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Get Involved: Rising Tide returns to Xavier in 2012

Rising Tide is a conference on the future of New Orleans. It's an annual gathering for all who wish to learn more and do more to assist New Orleans' recovery. It's for everyone who loves New Orleans and is working to bring a better future to all its residents.

Last year Rising Tide came to our campus for the first time, in partnership with Xavier's Center for the Advancement of Teaching. The program was bigger and more ambitious than ever, with programs on social media, social justice, the BP oil disaster, food and music. Keynote speakers were Richard Campanella and David Simon. (If you missed it, don't worry, you can watch it online.)

This year's conference (Saturday Sept. 22, 2012) promises an even broader scope. Topics currently under development include the cultural economy, education, electoral politics, the NFL bounty scandal, and religion and spirituality. If it is relevant to New Orleans, you may find it here.

Want to get involved? Help develop programming, volunteer to work the event, or just tell us what you think.

Call Bart Everson in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching at 504-520-5164 or email for more information.

There has been some heated discussion in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the future of the college lecture.  Is it a thing of the past in the internet age?  See what students have to say.  Whatever your opinion of the views being expressed, this article has been getting a lot of attention.

A few days ago, Lee Bessette posted a call to action on Inside Higher Ed:

We need a Day of HigherEd (hashtag #dayofhighered). While many of us have written posts broadly outlining what we do in a day (and how disgusted we all are by the at best misleading and at worst dishonest portrayal of our work), few of us have ever taken the time to actually record, in minutia, what we do as professors from the moment we wake up to the minute we fall asleep. All the work we do that contributes to our job as educators.

The idea, then, is for academics to take the day of April 2nd to tweet and/or blog about what they do, as a way of reminding the world that yes, we do work for a living.

This might best be understood in the context of David C. Levy's recent polemic in the Washington Post, which asks the question, "Do college professors work hard enough?"

As for Bessette's post, it garnered only three comments, one of which derided the proposition. One might think that idea was dead in the water.

Not so.

There's quite a discussion on Twitter. Just check the #DayofHigherEd hashtag. Bessette affirms it's on for April 2nd.

Of course, that's right in our spring break, so authentic participation from Xavier faculty is probably not realistic. Still it's something, perhaps, to keep your eye on.

The nonprofit TED, famous for their 18-minute lectures on a vast variety of topics, which some credit with sparking an intellectual movement, has a new YouTube channel for teachers and professors.

It's called TED-Ed. The full launch is expected in April, but a smattering of videos is available now, in five categories:

  • Awesome Nature
  • How Things Work
  • Playing With Language
  • Questions No One (Yet) Knows the Answers To
  • Inventions that Shaped History

Each video teams an educator with an animator, and given TED's track record, they are virtually guaranteed to be of the highest quality both in terms of presentation style and the ideas presented.

These videos are shorter than TED's 18-minute standard. Obviously one can't expect a great depth in a short video, but these might serve as good conversation starters, either in the classroom or online.

Here's an example, in which Jason Munshi-South shows how animals develop genetic differences in evolution, even within an urban city.

You can check out all the TED-Ed videos on their new YouTube channel.

Download Conversation #14

Karen DeMoss

A conversation with Karen DeMoss of The New School on teaching, learning, and under-prepared students.

They pursue individualized learning; they find individualized questions and like-minded groups where they have passions, all the time, every day. They actually know how to do that. We just haven't ever had an experience that's persistent and consistent enough across academia where they're using that kind of interest-driven inquiry inside things they're producing for us. And that last phrase, "for us," may be part of it.

Links for this episode:

If you use any Google services, you've undoubtedly noted their new privacy policy, since they've been springing pop-up alerts to users over the past month or so.

How does it all boil down?

Sharon Vaknin offers a concise summary of the changes and why you might have cause for concern:
Five ways Google's unified privacy policy affects you

Download Conversation #13

Alexios Moore

A conversation with Alexios Moore of Xavier University of Louisiana on teaching, learning, and the future of this podcast.

In academia sometimes we tend to hunker down and settle within our institutions, and I think it's really important to initiate conversations with folks that are in other institutions that are dealing with some of the same issues that we all share, both within and without the classroom.

Links for this episode:

...continue reading "Conversation #13: Transition"

I recall as an undergrad I was advised, repeatedly, of a surefire formula for success in life: find what you liked to do, and then find a way to get paid for doing it. Did you get the same advice? Do you give this advice to your students? If so, you may want to consider this brief but worthy meditation by Oliver Segovia.

Like myself, today's twentysomethings were raised to find our dreams and follow them. But it's a different world. And as the jobless generation grows up, we realize the grand betrayal of the false idols of passion. This philosophy no longer works for us, or at most, feels incomplete. So what do we do? I propose a different frame of reference: Forget about finding your passion. Instead, focus on finding big problems.

Read the rest at the Harvard Business Review.

A funny thing happened on the web yesterday. Many of the most popular sites went dark, either blocking access to their content entirely or making symbolic gestures of protest. Visitors to Wikipedia were directed to contact their Congressional representatives about certain pending legislation, but Wikipedia's actual articles were unavailable. It was in fact the largest online protest in history. And it wasn't just online; people were marching in the streets in New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Seattle.

These stunts were designed to broaden awareness of SOPA and PIPA. Apparently, it worked. I was contacted by a couple of professors here at Xavier who wanted to know what it's all about. They were surprised when they couldn't access Wikipedia.

So, I thought I'd offer this brief primer. SOPA — That's the Student Oral Proficiency Assessment right?

Wrong. SOPA is actually the Stop Online Piracy Act. PIPA is the Protect Intellectual Property Act. SOPA is a bill in the House; PIPA's in the Senate. These measures have support from the entertainment industry but are generally opposed by the internet industry. Think of it as Hollywood versus Silicon Valley. However, this is not just a "Clash of the Titans." The consensus amongst advocates of free speech and the open internet is that SOPA/PIPA are highly problematic.

As writer Brian Barrett explains,

SOPA is an anti-piracy bill working its way through Congress that would grant content creators extraordinary power over the internet which would go almost comedically unchecked to the point of potentially creating an "Internet Blacklist" while exacting a huge cost from nearly every site you use daily and potentially disappearing your entire digital life while still managing to be both unnecessary and ineffective but stands a shockingly good chance of passing unless we do something about it.

That's the case against SOPA in a nutshell. Here's a short video that makes the same case:

For more facts, consider CNET's list of frequently asked questions.

See also: A typically strident statement from The Pirate Bay.

How do things stand after the protests of January 18? According to Forbes, SOPA is "unlikely to recover, at least in its present form." President Obama has all but indicated he'll use his veto power to stop the legislation. An alternative bill, OPEN, has been introduced in the House. Meanwhile, protests continue. With as much as has been invested in this legislation so far, you can bet the fight isn't over. Anyone who uses the internet should be concerned and stay informed.