I’m becoming more and more skeptical of “improve teaching and learning” as a motivation for education (and especially edtech) research—it’s a noble goal, but it distracts us from so many other important questions.

When my sister was in town last week, kiddo insisted on drawing her a surprisingly accurate diagram of how data gets transferred over the internet, so I brought it into the office for the next time I have to teach it.

Don’t tell my students, but half the reason I have them work with Hugo in my web content management class is because I enjoy working with it so much. Over the past week, I’ve hacked together an author taxonomy for our class site, and I’m super pleased with it.

I think academia undervalues teaching and that teaching-focused faculty deserve more status, recognition, and compensation. Yet, I’m still suspicious of the new BYU-Idaho president’s comments on the need for “a faculty free of the obligations of research.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Nothing reminds me as much of teaching French as does teaching programming. It takes a lot of the same metacognition to learn both, and it’s really hard to teach that metacognition.

new edition of my remixed data science textbook

I’m happy to share that the Fall 2023 edition of my remixed Introduction to Data Science textbook is now available on my website. This book adapts material from the “ModernDive” Statistical Inference via Data Science course, Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein’s excellent Data Feminism, a number of other Creative Commons-licensed works, and some of my own contributions to put together a no-cost, openly-licensed textbook for my data science students. I put together the first edition of this book for last Fall’s version of this course, but the first run through taught me a lot, and I’m very happy about this edition (though I do have a small laundry list of errors to fix, and I’d like to eventually get into some fiddlier bits like removing social media icons from the header).

Last day of kiddo’s summer, so no matter how behind I am on course prep, we are unapologetically going to the zoo.

Every semester, I give a guest lecture on internet research methods for an undergrad class in my unit. A few days after scheduling this semester’s lecture, I’ve realized it’s the first time I’m giving it after Musk borked Twitter as a data source.

LIS 618 course mentioned in University of Kentucky news

I love hearing from former students about the great and interesting things that they’re up to—and especially when something they learned in one of my classes helped them along the way. In my experience, former students who are up to great and interesting things would often be doing those things whether or not they had taken one of my classes, but I still appreciate feeling like my teaching contributed in some small way.

I’m not the only instructor out there with an idiosyncratic but very specific mental style guide for LMS content, right? Right?

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Why AI detectors think the US Constitution was written by AI | Ars Technica'

I don’t like generative AI, and I get grumpy about advice to accept it and work it into classes (even though I probably agree with that approach at the end of the day). For all that dislike and grumpiness, though, I feel even more strongly that AI detectors are not the way to go. This is a really interesting article. link to ‘Why AI detectors think the US Constitution was written by AI | Ars Technica’

how I'm talking about generative AI in my content management class

Fall 2023 will mark my fifth time teaching my department’s class on Content Management Systems. I have really loved taking on this class and making it my own over the past several years. It’s also been fun to see how teaching the class has seeped into the rest of my life: It’s a “cannot unsee” situation (in a good way!) where the concepts I teach work themselves into everyday encounters with the news, my own websites, and other things around the internet.

Slowly realizing that I have no choice but to make generative AI one of the themes of my content management class in the fall.

After five years of teaching in an LIS program, I’ve finally had the moment I’ve been dreaming of: Running into a former student during a family trip to a local library.

Just had a long conversation with a student that reminded me that we cannot (and should not try to) assess that which we do not effectively teach.

I don’t know if anything makes me angrier about my profession than when a student apologizes that there’s been a death in their family at a busy time of the semester. What have we as professors done to make students feel like they have to apologize for and justify their grief?

One of these mornings where I hope 2022 Spencer put together good slides, because I have class in 20 minutes and haven’t had the time to review them until now.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'The End of Grading | WIRED'

Somewhat meandering read, but I think there are interesting implications for both teaching and research. link to ‘The End of Grading | WIRED’

I’m normally a big “break is break” advocate, but family illness meant being behind on work, which meant taking over my father-in-law’s WFH setup today to finish a syllabus and course shell I needed to prep so other instructors could work off them.

end-of-semester thoughts on hating grading

When I was still an undergraduate student at BYU, I took a job as a student instructor for FREN 102, the second half of a two-course sequence in first-year French. I had a lot of weird experiences as an undergraduate student teaching and grading other undergraduate students, but the one that I remember this morning is the time that I held a student’s scholarship in my hand. I don’t remember the student’s name or much about her, except a vague recollection of her face and a couple of conversations with her.

In the Greenhalgh home, Mommy’s been sick for over a week, which means Daddy’s not gotten a lot of work done recently. Final grades are due tomorrow, though, so kiddo might get a lot of screen time today.

This semester, my efforts to trust students feel like they’re backfiring. I ungrade, but they don’t take work seriously. I never use plagiarism checkers, but I still have to deal with a last minute case. Not saying I’ll stop effort, but still sucks.

Family has been sick for the last week, and it’s been a struggle to keep up with grading even after cancelling nearly all my other commitments. Thought I was in the clear this morning, only for the first final project I opened to turn into suspected plagiarism. 😩

Kiddo is coming with me to class this afternoon, which is fun—but complicated by the fact that my lecture today is the most controversial and ‘adult’ of the semester for this class. Still, maybe a kid will have important insight on controversies surrounding content moderation?

I feel like I am constantly fine-tuning how I do assessments in my classes. I want to trust students and avoid policing them, but I’m frustrated when they respond to this approach by acting like it exempts them from attending class and participating.

I am rereading through old FoxTrot comic strips and bookmarking all the tech ones I think I might use in lectures next semester. Wish I’d done this years ago.

I put in an earbud an hour or two ago so I could listen to music while preparing class readings, and I’m only now realizing that I never hit play.

It’s my students’ Fall break, which means I’m naturally busier than a normal Monday.

It’s a work from home day, but I put on real work clothes to meet with a student, only for them not to show. I think it was genuine miscommunication rather than irresponsibility, but still grumpy that I’m in a button-down shirt right now.

The parent of one of my (college) students this semester was previously the (early childhood) teacher for my kid. Funny how these things happen!

J’ai mis un autocollant SNCF sur mon cahier pour le nouveau semestre. Je voulais signifier que je suis francophile et ferroviphile, mais comme je suis bien en retard quant aux préparations pour mes cours, j’avoue que l’autocollant peut avoir un sens double.

Got happy news this morning that a paper that may be one of the most important research projects I’ve worked on has been accepted into an open access journal! Making it hard to focus on my semester prep.

Prepping a Fall class and feeling torn between wanting to make a lot of improvements and not wanting to burn myself out by reinventing wheels from previous semesters.

why I will (probably?) always agree to write a letter of recommendation for a student

Today, I heard from a student that I had a couple of semesters ago asking for a letter of recommendation for a master’s program. I only had the student in one class, his attendance was spotty, and I didn’t have a lot of sustained interactions with him, so I am questioning whether I would be the best letter writer for him. However, while I said as much to the student in my reply, I also told him that despite all of that, I would still be willing to write him a letter.

reflections on digital journaling of analog letters

One of the most interesting parts of teaching information communication technology classes despite not being formally trained in that field is picking up terms and concepts that I never learned as part of my degrees. One of the most interesting concepts I’ve picked up along the way is the formal distinction between digital and analog phenomena. I often use clocks or thermometers as examples of this in class: Analog phenomena can take on any number of values within certain bounds, whereas digital phenomena are limited to discrete values within those bounds.

In addition to cheating being flat-out wrong, students should also consider just how much regulation-reading and paperwork it creates for their professors.