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis through the use of, or any other plugin that may be found between now and implementation that allows for annotation of content.  There will also be a blogging area, where students can share relevant information (e.g., upcoming meetings, study groups, etc.). 

Once the site is created and I am confident that the security is up to snuff, I imagine the longest amount of time will be devoted to the writing of the content.  The creation of the website, and its various plugins, will likely take several weeks.  The writing of the content, which will be written using various textbooks and websites, will take no less than 3 months.  Once the content is up, the process of allowing students to contribute to the site will take a full semester. 

I currently have a working knowledge of WordPress but am not nearly familiar enough with BuddyPress or to claim competency.  I will also need to familiarize myself with the necessary security plugins to ensure the site cannot be accessed by anyone who has not be invited. 

Time to completion: 5 months

Scaled down version

The website would still be created on WordPress and include plugins for security and password protection.  However, students would not create profiles or have the blogging capacity – they would only comment on the content.  The content would also be considerably scaled down.  Perhaps only certain topics could be covered on the site, as opposed to all of the class material.  This scaled down version could be a pilot of the scaled up version.  Perhaps it would only run for the first half of the semester and students could give feedback about whether they found it useful.

Time to completion:  3 months

Project 2:  Competitive Course Quiz Game


 For many students, learning has become rote and boring.  Injecting some fun and competition may be incentives to learning the material.  This project would be a either a phone or web-based app that allows students to play against each other.  Once they create an account, they can challenge another student or play against another student who has challenged them.  If beginning a challenge, they can choose the topic that the questions will cover.  Each question answered correctly earns points. Answering the question faster earns more points.  As students win more challenges, they move up in levels.  For example, a student could be Level 1 in “learning theories” and a Level 15 in “classical conditioning” based on how many challenges they won. 


Amy is 18 and not very engaged school.  She is going to college because that is what her family expects of her.   Amy is very competitive and does not like to lose no matter what the game is.  She is the youngest of 4 and has 3 older brothers.  Growing up in an Irish-American family was always fun and loud.  She got her competitive attitude from growing up with her 3 competitive brothers.

Anthony is absent a lot.  He often has to take care of his younger sister when the babysitter cancels.  Although he takes school seriously, he cannot devote as much time to it as he’d like.  He sometimes gets his reading done on the train.  Sometimes he does his homework on his phone.  He wishes material was easier to learn so that he wouldn’t feel like there was never enough time to do anything fun.

Carole is 21 and does not like to hurt anyone’s feelings.  She always preferred solitary games, such as crossword puzzles or Sudoku.  She finds little pleasure in winning because it means someone else has lost.  She is very conscientious and is always the first to hand work in when it is due.  

Scaled up version

The quiz app will be iphone, android, and windows compatible.  Users will create an account, along with a profile, and be able to sign in and play either on their phones or on a computer.  Users will also be able to contribute questions to be used in others’ games.  The app/site will keep track of users’ progress.  The site/app may be built using quizlet or some other quiz-making platform.  Because students will create profiles, it will only be made available to the students of the course so that they can play against each other only, and to ensure security. 

It will take about a month to try out different app/site building platforms that allow account users to play against each other.  Once the platform is found, it will take a few weeks to create the questions and test that the app/site is working smoothly.  If all goes well, the site should be up and running within two months and ready to be used in a course, either for studying purposes, or to gain extra points on the final grade (e.g., reaching level 20 = 3 points on overall grade). 

I have no working knowledge of any of the necessary platforms.  Getting a handle on which ones offer what I want, and then learning to use it is going to be the biggest hurdle.  Making up questions is going to be the easiest and quickest part.

Time to completion:  3 months

Scaled down version

Students will use quizlet, or some similar site, to play against each other.  The games will only be available on a computer, not on a mobile device.  Each student will need to create an account and I will monitor their progress. Because the site will not also be a phone app, this should cut down on the amount of time needed to get it up and running.  Students’ accounts will not have profiles attached to them, so the need for security will not be as high. 

Time to completion: 1.5 months


Adam’s 2 project proposals

Sorry for the late post, I was working til almost 4am last night and woke up a little later than I planned.  See you all in a few hours.



