Monthly Archives: May 2011
Having decided to teach Shakespeare with Twitter this fall, I’ve been thinking about a few issues. If others occur to you, gentle reader, I’d be grateful for your solutions in the comments below.
Groupthink. Jonah Lehrer recently wrote about groupthink overshadowing–skewing–the wisdom of crowds. In sum, when you consult a group of people as individual thinkers, their aggregate response is remarkably close to the truth. But when they can see each other’s responses, there’s a reversion to the mean: “um, what she said.” Particularly when the question is vexing, or seems to have a right-or-wrong answer.
So it’s official, now: I’m teaching with Twitter in my English 205 (Shakespeare) course this fall.
How? By requiring all students to submit questions that the reading material provokes in them, after they’re finished reading a text. I’m explicitly not encouraging multi-tasking, or tweeting while reading; on the contrary, I underscore the benefits of solitude, of focus, of (as Milton put it) “the quiet and still air of delightful studies.”
What are digital humanists doing now with early modern books and manuscripts? Ann M Blair recently argued that medieval and early modern systems of “managing textual information in an era of exploding publications” are precedents for modern information management systems. Do early reference books, annotations and compilations inform, anticipate, or otherwise influence our computer-assisted thinking?
I’m going to try two online systems for managing student questions, on anything related to the course.
The first is Google Moderator, which I’d not heard of before I read a New York Times story today. In theory, this tool “lets a class type questions and vote for the ones they would most like answered.” I’m interested to see how it works in practice. Here’s the link.
The second is Quora, a sort of social network for questions and answers. Here’s the link to the Fall 2011 English 205 topic I started. Note that it uses the same code (F2011 ENGL205) as this blog, which I borrowed from Blackboard.