Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Snow Day! Even at DSU

Today's a day of canceled classes at DSU as a snowstorm packing over a foot of snow in some places in South Dakota moves through the area. It's mostly spared us so far in Madison, though radar images seem to show the heavier snowfall moving in our direction.

It's not snowing now, and wind has died down some, but we'll take the day and make the best of it by staying home, doing some reading, doing some work, and taking just a few moments to be thankful.

Later, it's play practice.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hand-Jive Warmup--Grease! for You

Put on your poodle skirt and saddle shoes or roll that pack of cigarettes up in your shirt sleeve, and practice your hand-jive.  Grease! is coming to DSU this week, with showings Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at the Dakota Prairie Playhouse at 7:30.  
Yours truly will appear as the teen angel.  Pray for him.  

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Monetize? Making H7 a Cash Machine?

Blogger wants to use my blog? Interfere with the clean and clear experience that dedicated H7 readers "enjoy" when they're checking out the latest profundities?

I don't think so. Just keep those volunteer donations rolling in, and we'll keep H7 free of those nasty ads.

Seriously, it was a little odd to see that "Monetize" tab on my Blogger page, offering me the chance to make money by giving over blocks of space to ads. As Bartleby the Scrivener says, "I would prefer not to."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stepping Lightly

Sure. Sure. It might look like nothing much to you, the blurry photo of a random bunch of digits, but it's what yours truly saw when he climbed on the scale this week, a happy sight not seen for some time. It's not 175 yet, like it was back in the 90's when I was running marathons like a demon (compared to now), but it's a better state to be in than 10% more, which is where I was in December.

Now I just need to keep on the path.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Packaging Online Courses--What's Inside?

An article today in Inside Higher Ed describes the efforts (and the resistance to them) of a company to provide master's degree programs online for established universities.  The company, Higher Ed Holdings, offers universities the "service" of maintaining courses--using "academic coaches" who do grading and answer email.  (The HEH website has two pages, a home page and an investor page, where they proclaim "investing in education provides outcomes that exceeds profits," clearly noting the profit motive.)

Faculty at the University of Toledo, the article notes, recently rejected contract negotiations with HEH.  But the battle continues at Arkansas State University, where administrators sealed a contract with the company without faculty input:  

The concerns Toledo faculty expressed are shared by many at Arkansas State, where professors fear they’re being forced to develop cookie-cutter courses that can be used by thousands of students at a time.

Higher Ed Holdings officials maintain that faculty control of courses is never compromised, even though the “academic coaches” hired by the company typically have more interaction with students.

“The professor always remains in complete control of the content of his course,” Deborah Nugent, the company’s corporate secretary, wrote in an e-mail. “HEH is not a content provider; rather HEH is a distribution and student support system."

While the company insists universities retain complete control of their programs, contracts between Higher Ed Holdings and two universities -- Arkansas State and Ohio -- both state that "once adopted" the universities "shall not amend the curriculum except with the consent" of the company.

As universities face the challenges of staying afloat in the growing competition of online universities like Capella and The University of Phoenix, they'll have to figure out how to continue to offer a clearly better alternative.  

The article is titled "So Many Students, So Little Time." 

Another article here describes how teachers in north Texas have already identified HEH as a way to get a cheap, easy master's degree.   

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Several Good Things

In a busy, stressful day yesterday, there were several good things.
  • The wife made me a good salad for lunch--leafy veggies, chicken, feta cheese, almond slices, salad dressing.
  • I got in a good, 4.5 mile run at a relatively snappy pace.
  • On the run, I saw a donkey in the road, rolling back and forth in the gravel, dusting and scratching his back. I remembered my dad, who claimed that you could tell the value of a horse by the way it did its rollover, backscratching. If it rolled clear over, it was worth twenty bucks. If only halfway, only ten. But if it rolled back and forth repeatedly, that was a good horse worth more.
  • I had a good talk with my son Casey for over 25 minutes on the phone.
  • I got to see that commercial for Hall's lozenges, the one where the drill sergeant comes roaring in as this woman is stocking freezers. I love the way she takes on a whole new attitude when he gets in her face, blowing him right back out of the aisle.

Makes me chuckle every time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Just a Taste of Hawaii

Two years ago we were there ourselves, but this spring break we stayed close to home, not crossing either ocean, or even the state line--barely even the city limits. But Hawaii welcomed a friend of ours, and she brought back (at my request) some fine Maui Coffee, which we're enjoying this morning after our daybreak workout.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

World of WarCrafters, Meet the New York Times

So, I'm bopping along on The New York Times reading an article about how Google is spending a gazillion dollars on print advertisements in newspapers to notify writers that Google plans to digitize all books, and there in the margin is an ad I didn't expect to see there, the ad you see here for a ten-day free trial to the World of Warcraft.  Yes, I know, it shouldn't surprise me.  People who read the news also might play WoW, and the other way round as well. 

Fisher Poets and Singers

A cool site in the NY Times again, a tribute to poets and singers who memorialize their roles in the fishing industry in the northwest US. "Fisher Poets Gather for Verse, Song, and Stories," complete with audio and photos. Check it out.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Old Homes Week

For some reason I got a wild hair to see if my old homes were available on Google street views. Two were; one in Billings I don't remember where it was. What humble places. The first the entrance to the trailer court where I lived when I was in graduate school at the University of Wyoming. It's out west of Laramie's center, out in the windy edge of town. The next is a tiny little house where I lived in Billings, MT, when I was teaching at my first job at Rocky Mountain College there. The third is the first house I bought, 206 East Magnolia, Dodge City, KS, when I was teaching at St. Mary of the Plains College, 1985-1992. Then it was back to South Dakota.

Pretty amazing fellows, those Googlites.

Maira Kalman and the Presidents

The quirky and interesting offerings by Maira Kalman on the New York Times are always worth the read. Her newest is "And the Pursuit of Happiness," the story of her visit to the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, where she falls in love with Abraham Lincoln and dreams of bringing him to New York especially to see the Museum of Modern Art. Cool.