As a subject, philosophy has always been contextual.  The seminal works of philosophy are perpetually situated in a time and a place, with a particular historical foundation, and those elements are essential for understanding the theories and postulations of a particular work.  However, without a proper training in philosophy, it can be hard to keep a clear conception of context and history when reading and studying.  Therefore, Atlastotle aims to create an interactive world map that can move through the different centuries and essential periods of philosophy, while allowing the user to scroll over different highlighted regions to view a list of seminal authors of said region at said time, while also linking to certain important texts and theories of each author.  Incorporated into each author’s pop up will be a brief synopsis of the philosopher’s contributions and theories, as well as, a short list of historical connections to previous authors.


Phil O. Sophy – A second year college student who is focusing on his Bachelor’s in philosophy, Phil is extremely interested in the subject but has a hard time keeping up with the wealth of information available and isn’t sure where to start or where to continue in his studies.

Dr. Vitz – A professor in Modern Philosophy, Dr. Vitz attempts to teach the era of philosophy keeping a chronological and historical context to illustrate how each theory builds off another (either by adding to or critiquing particulars).

Existential Emily – A high school student who is trying to find her place.  She got her hands on a copy of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and has a budding interest in Nietzsche but wants to learn more.


Phil stumbled upon this map online searching for philosophy and was able to obtain a good sense of the history of the subject and the context for particular disciplines.  From here, Phil was able to find his favorite authors, discover others in that discipline and connect to authors involved in that conversation during that era.  Dr. Vitz uses this tool as a reference resource to follow along the chronological and historical course so that his students can keep the era organized throughout the semester.  Existential Emily searched Nietzsche and came across the map which took her through a journey as she is now exploring a degree in philosophy after high school.

Full Version and Time Expectations

The full version would use a mapping platform such as ArcGIS or CartoDB.  These tools already have pop up abilities and some java included in the application, however, to customize this to my specific needs would require a lot of extra java.  I would like to partner with an organization such as Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to help manage the content.

I feel this project would require a significant amount of time and effort. I am studying mapping resources currently for a project I am on and I feel if this were to be realized, I wouldn’t need much time on that.  However, with that said, the javascript needed to build the popups and such would take time.  The real time constraint for the project involves the organization and research.  Because philosophy is such an extensive subject, a lot of time and effort would go into organizing the content to decipher who would be included and what content to be highlighted.  Depending on support from outside sources, I feel this project could be completed in a year.  Organizing the content would require at least ¾ of the project, while the actual building of the tool could be completed in ¼ of the time.

Stripped Down Version and Time Expectations

A stripped down version of this tool would be one era of philosophy mapped without the links to other philosophers.  This would get at the spirit of the project and allow people to see the importance this tool provides without the time it takes to organize an entire subject.  This would also provide the experience needed to expand the map in a much quicker fashion, technically.  I could accomplish this task in 4-6 months given the technical skills needed to complete the map.




Teachers can help each other in so many ways.  With the connectivity of technology increasing, I propose a social media style site for teachers to share tips, teaching suggestions, and anecdotes.  It could easily be organized into categories and tags by department, subjects, grade, and/or region.  Teachers would sign up using school assigned email addresses and could connect with thousands of other teachers to collaborate and ultimately raise the bar in pedagogy.  Threads and forums could be archived as a resource and added to at later dates.  Based on an environmental scan, there are sites dedicated to teacher blogs and certain forum sites that involve teachers, but the usability is limited and none have succeeded in creating a significant community for teachers to use each others’ experience and knowledge across the world.


Adjunct Alan – As a recent PhD student, Alan is teaching his first courses.  Although confident in his abilities and knowledge, he is inexperienced.  He would benefit from understanding certain early tips for organization and structure.

Early Education Erin – Knowing she wanted to teach but not sure exactly what, young Erin hasn’t lead a room of young children by herself.  There are others like her that could help.

Tenure Tim – Tim has been teaching for years and has all the tips and tools of the trade.  He remembers starting out and wants to share his knowledge with up and coming academics.

DH Dan – Heavily influenced by the potential of digital technology on pedagogy and research, Dan wants to share his experiences and exciting new tools for relaying knowledge and creating excitement for learning.


