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It’s convenient that I’ve been reconsidering my longtime taboo about swearing at the same time that “enshittification” is becoming such a professionally salient word.

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Catching up on grading today, and I’ve been laughing out loud at some of my students’ Hypothesis annotations of class readings. I’m so glad I use this instead of discussion board responses: It’s so much more organic and creates more social presence in online classes.

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Teaching password security in class today, so time to talk about Ozymandias’s total lack thereof in Watchmen (and how dumb it is for a computer to say “almost there!” when you enter an incomplete password).

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'How anti-vaccine activists and the far right are trying to build a parallel economy'

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Gab’s been showing up more in the news lately, so I guess I should dust off some of that Gab data I have and move it closer to publication. link to “How anti-vaccine activists and the far right are trying to build a parallel economy”

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'College DEI programs survive as clock runs out on KY Republican supermajority'

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This feels too good to be true? But if the legislation is really dead (at least this time around), I’ll take it. link to “College DEI programs survive as clock runs out on KY Republican supermajority”

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I’m getting this second-hand, but it sounds like the textbook for one of our classes is giving students the impression that Aaron Swartz was a cybercriminal, and now I have lots of curriculum questions.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Class Is Canceled Until Further Notice While I Do My Job'

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Too much truth in this. link to “Class Is Canceled Until Further Notice While I Do My Job”

religious authority, Mormonism, and Instagram

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As I hinted at in a recent linkpost, something really interesting happened this week that serves as a sort of microcosm of my research interests related to online Mormonism and religious authority. Here’s a rundown of what happened, as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune (and republished here via MSN). First, a leader of the official Latter-day Saint women’s organization gave a sermon last Sunday, one quote from which was uploaded to the official Latter-day Saint Instagram account:

do you want to be good or to be optimized?

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This Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic from yesterday spoke to me at a deep level: My first thoughts went to generative AI, an area in which I feel like a fetishization of optimization is crowding out really important questions of what is good. As I put it in a university survey earlier today, there are undeniable benefits to the use of AI tools, but there are important questions as to who benefits.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Call for Submissions: The Deleted Comments Department - Exponent II'

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Bookmarking for future research. What a fascinating (if frustrating) interplay of social media platforms and religious authority. link to “Call for Submissions: The Deleted Comments Department - Exponent II”

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Hackers are targeting a surprising group of people: young public school students'

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Audrey Watters was warning about something like this almost a decade ago. It’s time for edtech folks to step up and recognize that technology in schools goes far beyond that exciting new classroom tech—and that we can’t do something about stuff like this if we’re overly focused on efficiency and effectiveness. link to “Hackers are targeting a surprising group of people: young public school students”

what would Doctorow University look like?

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One of my favorite academic anecdotes to share in conference rooms and university hallways is for my dissertation defense, two of my committee members were there via telepresence robot. This is less impressive post-2020, when a lot of defenses happen entirely over Zoom, but it’s still different than an online-only defense, so the story still attracts some interest. At any rate, as good as I thought my story was, I got a real kick out of this bit in the prologue to Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom:

hooray for faculty collegiality

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My unit is currently hiring three new faculty members, which means that we’re right in the middle of nine(!) campus visits. We’re all getting well practiced at talking about the strengths of our unit and why people might want to work here. One thing that we’ve said over and over in meetings and interviews with candidates is that we work together well and get along with each other, too (we also acknowledge that this is not true 100% of the time, but that the exceptions prove the rule).

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Several times in recent weeks, I’ve packed a lunch, “realized” I’d forgotten a fork, rushed to add one to my lunch bag, and then opened my lunch on campus to find two forks in there. I often joke that I became a professor because I already had the “absent-minded” part down, but still…

far-right Mormonism and the boundaries of Twitter hashtags

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There are a couple of weeks before the deadline to submit abstracts for the Mormon Social Science Association’s sessions at the 2024 meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, so I’ve been filling some nooks and crannies of my busy work week by looking at some Twitter data. Last year, I published with my colleague Amy Chapman a qualitative look at the #DezNat Twitter hashtag, which blends Mormon orthodoxy with far-right and anti-feminist thinking.

