Just a brief memory to share for a Sunday morning…
While preparing for an article I’ll be writing for the newspaper later today, I did a Google search for my committee chair, Michael Sexson. Sexson, who was one of the most inspiring professors of my undergraduate career, is performing at the ancient Presbyterian church here in Bozeman this afternoon in the persona of John N. Maclean, father of the famed author Norman Maclean. John Maclean was the pastor of that church for five years near the turn of the twentieth century.
There were plenty of links to his books and articles on Wallace Stevens and also to his apparently popular article “The Deja Vu Glitch in the Matrix.” On a whim I then decided to search for “e-journals Sexson,” knowing that Sexson now asks all of his students to set up blogs for their classes to act as public course diaries.
There were many results, as Sexson has had many students in the last four years. Each of them has had a blog, and most of those blogs are still up and running (perhaps not updated, but at least running). I recommend taking some time to read a few of them, as they are very good examples of undergraduate writing and research.
I was reminded that back when I took my first Sexson class, the e-journal was an optional, extra-credit assignment. Back then, in the heady days of 2002, most of his journals were handed in in printed form, written out in compsition notebooks. It was after my first year that he decided to make them mandatory. Apparently, he saw that the blogs allowed for user comments; and Sexson saw that it was good. So we ventured on from there.
My first blog for one of his classes was not a blog at all, but a simple Web page that I added new posts to from time to time using Dreamweaver (I wasn’t yet knowledgable enough in HTML to do much more than the paragraph tag). Then, a computer foul-up forced me to switch over to a new service for a while: Blogger. And by “new service,” I mean new. Blogger was barely out of its swaddling clothes then, certainly not owned by Google, like now.
That was my start into blogging, and the rest is history. I now require my students to have blogs for class journals, and some of them say they like it a lot. I like introducing undergrads to a medium they may never have considered before and seeing that it fascinates a few of them. You can’t catch them all, of course–my IT director roommate has an odd distaste for blogs, go figure. He doesn’t see the point.
Then again, he’s a computer-slash-business major.
At any rate, and by way of conclusion, I’ll say this: I’m glad Sexson made the blogs mandatory in his classes. More fresh blood on the Web makes for better dialogue (polylogue? hyperlogue?). Better dialogue online puts us closer and closer to that democratic ideal that Nelson had for the Net back in the 1960s, and I think that’s something worth writing for.