Alan would benefit from a community of peers that can help him get over the hump of his first classes and feel comfortable with his skills.  It’s tough teaching a group of kids and keeping their attention for an entire school day.  Erin hasn’t been around kids too much but is passionate about early education.  She’s connected with others like her and is now inundated with valuable resources and tips.  Tim has done it all in his academic career and has been rewarded with tenure.  Tim is very passionate about his studies and about his career and its benefits and wants to share his knowledge and experiences.  This tool allows Tim to connect with young teachers and mentor and guide them directly and/or remotely through the tips he posts.  Dan is excited about the opportunities he sees as inherent in digital technology and teaching/research.  Dan uses this tool as a way to spread the word of new tools and techniques that allow digital technology to be utilized in the classroom.  Dan also connects with others involved in DH to grow the community and learn more from his peers.

Full Version and Time Expectations

This tool could be set up using a WordPress/Commons in a Box set up.  I am relatively new to both and I would need to learn how to utilize these tools to customize a site like this.  Since CUNY Commons would be a model for the tool, I have several resources to tap into to learn how to build this.  Outreach and marketing this tool to the academic community would be the difficulty in this project.  The tool is not completely unique, however, none have been overly successful in creating a space to build a community of teachers and educators.  Therefore, the interface and usability would need to be a major focus on the tool itself, making it easy to sign up, make a profile, connect with others and navigate communities and forums.  This project would take time to put together and launch, but ultimately, the time would be in marketing and outreach and upkeep.  As with the CUNY Commons, putting it up online wasn’t the hardest part, nor the most time consuming; it was more the subsequent releases and upkeep.  Therefore, I would put a several year timetable on this project to its full potential.

Stripped Down Version and Time Expectations

The stripped down version would be the soft rollout of the tool, possibly to a select few schools or so to not only find the bugs and the usability problems, but also to build intrigue through a limited release.  This soft rollout would still require building the site and learning the WordPress/Commons in a Box but would not yet include the subsequent releases and upkeep so I estimate the stripped down version would still be close to a year long project.

Hamad’s Mid-term Proposals

Project 1: Sociology Inter-textbook/Create-Your-Own-Textbook

Intro: In an effort to diminish the power of heavy, pricy, and boring textbooks in an intro class, I propose an online ‘inter-textbook’. Students will use the Internet’s many ‘texts’ (written, pictures, videos, audio, games) to create their own chapters on a very large online cork board-type space (similar to As the professor, I would provide lots of structure, like taking the main concepts found in one textbook chapter and setting them up on the board in a logical manner, and guiding the students to figure out what is a good source and what is an unreliable source of information. The students will then post (under their assigned concept) any relevant texts (online articles, blogs, videos, pictures) that provide the definition of the concept, examples of the concept, people associated with the concept, etc. Students will also be required to comment upon and question the postings of other students and thereby engage in a dialogue about their interpretation of the concepts. To make this as close to a traditional textbook as possible, the questions on any quizzes or tests will relate directly back to the boards they create. In short, I envision this as a space for students to create their own chapters, still working with the concepts that any traditional textbook would contain, but making it their own by posting texts that make sense of the ideas to them and engaging with other students about the validity of their sources and the level of understanding they have about the concepts. Class time would be used to go over the board the students have created during the week and fill in any gaps or correct any inaccurate information.


The Always-Onliner: This person is always online, using his/her cell-phone in class to either check Facebook or fact-check things said in class.

The Never-Onliner: This person is only online if required to be for either work or school.

The Google-master: This person will google anything and everything, and is very adept at searching online to verify an opinion or a fact.

The Left-field thrower: This person talks about things that are usually irrelevant to the ongoing discussion, with lots of colorful personal anecdotes.

The Minimalist: This person always questions the purpose of any school-work, only does what is required and does not care about the learning process.

Use case scenario: The ‘inter-textbook’ would be found by entering a link on a web-browser. Ideally, log-in will not be necessary. If a log-in is necessary, that information will be provided to the students along with the link.

The Always-Onliner: This person would easily find the site, perhaps by clicking on a link provided by the instructor in an email. S/he would not have any difficulty logging in, if needed. S/he would have a short learning curve, mostly involving getting used to the controls on the site. S/he would most likely be a prolific linker – comfortable with linking to many types of online media.

