Saturday, November 28, 2009

Oy vey

The videos made me feel anxious and uncomfortable. Sometimes I feel like I am on the same side as the bearded professors who are confused about this technological world in which we live in. I feel a little out of the loop with my generation's fascinations. Perhaps I simply fear change like the rest of the oldies.

I believe in improving ourselves as a race...I very strongly believe in our evolving...But I suppose it just feels as though we are evolving in the wrong direction. We fuse bridges between each other with instant communication, yet we don't remember how to communicate with each other in-person. 70% of communication is non-verbal, and I feel like this language and our connections with each other are disintegrating ...the edges are fraying. The reason for such a decline in intellectual conversation? Convenience. Laziness. Convenience is the cancer. I DO NOT SEE EVOLUTION.

I see this generation sitting on their McDonald's-padded tushes and watching the world through a glass screen.

To get back to the point.As far as universities go, I don't see a clear answer. On the traditionalist university hand, we cannot communicate because the communication is one-sided. On the other “hand of the future,” the communication is faceless. I don't agree with either possibility and I cannot see an answer. Everyone learns differently, and I can understand many (especially those birthed into technology-land) benefiting from an online or hybrid university...but not I.

I am willing to adapt to these "improvements," but I am apprehensive. I become so frustrated with technology, and the strange communication that, in my eyes, is lacking the connection I feel during in-person conversation. It is that connection that I feel I need in a classroom setting. Traditional-lecture university setting, and at-home-communicating-via-internet university setting both seem fairly ineffective to me.

I have not the answers. I am young and naive and I just need some time to better understand my rapidly changing world.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Plagiarism: The Eighth Deadly Sin

As one of my high school teaches once told me, “If ya ain’t cheatin’, ya ain’t tryin’.”

I took this to heart. It has become my reason for being. It is my highest standard. Not really though. Cheating makes me sick, unless it is at games. I am fine with cheating at games, because I like to win. Cheating in academia is unacceptable. There are a few reasons I can think of as to why a person would plagiarize a paper.

I think the main reason a student plagiarizes a paper is unintentionally. It is quite easy to plagiarize a paper. All a student has to do is forget to cite a source. Sometimes the students may not know if they even have to cite the source. If it is common knowledge we are supposedly not supposed to cite the source. But what the h is common knowledge. What may be very common knowledge to me could be something someone else would have to cite up the wazoo. Cite everything that is looked up, is a good rule of what to cite. They might not even know what plagiarism is. It is kind of a big word. And if they do not even know what the word plagiarism is, how can they be held accountable for the word in which they do not know?

The more evil form of plagiarism is the intentional form. When a student copy and pastes an article and calls it his or her own. This is a crime against humanity. These people should be drawn and quartered. The only reasons I can think of that a person would intentionally plagiarize is because he or she is lazy or just plain stupid. Laziness has become quite the problem in our time. It is all about instant gratification, no waiting, and no work. We are the fast food generation. They are just plain stupid, because how hard is it to put quotes around something, or summarize. If a student cannot summarize or paraphrase an article, he or she is severely behind in schooling.

I totally agree with Derek that sometimes they do it just for the sheer thrill of it. Many people enjoy breaking the rules. It makes them happy. Especially when they get away with it. I can just see those rebels have a blast copying and pasting an entire paper, and shouting for joy at their adrenaline rush. Erin also made a good point. I also watched Community, and yes “people are evil.” They proved it on the show. So now it is a fact that people are evil. So, since people are evil, they plagiarize. Which kind of logical fallacy is that? Slippery Slope maybe?

