Five years ago when a few savvy instructors rushed to integrate the Web into their teaching and put their syllabi online the idea exchange so crucial to academia was alive and well in the teaching realm of our work. A few years later, witness how various password-protected courseware adopted by so many campuses is making it increasingly impossible to see othersí teaching materials. Sure, some people may not want to share their syllabi, but I suspect many wouldnít mind. Regardless, the increasing proliferation of these services makes the teaching side of our work less and less visible to a wider audience.Eszter Hargittai, “The un(?)intended consequences of courseware“
The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing.
In terms of web resources, what do those who teach courses in English need that a committed group of bloggers might create? I’m not talking about software, mind you, but I’m agreeing with the assumption that the open source philosophy can be successfully applied to all kinds of projects. We’re all going to be coming up with course materials anyway. Why not collaborate or at least share?
Jack Lynch, who doesn’t have a blog but should, has an impressive Guide to Grammar and Style that might prove useful as well as an unfinished Glossary of Literary and Rhetorical Terms. I have a brief guide to the mechanics of quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing in MLA style. Of course, materials like these are widely available in print, but when so many of us are creating websites for our courses, it is more than a little convenient to be able to link directly directly to information that students will find helpful.
Would it make sense to create a group blog devoted to teaching English language and literature, one where ideas could be exchanged, resources shared, pointers to already existing sites posted, websites collaboratively created?
Consider these questions:
- What have you created that you’d like to share with others?
- What have you found on the web that has been most useful in your teaching?
- What have you not found that you wish were out there? What’s on your wish list?
Can we work to make these things available without taking an inordinate amount of time out of our already busy schedules?
Update 1: And if you think this is a good idea, please mention this post in your blog to increase the chances that potentially interested parties, who may or may not read my blog, find out about it.
Update 2: Okay, possibilities for format include a database (like DISC: A Disability Studies Academic Community, using MySQL) a blog (like the many group authored blogs out there using MovableType), a Wiki (like the Wikipedia), or some combination of such things.