The Never-Onliner: This person may have some difficulty understanding the mechanics of the project. S/he may be able to easily find the website by copying and pasting the link provided by the instructor in an email. S/he may have a long learning curve when trying to get used to the controls on the site, and s/he may not be very comfortable posting things like videos and pictures. S/he may also not be (at first) comfortable clicking through links provided by other students.

The Google-master: This person would be able to find the site easily by clicking through the link provided in an email by the instructor. S/he may have a somewhat longer learning curve (but not as long as the Never-Onliner) when trying to use the controls on the website. S/he would most likely be a prolific linker – comfortable with linking to many types of online media.

The Minimalist: This person would be one of the last students to open-up the link or log onto the website (if that is the case). S/he would most likely lose their log-in information or the web-address multiple times – sometimes using this as an excuse to not do work. S/he would have a long learning curve when using the controls on the site, and when trying to find and post relevant links on the site. Unless given a high incentive to, this person would most likely never click through links provided by other students.

The Left-field thrower: This person may be able to access the website without any problems. S/he may have a somewhat longer learning curve, but mostly due to not following instructions well. When engaged in doing work on the site, this person will most likely post links, videos or pictures that are only tangentially relevant to the concepts. The links this person posts may confuse other students trying to get a good grasp on the concepts.

Full-Fledged version: For a full-fledged version of this website, I will want to create a web-application using a development framework like Ruby on Rails. Since Rails is an open-source framework, I would simply download it for free. Creating something from scratch would give me a lot of control to build a user-interface that would balance intuitive use with the major requirements for the project (posting, sourcing, linking, commenting, editing). There would be a log-in process, with just one username and password for the entire class. Creating and managing multiple ‘boards’ or ‘walls’ for all the chapters would be easier, and I could set up an intuitive linking system across chapters, with a table of contents. Having control over the back-end of the site would also make it possible for me to tweak it further as the project rolls out over the semester.

Time assessment (full version): Implementing the full-fledged version will most likely take 6 months. This will involve learning Ruby on Rails, experimenting with simple designs on Rails, building a prototype of the inter-textbook (one chapter), implementing the prototype (as a class assignment with a current class), working out any problems that would arise, and completing the final version (with all chapters).

Stripped-down version: For a stripped-down version, I would use web applications that are already out there, for example, Padlet. Padlet is free to use, and it automatically gives the user a unique wall-space that can be shared with any number of collaborators. The user-interface is easy and intuitive, and walls can be made ‘private’ for use by a specific class. Since this web application is modeled as a ‘one wall/one project’ system, it may be difficult to create and manage separate walls for each chapter of the textbook, as each chapter may require a separate wall and therefore a different web-address.

Time assessment (stripped version): Implementing the stripped-down version will most likely take 3 months. This will involve learning and experimenting on Padlet, building a prototype wall (one chapter), implementing the prototype (as a class assignment with a current class), working out any problems that would arise and completing the final version (with all chapters).

Project 2: Culture-Jamming/Meme-Building

Intro: Applying sociological concepts to everyday activities and messages is one of the hardest skills to instill in intro level students. I’ve been thinking about how students can use the everyday material that is presented to them online and remix it to create sociologically relevant messages. ‘Culture-jamming’ is a technique used by activists who engage with mainstream messages (especially advertisements), point out the fallacies inherent in those messages, and sometimes change the script of those messages to relay the truth about a specific product or service. ‘Memes’ are continuously reproduced cultural messages, usually visual in nature with some changeable text, that are often found on social media sites. Memes are also a highly effective way of learning and reproducing the transient cultural norms of the time. Students in an intro level sociology class will learn how to build memes, and produce sociologically relevant memes to spread on social media sites. Each week, students (working in teams) will look for memes relevant to the topic of the week and culture-jam it to convey a sociological message instead.


The Reddit-Obsessed: This person is obsessed with both looking at and perhaps even tweaking memes. They get all of their entertainment, socialization and even news from Reddit or Tumblr, sometimes even forgetting to eat because of an online flame-war.

The IRL-Centric: This person is only online if required to be for either work or school. S/he makes it a point to not create any online social-media accounts for fear of privacy violations, becoming addicted to social-media or discomfort with online technology in general.

The Activist: This person is always highlighting and critiquing the social-economic-corporate conspiracies in society. S/he is frustrated by the social construction of race, gender, class, social institutions and society in general.