Now to add my two cents to Derek’s comment. Can this Dave fellow read the entire Twilight Saga in 24 hours, or one day? I do not think so. It has nothing to do with the fact that the series is childish. The books suck. I hate them. But he cannot do it. It is just pure math. They are pretty long books. I would say the whole series is around two thousand pages. That is a lot of reading to do in one day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The new textual universe

The first thing I thought when I watched these videos was, "Thank god I went to Weber." I thought this because of the small class sizes taught by people with (mostly) PhDs. It was fascinating to see how out of touch most university classrooms are with their students. I know that all of the signs they help up are true. I have personally witnesses most of them and in the case of not showing up to class, been them (I often drank too much as an undergrad, but that is neither here nor there). I also saw the lack of understanding of what students are reading.
Everyone seems to complain that students don't read; however, this is a misconception. Students read--they just don't read books. They read texts, emails, Facebook pages, Tweets and web pages. They don't read traditional media.
The other aspect is that even traditional media is changing with the advent of the Kindle and B&R reader. Most of students today are more comfortable reading text online than they are reading hard copy. Unfortunately, most college, and lower, programs ignore this fact and continue to teach in the exact same way. We are losing students, not because the information we have is unusable, but because the delivery mechanism is.
Hybrid or online classes enable larger enrollment and more flexible time for students already burdened with full-time jobs and families.
I recently tutored someone using track-changes and comments in word. These items offer flexibility in tutoring because they can print them out and they can just accept them. I also used both of these features while copy-editing a book. I sent it back to the author by email. The whole transaction took 2 hours instead of the time it would have taken with traditional proofreading and "snail" mail.
The need for understanding new technologies is obvious. This year for Christmas, my husband and I purchased 90% of our presents online. I shop online more than I do in stores. I even window shop online. The cruise I am taking this winter required sign-up online and had a PDF to print out boarding passes and luggage tags. So why is Weber only using online payment this year?
There is going to continue to be a gap between students and professors as long as professors are allowed to not change their techniques. A professor recently recommended that all teachers over the age of 66 should retire. I am inclined to agree. The technology gap will only remain as long as we let it. We may have to drag some kicking and screaming, but the benefits outweigh this.
In the end, technology is not going away. We need to adapt and learn to use it to our benefit. Just as the world was convinced of the cell phone they will have to be convinced about new styles of education (I think Joel in particular). I know that I would rather be online than be one of 200 in a lecture hall. I would rather be able to email my professor with a question than be afraid of personal rejection.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I definitely think that most of the time plagiarism is unintentional. It is so easy to be working on an assignment, throwing ideas together, connecting those ideas with other ideas, and in the end forgetting to properly cite where those ideas originated. Also, there is this whole idea of “common knowledge.” Supposedly “common knowledge” does not have to be cited. However, what exactly constitutes “common knowledge,” is it what your audience knows or is it what they should know? Either assumption is problematic and leaves the student without a clear definition of when to cite information.

While the definition of plagiarism may be vague and changing, the consequences of plagiarism are explicit. People who plagiarize will be caught and punished for plagiarizing. Since students understand that plagiarism demands a high price from violators, this is the reason that most acts of plagiarism are unintentional. Students do not choose to purposely plagiarize they just do not know how to properly avoid it. Students have either never learned when or how to properly cite another’s work, or they have been feed this “common knowledge” crap and are just flat-out confused about the entire process.

We are living in an age of information overload. At any second during any given day we have instant access to the internet through cell phones, iPods, and computers. With this internet access we can locate virtually anything we seek. Since it is effortless to gain this information in the first place, why is it necessary to accompany it with an in-depth documentation of where it came from? If information is out there for anyone to see and use whenever they want, how can it be so protected by copyrights? If this information is so valuable, so defining, so irreplaceable, shouldn’t it be more protected, more inaccessible? Looking at plagiarism from this perspective, it is easy to see how technology has muddled its clean-cut definition and how technology will ultimately reshape the perimeters of plagiarism.

Since college students are used to the idea of watching, posting and downloading various media from the internet for free, this only serves to further blur the understanding of plagiarism. Too many students are living by the rule of finders keepers. They think that because they have easy access to the information it must not be wrong to use the information in any way they need to. After all no single person owns the internet, so shouldn’t the information that is posted on the internet be free to use in any necessary way? Sadly, we live in a country where people want recognition for their accomplishments. People want to protect what is theirs. We don’t want to share. We want credit for our hard work. We want to leave our distinct mark. For this reason, plagiarism is frowned upon and cannot be tolerated in any setting.