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Showing posts from September, 2012

Online Teaching and Cheating Made Easy

We Take Your Online Class! We Do Your Homework, Tests, Classes For You!

What needs to be written about the above link and dozens more like it?

Online and distance education are at least slightly more prone to cheating, and I wonder if they are not significantly more prone to dishonestly than their traditional and hybrid counterparts.

Students have been able to purchase papers for as long as instructors have assigned papers. We all know that friends "help" each other, and sometimes even parents help compose a paper. Yet, buying a paper reveals a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of an education.

Now, we have to deal with students buying class attendance. Forget cheating on tests or buying papers, students aren't even attending the online lectures. Cheating is bad enough, but at least if you were in a classroom there was a chance (maybe only a slight chance) that you would learn something. You might hear one new idea, one inspiring comment. Some…

Trying to Reboot a Wikibook

A few years ago, a colleague and I at the University of Minnesota helped our students launch a Wikibook project on professional and technical writing. The link to the project is:

I am posting this to two blogs, one on rhetoric and one on digital pedagogy, with the hope that someone out there has a class that could reboot this project and bring it back to life. I had only four students in my technical writing course this spring, at a small private university, and they edited a few pages. However, the project needs to be much larger than four students every other year if it is going to thrive.

My view is that students in a variety of courses could update and expand the project. The book needs material on ethics, communication theory, visual design, style guides, and more. I'm sure there are dozens of topics that could be tackled by students.

Please, consider asking your students to contribute to this project. The id…


Which documentation standards do we decide what to teach students, and does it matter? In this post, I'm going to explain why I teach students in my technical writing courses XHTML for Web design instead of HTML5.

My suggestion is to teach what works most consistently across computing platforms, knowing that the standards of today will be replaced. Documentation file formats and coding habits should adhere to standards because one of the goals of technical documentation is that it be easy to update and revise at a later date.

Teaching documentation, therefore, should include teaching the ideal habits for technical writers and documentation designers.

Consider HTML and XHTML. Long before standards bodies, such as the W3C, approve and finalize any standard, experience teaches us that the browser developers will have already implemented a mix of whatever is coming — and each browser will be an incomplete and incompatible mess. I still remember trying to get basic features to wo…

Internet Radio: Something for Everyone

Visalia Direct: Virtual Valley
September 3, 2012 Deadline
October 2012 Issue

Internet Radio: Something for Everyone

Radio has changed dramatically since I first wrote about Internet radio five years ago. Way back in 2007, you needed a computer with a broadband Internet connection to listen to streaming audio. Today, I listen to live BBC broadcasts on my iPhone while taking walks.

You can stream audio from the Internet through car radios, televisions, stereo systems, and even an “Internet-ready” refrigerator is sold with a streaming audio app. Most Blu-ray players and high-end home audio receivers include Internet radio features, often via the Pandora streaming audio service.

Streaming audio has been available on the Internet since the mid-1990s. RealNetworks launched in 1995, with the RealPlayer featuring a few dozen audio streams. Despite pioneering streaming audio and video-on-demand services, RealNetworks was unable to establish itself as the leading Internet radio provider. I can’…