The Culture-is-Natural-ist: This person thinks that the cultural norms prevalent in society today are just the way things have always been, and a reflection of natural laws. S/he is unable to see the social script at work when they come across cultural memes.

The Minimalist: This person only does what is minimally required, his/her only goal is to pass the class, and s/he does not care about the learning process.

Use case scenario:

The Reddit-Obsessed: This person will be the most prolific meme-maker, or at least understand the concept and the mechanics behind meme-building more easily than the rest. S/he will have the shortest learning curve, but may still struggle with making the memes sociologically relevant.

The IRL-Centric: This person will most likely be the most hesitant to participate in the project. It will require a lot of hand-holding to get this person on board to at least look for and put forth ideas for tweaking memes. Even so, s/he may be very uncomfortable promoting the meme that his/her team creates on social media.

The Activist: This person will be readily convinced to culture-jam popular memes, and may even suggest ideas about how to change the messages of the memes to reflect sociological perspectives.

The Culture-is-Natural-ist: This person may be the most hesitant to critique or think about changing the messages that are conveyed in popular memes. S/he may even buy into the cultural script the meme promotes, and if s/he tweaks any memes, s/he will tweak to reflect the same cultural script as the original meme.

The Minimalist: This person would never look for current memes, initiate any ideas about changing memes, or try to do any technical work in tweaking the memes. S/he will depend on the work of more engaged students.

Full-Fledged version: For a full-fledged version of this project, I will want to provide the students with a few workshops on using advanced meme-building tools like Photoshop (proprietary software) or Editor by (free web application). To ensure that students are ready to engage in meme-building I would also set aside some time for them to practice in class (in a computer lab) and assess their final products for a grade. Although Photoshop and Editor can be used to tweak existing memes, they are more geared toward building memes from scratch.

Time assessment (full version): Implementing the full-fledged version will most likely take 3 months. This will involve learning Photoshop or Editor, experimenting with simple designs on either application, building a prototype assignment as a team-project, implementing the prototype (as a class assignment with a current class), working out any problems that would arise, and completing the final project design.

Stripped-down version: For a stripped-down version, I would use simpler meme-building web applications, like, the Imgur meme-generator. Imgur is free to use, where a user is able to either borrow background images from current popular memes, or upload their own images. The user-interface is easy and intuitive. Although Imgur can be used to build new memes, it is more geared toward tweaking existing memes.

Time assessment (stripped version): Implementing the stripped-down version will most likely take 2 months. This will involve learning and experimenting on Imgur, building a prototype assignment as a team-project, implementing the prototype (as a class assignment with a current class), working out any problems that would arise, and completing the final project design.

Kelly’s midterm project

Teaching assignments app

Most teachers (adjuncts) have very little time to be as creative as they would like to be in the classroom, and creativity is part of the main teaching strengths when teaching literature to non-literature majors. This mobile friendly app will be an exchange of technology-based assignments. It will also provide a very user-friendly platform to upload assignments, teaching methodology, etc. as most great ideas happen in the classroom and are later forgotten.

  1. Personas:
    1. Floridian Paper – is a fourth year 31 year old English grad student at NYU, he has been exploited as a teaching assistant for the past three years and is ready to jump into a classroom all for himself. He has a tattoo on his forearm of a very obscure James quote, which reminds him of why he is doing what he is doing. He taught kindergarten in Maine right after college while he figured out what he wanted to do with his life. He overthinks the teaching he wants to do, preparing for an undergrad class three months in advance.
    2. Chelsea Piers – Is a 23 year old in her second year in her French Masters at Hunter College. She has been working as a restaurant manager in Queens, which is where she grew up. She is starting to teach next year and is very confused as to what is expected of her. She has been doing a lot of research online to figure out what it is she needs to do, reading sparknotes and finding a few discussion points she can use.
    3. Trillian Potter – is a 42 year old Comp Lit PhD student at the GC. She got married very young and her kids are now in college, so she decided to do what she had always wanted to do. She taught grade school when she was raising her kids, but now wants to go in deeper. She is about to start her second year and has been assigned to teach at BMCC. Her two boys make fun of her fear of technology. She is scared regarding the technology generation gap with her students.
    4. Adam Douglas – is a 29 year old Comp Lit PhD student at the GC. He moved to NY from Colombia where he used to teach college. He is in his third year and has already taught for one year at Baruch. He feels very overwhelmed by the teaching and the studying and feels he is designing things in such a way that he spends most of his time grading. He would like to change that but still give his best to his students.
    5. Use case scenario:

