Website Wednesday: The Atlantic

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

The Atlantic has been killing it for a few years now, especially on topics related to race, class, and sex/gender, but the pace of excellent readings has picked up decidedly in the last six months or so.

Let’s start with their star. If you’re not on the Te-Nehisi Coates train yet, you should be. Coates’ book Between the World and Me came out last spring and if nothing else introduced a new generation of readers and activists to the work of one of America’s great writers–James Baldwin–through his adoption of of Baldwin’s essay trope. In the book, In his book Coates, like Baldwin, writes a letter to a member of the next generation about what it means to be a young black man in America. The book has provoked a ton of commentary–a review by Michelle Alexander, another by Tressie MC (who also published a really interesting description of her reading process–which I wish I’d read when I was an undergrad or grad student) and ALSO publishes provocative sociological/media commentary like this in The Atlantic), not to mention David Brooks and elsewhere.

But that’s not all he’s done. He also published an EPIC consideration of and argument for Reparations and, more recently, a discussion of “The Black Family in the Age of Incarceration.”

And, as suggested above, it’s not just a one man show. Want to know more about the Black Lives Matter movement? They’ve got you. Want to know more about what some politicians are doing to try to stem the disproportionate violence faced by young black men? They’ve got you.

Maybe you need a break from reading about race? Or you’re interested in intersectionality and want to read and learn more about Gender, or Class (especially as it affects adjuncts–as here in “The Cost of an Adjunct” or here in “There Is No Excuse for How Universities Treat Their Adjuncts.” 

Or maybe you’re interested in seeing what else they’ve written about teaching and learning and colleges–maybe you’re interested in trigger warnings and the recent, splashy argument titled, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” or the bad science of Alcoholics Anonymous, or the cognitive benefits of doodling, or a technological solution, called Project Euler, to learning anything, as told through the author’s efforts to learn coding, or a consideration of the state of stand-up comedy (and, by extension, free speech) on college campuses, or municipal disaster preparedness (and the lack of it), or immigration/political arguments, or privacy and corporate data collection, or David Hume and Allison Gopnik’s mid-life crisis (such a great writer–you should read her stuff and you don’t have to know a thing about Hume to enjoy it).

Check out what they’re doing over there. It’ll make you smarter and give you at least one thing that you can post as a Blackboard link for your students. Promise.

For example, I’ve posted this one for my philosophy students…

Website Wednesday: TurnItIn

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

For years now, I’ve treated plagiarism as a learning opportunity for students. Given how differently students are taught (especially taking into consideration national and international variation in terms, definitions, and valuations) and how varied the levels of enforcement may have been in their educational past, I provide students with a definition in my syllabus and an explanation of the consequences (students found to have plagiarized may dispute the claim and choose to have their paper/appeal reviewed by the college disciplinary committee OR receive a Zero on the assignment, watch a Web tutorial about plagiarism (it’s the one you’ll find in the list of links), and complete an assignment that demonstrates their new, thorough knowledge of the most common varieties of plagiarism prior to submitting their next assignment. A second instance, then, results in an F for the course and referral to the disciplinary committee.

For years I relied on my own sense of students writing–honed through in-class exercises and multiple papers–to find violators, and I still rely primarily on that. Over those years I scrupulously avoided using plagiarism detection software on account of various objections I had to the way it worked–specifically I did not like that students papers would become part of the database and, so, contribute to the profits of the company without compensation to the students (not to mention the possibility of false positives on account of self-plagiarism). Similar objections to mine are discussed here. After years of experimenting (and failing to find) a way to speed up and improve the feedback I got my students on their writing, without sacrificing detail, Jen Asimow finally talked me into giving TurnItIn a try, persuading me that it is easy to provide common comments, as well as paper specific ones, offers a great option for voice recorded feedback, has an opt-out option that allows for keeping the students’ papers out of the company database, and otherwise convincing me that it is a pretty swell tool, and my experiences since have confirmed all that she said and more.

It remains true that some plagiarism slips through, but I don’t care because I don’t really use it for that. I almost never look at the originality reports unless I have suspicions. I’m using it for the feedback capabilities, and I like it pretty good.