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This week has enough writing (and deadlines!) that the utilitarian appeal of ChatGPT is finally clear to me; and yet, it’s also so much clearer that I would rather do fewer things well and on my own.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'UK looks to change role of faculty senate. Employees worry it will take away authority'

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Need to read more on this before I fully understand what’s being proposed and what the consequences will be. I struggle, however, with the argument that reducing the power of faculty is somehow improving faculty governance. link to “UK looks to change role of faculty senate. Employees worry it will take away authority”

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome in Academia When You’re Six Raccoons Living in a Fjällräven Parka'

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I really ought to be reading more McSweeney’s. link to “How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome in Academia When You’re Six Raccoons Living in a Fjällräven Parka”

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Present me forgot to take pseudoephedrine this morning and was dreading having a congestion headache all day, but past me left a stash in my campus office that I’ve just raided. Thanks, past me!

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'University of Michigan Sells Recordings of Study Groups and Office Hours to Train AI'

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This is straight-up awful. Shame on the university for doing this. link to “University of Michigan Sells Recordings of Study Groups and Office Hours to Train AI”

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Trying to figure out which circle of hell it is when three people in a row fail to recognize a message is coming from a university listserv and reply all with “hey, think you meant to send this to someone else!”

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I spent 12 hours last week working on a small, open journal’s WordPress site, and I came away from that with a new, begrudging respect for what they’ve done with the Gutenberg site builder. The same things that made me cranky in terms of my personal site make sense for larger scale projects.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'UK president to legislature: Proposed DEI, tenure legislation is ‘deeply concerning’ for Kentucky colleges'

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I appreciate it when our president speaks up against legislation that would hurt the University of Kentucky. link to “UK president to legislature: Proposed DEI, tenure legislation is ‘deeply concerning’ for Kentucky colleges”

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on ' Ky. Senate passes bill to limit DEI in higher education in the name of free speech'

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Well, crap. Not a lot of hope that House will stop this. link to " Ky. Senate passes bill to limit DEI in higher education in the name of free speech"

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It’s remarkable how much of my service in academic organizations has come down to “oh, hey, you know WordPress, don’t you?”

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I think what bothers me about “improving learning” approaches to educational technology is that it tends to prioritize utilitarianism at the expense of everything else. Ethical concerns about AI don’t matter if grades go up, what students should learn about is largely shoved aside, and so forth.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'The Absurd One-Sidedness of the Ethics of AI Debate: A rant | Punya Mishra's Web'

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Punya is a bit warmer on AI than I am, so I wasn’t sure what I would be reading based off of the title, but this is one of the best things I’ve read on generative AI in education. These companies have so much power and could use a little more Parkerian responsibility. link to “The Absurd One-Sidedness of the Ethics of AI Debate: A rant | Punya Mishra’s Web”

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Can anyone recommend a newsletter/CRM platform for a small academic organization with a limited budget? I’m managing our membership and emails through Mailchimp right now, but they’re pivoting hard to AI, and I’m ready to leave once I find a solid alternative.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Generative AI course statement – George Veletsianos, PhD'

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George’s example statement is one worth bookmarking. link to “Generative AI course statement – George Veletsianos, PhD”

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'House education chair says professor review bill is not aimed at limiting tenure in Kentucky - Kentucky Lantern'

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You can say that, but it’s hard to understand how this isn’t limiting tenure. link to “House education chair says professor review bill is not aimed at limiting tenure in Kentucky - Kentucky Lantern”

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ClassDojo sent me an automated “see how this week went!” email today even though school hasn’t been in session all week, and I feel like that’s telling.

on Scrabble, French, and what it means to learn

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In the summer of 2015, New Zealander Nigel Richards won the French-language world Scrabble championships despite not speaking a word of French. I heard this story on a Radio Télévision Suisse news show repackaged as a podcast (probably Le 12h30, but I can’t remember exactly) and wrote myself a note that if I ever got a chance to teach a class on games and learning, I would use this story in it.

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I mean this as a general observation and not generational handwringing, but it’s amazing how many cues my students take from YouTubers when recording video presentations for my class.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on '‘Student Should Have a Healthy-Looking BMI’: How Universities Bend Over Backwards to Accommodate Food Delivery Robots'

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I work on a campus with Starship robots, so this was a fascinating read. link to “‘Student Should Have a Healthy-Looking BMI’: How Universities Bend Over Backwards to Accommodate Food Delivery Robots”

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Pluralistic: American education has all the downsides of standardization, none of the upsides (16 Jan 2024) – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow'

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Some interesting thoughts here from Doctorow. Makes me want to put more effort into OER. link to “Pluralistic: American education has all the downsides of standardization, none of the upsides (16 Jan 2024) – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow”

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It’s a Chromebook-heavy “non-traditional instruction” snow day for kiddo today, and I’m having a lot of thoughts about Larry Cuban and that recent UNESCO report about emergency remote teaching during the COVID shutdowns.