–        Adam Douglas and Trillian Potter meet at the comp lit lounge. They are both teaching “Things fall apart” in the respective colleges. They both disagree with how to enter the discussion, while Adam wants to bring in videos of Nigeria, Trillian wants to do a close text analysis. They see the strengths in each others views but have to rush out before they can actually sit and exchange methodologies. They decide to use the app. As they are both on their way to teach they upload the teaching approaches to the apps o the other can access it and take a peek.

  1. the full version would be have both app and website versions. The app would have several options, a search window in order to find assignments according to a specific reading, author, or by school, or even by grade. the user would have to sign in and provide an .edu email address in order to do so. The app would have a 2.99 dollar cost and would also be subsidized by a few scholarly institutions (such as digital humanities things).
    1. It would also have a button for “quick upload”, this button can be pressed right after class to upload ideas and teaching methods which came up during the said class. It would have very specific blanks to fill in:

i.     Reading – text discussed

ii.     School – students level

iii.     Class size

iv.     Smart classroom yes or no

v.     Form of discussion: in small groups, in pairs, class activity.

vi.     Use of technology yes or no

vii.     Question based assignment yes or no

viii.     Production based assignment yes or no (by this I mean that the students need to ‘produce’ something at the end  of the class in regards to the text)

ix.     Homework based yes or no

x.     Goals:____

xi.     Difficulties:____

xii.     Innovativeness in five words

xiii.     Hashtags

xiv.     Category

  1. This would all be in a user friendly setup that would take less than three minutes to fill out.
  2. The app would have several ways of ‘accessing’. By buying it for 2.99 you have full access. A free version would let you access just two assignments per reading. A free version with exchange feature would allow you to access as many assignments as you upload. (since the uploading process does require the assignments to be real, it would not be a problem)
  3. The website would be a little more complete, with assignments divided by specific categories, more advanced search engines, links, and advertisements.
  4. This would take about 200 hours. I need to know how to develop an app, how to design it, monetize it, upload it. how to keep it up. I need a lot of skills.
  5. The strip down version is just a User-friendly website into which teachers can type in their assignments to look at them at a later date or to exchange them. (I have no idea what tools to use for this) You can ‘befriend’ other teachers who have teaching methodologies you are interested in. the way of uploading the assignments would be based on five questions:
    1. Text
    2. Group size
    3. Technology yes or no
    4. Goal
    5. Description
    6.  I need to learn everything. I don’t even know what I would need to do this. I don’t think a wordpress would work, but who knows? If it is wordpress then tinkering with it more. 200 hours.




Wikipedia is the largest Encyclopedia and yet there is a huge disadvantage and imbalance between the wikipedias in different languages. Wiki in Spanish is very poor, it has very few cited works and is quite unserious, although students keep using it as a primary source of information. Thru awareness, workshops and events with universities in Mexico, we will promote a change in the Spanish Wikipedia.

  1. Personas:
    1. Luis – Is a full professor at the Universidad Iberoamericana. He teaches in the Latin-American Literature department teaching research. He is also part of the Library. One of his biggest problems with his students is that they don’t believe research is necessary, or useful, in the way that he thinks of it, and that they use Wikipedia as a primary source when he knows it is not useful in that way.
    2. Dany – works in the communication department at the Universidad Iberoamericana. He is the coordinator of the largest undergrad group and also teaches radio. He is a bit anachronological since he just acquired a smart phone a year ago, but he knows how important technology is for his students.
    3. Triny – is a second year communications undergrad at the Universidad iberoamericana. She failed a class last semester because most of her research was done online and she still does not see why her teacher didn’t think it was appropriate.
    4. Jesus – is a third year undergrad in Media design at the Universidad Iberoamericana. His writing skills are terrible, but he is an ace where technology is involved.
    5. Luis gives his students the assignment of looking up an article in Wikipedia which is not well researched and asks them to edit it by going to the library and researching in books. Jesus gives them a workshop on how to do the editing beforehand. Dany sees how cool this is and wants to implement a whole wiki editing program.
    6. Full version: wiki editing workshops as a requirement in all programs at the Universidad Iberoamericana. It would later spread to other universities, public and private. There would be massive wiki editing events all over the country and would later spread to the rest of Latin America. Wiki in Spanish would be as good as it is in English.
    7. 50 hours. I need to get a handle on more wiki editing skills. Contact people, organize workshops. Implore.
    8. Stripped sown version: organize a few workshops at the said university (my alma mater) with professors and then with students. Organize at día ibero (the public day of the university) a few editing sessions with specific focus (feminist session, music session, etc). Assess and re-do. Propose more workshops and more editing assignments to professors.
    9. 50 hours. Bit more wiki skills