Still, plagiarism is their bread-and-butter and this fall I found that they had put out some pretty good stuff on feedback and plagiarism. For example, there is this infographic (and white paper) about student and faculty perceptions related to effective feedback was interesting, and I put this online quiz about plagiarism in the folder full of “Writing Tips” that I post under “Course Resources” in Blackboard for all of my classes. I didn’t tell them that I got two wrong, though.

Anyway, if you’re interested in making more use of TurnItIn, you can (and should) check out their instructor training videos, sorted by topic.

College Night at The Goodman: Disgraced

Sam the Intern writes with the following information:Disgrace Flier

My name is Sam S., the marketing intern at the Goodman Theatre. With our season starting up, the Goodman would like to invite you to attend our upcoming College Night for our show Disgraced on Tuesday September 29th starting at 6PM. Join us for pizza, a discussion with actor Behzad Dabu, and a performance of this straight from Broadway play all for $10!

Click here for a PDF version of the flier if you’d like to hang one in your class or office.

Otherwise, help spread the word!


Website Wednesday: New York Times Magazine Education Issue

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

So, this is less of a specific site recommendation and more of a reading highlight package from last week’s New York Times Magazine, a.k.a., the Education Issue, which was chock full of interesting stuff for reading and thinking about and forwarding to people who talk about higher education but only from the narrow perspective of their own experience, or by parroting “conventional wisdom,” or in blissful unawareness of their own ignorance (or some combination thereof). Anyway, lots of interesting stuff to poke through and ponder and argue about with other people, including:

~What is the Point of College? (by a philosopher I like a lot, Kwame Anthony Appiah)

~Are Lectures Unfair?

~New Data Gives Clearer Picture of Student Debt

~Teaching Working Students

~Is College Really Tuition Too High?

~Teaching Martin Luther King Jr. in the Age of Freddie Gray

~What the Privileged Poor Can Teach Us

Plus there’s this book review–a cautionary tale about how NOT to go about educational reform…”There is another way to approach reform, a way that includes collaboration with the teachers, instead of bullying them or insulting them. A way that involves the community rather than imposing top-down decisions. ”

Sound familiar? Happy reading!

Website Wednesday: New Rambler

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.


The New Rambler is my favorite kind of book review site–the kind where I leave feeling smarter. It’s funded by the University of Chicago law school, but it publishes book reviews on more than legal issues. Their own samuel_johnsondescription of it is as follows: “The New Rambler publishes reviews of books about ideas, including literary fiction. It takes its name from Samuel Johnson’s periodical, The Rambler.” (Yes, that’s a picture of Samuel Johnson there, reading away.)

The reviews cover books on Social Science, International Relations, Business, Political Science, Public Law, Legal Theory, Law and Politics, History, Religion, Literature, Philosophy, Psychology, the Arts and Humanities, and Science, as well as Middle East Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Film and Media Studies, Journalism, and more, all easily searchable by category.

Best is the fact that the reviews are so well written, that by the end of them, I feel like I have read the book (and almost certainly know more about the subject than I would have if I had ONLY read the book). Scroll through the reviews on the first page and see if there’s something that grabs your interest. I bet there will be…

Website Wednesday: BBC’s History of Ideas

Yeah, it’s been awhile since I’ve run this feature, but I figure that since HW is the Online college now, it’s probably the best one to revive.

Not only that, but I got some unexpected inspiration this morning when I fell on this little video about Karl Popper and Falsification:

Which reminded me that the BBC has a great series of videos on big ideas. Check out the Playlist for their whole collection and find brief, fascinating overviews on some huge ideas in Philosophy, especially political philosophy and epistemology–two hot spots in contemporary philosophy.

And be quick about it–from what I understand, the BBC has some financial challenges of its own

Solution for Campus Solutions?

Hello out there…

Anyone know how to look up a student’s academic history in our fabulous new system?

When I’m writing letters of recommendation, I sometimes use students’ history as part of their story. I’ll be dang-nabbed if I can figure out how to find an academic history on our new and “improved” system, though.

Any ideas?