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About the Pondering

People have asked me (okay, two people) what "Poet Ponders" is meant to be. What is my purpose? I now will attempt to clarify what makes "Poet Ponders" different from my blogs on rhetoric or writing.

"Poet Ponders Pedagogy" is meant to address the role technology plays within the science and art of education. This is not a blog for general political rants, thoughts on the latest fiction, or photos of my cats. This blog is a place to explore how teaching and learning are affected by hardware and software. As a teacher, how does technology shape my experiences and those of my students?

We have moved beyond the early "Digital Age" and through the "Interactive Web 2.0" trends. Now, our students occupy the "Social Media Age" and the Internet is much more than e-mail and the World Wide Web. Writing has been affected by Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and dozens of other "quick" media. These technologies enforce a brevity with its roots in technological limitations: the 120 to 160 characters squeezed out of "Short Message Service" (SMS) cell phone packets.

While our students (and some of us) embraced the Social Media, our colleges and universities slowly embraced the Web. At the moment, many schools are at Web 1.5 -- if we are fortunate.

Some of the topics I have and will continue to address on "Poet Ponders" include:
  • Learning Management System / Course Management System (LMS/CMS) platforms such as Moodle and the various Blackboard applications.
  • Collaborative tools, such as Wikis and group blogs created and maintained by students.
  • Applications to support the writing process, from brainstorming to editing, and how they affect writing.
  • Technical challenges supporting various students and faculty skill sets.
  • Student expectations versus the realities of online and partially-online (hybrid) courses. 
  • Evaluation tools, methods, and standards for online education, including student digital portfolios.

Technical Background

I have enjoyed computer programming since the late 1970s. Like many of my generation, I was a self-taught BASIC coder who then moved on to Pascal, C, and other languages over time. One of my regrets is not completing a degree with more of a software development emphasis. There is something about elegant code that is poetic.

My coding experiences range from simple video games to complex point-of-sale systems. Most business and productivity software involves databases of some sort. Working out relationships between sets of data is like solving a wonderful puzzle. Next to my desk are binders filled with my thoughts on database design and computer languages. General purpose programming languages seem ill-suited to some tasks, even with elaborate frameworks for database work. 

As you can tell, I could easily lose myself for hours exploring technical topics. Yet, I didn't pursue programming as a career. When I went off to college, I worked for the computing services — but I thought I was going to be a science and technology journalist. We need journalists familiar with the STEM fields; too many "technical writers" are not technically inclined.   

Educational Credentials

I have a doctorate from the University of Minnesota, a master of arts with distinction from California State University Fresno (a.k.a. Fresno State), and undergraduate degrees from the University of Southern California. My graduate school research projects covered designing applications and websites to comply with special education laws and regulations. The submission report for my dissertation:

Online Pedagogy: Designing Writing Courses for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Dissertation / Final Research Categories
736 : Speech and Rhetorical Studies
810 : Educational / Instructional Media Design
835 : Special Education
864 : English Education

My research interest remains writing, in general, and how technology is shaping written communication. However, I'm still a computer programmer — though I lack "technical" credentials. Again, I now wish I had completed a more obviously software-related degree since people do not associate my degrees with technical skills.

More Info

For a more general blog on writing, I suggest the Tameri Blog on Writing and Reading. If you are interested in rhetoric and communication skills, I suggest following Rogue Rhetorician.

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