Jared’s Project Proposal 2

Project 2: Hybrid Theatre 101 Course


An appreciation of Theatre and Performance relies in large part on physical experience of a performance event. The art form cannot be taught solely through a traditional text-based approach. To this end, Theatre professors are to a certain extent already creating hybrid courses that supplement traditional classroom instruction with attendance at a live performance event in their (or a nearby) city, or at their institution. This project would contribute an additional element of hybridity by using digital technology to reimagine the Theatre 101 textbook.


Teacher Tim- Tim is a faculty member in a local theatre department teaching Theatre 101, a required course for all incoming theatre majors, and a course that fulfills a required component for the University’s core curriculum. He has found that his lectures are inefficient since the majority of students have not done the preparatory reading. He is looking for a way to entice his students to read so his lectures can be more interesting, active, and participatory; building on to, rather than reiterating the readings.

Hands-on Hannah– Hannah is an active learner but does not absorb what she reads. She learns more when she is actually doing something.

Advanced Alice– Alice is a highly cultured student who knows much of the material already. She will answer Tim’s questions (often after a large eye-roll) and then go back to working on material for another class. She is only taking this course because it is required for her degree plan.

Modest-Means Mary– Mary is a non-traditional student. She is a single mother who is having to work to support her child and pay her tuition. She wants to finish her degree so she can build a better life for herself and her child, but the hidden expenses of her education are beginning to wear on her.


Tim found the hybrid course textbook through a discussion with other CUNY theatre faculty and decided to implement it in his fall 101 course. He found that the interactive elements encouraged student participation both in their preparation and in-class discussions. The reimagined “text” promoted greater retention of information and freed his class time to be more active. Hannah also appreciated the new “text” because it reinforced what she was reading with hand-on games and activities. The self-guided nature of the new “text” allowed Alice to move through the course material at a faster pace and she is more active in class since the class in to a reiteration of the textbook. Mary is grateful for the new way the course is set up because it allows her to move at her own pace and doesn’t require her to spend $100+ on another textbook.

Full Version and Time Expectations

The full version of the hybrid course text would use WordPress, BuddyPress, and a course management plugin to create a modular theatre text book. Rather than being only a digitalization and customizable text book (such as a wikibook), this course text would integrate images, video, games, and activities to reinforce terms and concepts for the course. The games and activities also serve as a way to assess students’ progress without spending class time on  reading quizzes. Using WordPress with BuddyPress as a platform also brings an element of social learning into the course. As students work through the “text” they are able to ask questions and make comments about the material. This aspect serves as an extension of the class time but also allows for a lower stakes interaction without the fear of judgment from the professor; as well as, promoting critical thinking through engagement with the text in the context of a community.

Since I am already proficient in WordPress and have built several sites,  I do not anticipate that this project, even in its full version, would take too much time. The biggest challenge would be making the “text” modules flexible to allow teachers to customize the text to follow the order they want to teach the material. However, I feel like this feature is necessary for the project to expand beyond my own classroom. I would estimate about a year for the completion of this project, a majority of which would be spent populating the content and testing the games and activities to see have effectively they teach the concepts they are intended to.

Stripped Version and Time Expectations

A stripped down version of the hybrid course would remove the flexibility of the modules and would only focus on a singe unit of the course. Most of the features I am envisioning are already native to WordPress/BuddyPress, so I might as well incorporate them even in the reduced version. By focusing on a single unit of the course, i could have the project completed in about 3 months. This would prove the project’s viability, but it would have to be expanded before it would actually be useful as a course.