Tom Wright's blog

Banning MySpace--at home

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. -- One Bloomfield Hills school is enforcing a new policy that will end the use of a popular Web site on the premises.

St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic School students were informed recently that under a new school policy, Think First, Stay Safe, the use of MySpace.com will be prohibited at school and at home.

The policy states that students enrolled in the school can't have a MySpace.com account or any similar type of personal site, according to a news release.

Web design tutorials

I'm teaching a technical and professional writing course that includes a four-week unit on Web design. We obviously won't be able to go into great depth, but I think it's reasonable to expect the students, at the end of that time, to be familiar with basic design considerations and able to put up a simple Web page.

Several tutorials have been mentioned on here, but I haven't seen anything lately. Has anyone been using anything that might be useful for this purpose?

Tom

Bright colors and white space

The Director of Developmental Studies at my college called in all of the developmental writing instructors for a meeting. Among other things, we listened to a sales pitch for a new textbook. This textbook is apparently in wide use, and has been well received.

The promotional materials say that "textbooks should be visually appealing with bright colors, plenty of white space, and lots of diagrams and visual aids." This quotation is from someone with an Ed.D. who teaches at a large community college.

Well, I don't want to argue with anyone who has a doctorate in education. And certainly, this book has many bright colors. I especially like the orange, red, and yellow. Plus it has white space, which is white. And it has fascinating visual aids. For example, when the authors wish to link two concepts, they put a picture in the margin of two linked paper clips. Clever, huh?

Blogs and learning communities

I spent much of last week at a retreat dealing with learning communities, "classes that are linked or clustered during an academic term, often around an interdisciplinary theme, and enroll a common cohort of students." Because writing can be applied to almost any discipline, writing courses are often parts of learning communities. One computer science professor, however, objected to the idea of combining his course with a writing course: "The problem with giving all these writing assignments is that then I gotta grade them."

Literacy, the deaf, and blogs

"The education of deaf students in the United States is not as it should be." This observation from Gallaudet University’s Robert Johnson demonstrates his gift for understatement. The average deaf high school graduate reads at about a fourth-grade level. And that doesn't even say anything about the literacy level of deaf high school dropouts, of whom there are far too many. (I don't mean to put down deaf high school dropouts. I'm one, myself. But in general, I think most people are better off finishing high school.) I find this problem a national disgrace. I can't solve the problem in this space, but I hope I can shed a tiny ray of light on the issue.

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