Missed the Inaugural Debate Series?

Image courtesy of Anand Rao

Image courtesy of Anand Rao

Well, don’t beat yourself up over it because professors Anand Rao and Tim O’Donnell made sure they thoroughly documented the occasion with some awesome images, as well as video recordings of all three debates. You can find all these resources on the site they created for the event here. More specifically, if you are interested in watching the debate between Mary Washington’s finest and the University of Southern California you can find it here, and we even embedded it below for good measure.

Download UMW vs USC in the 2009 Inaugural Debate Series

Prof. LaRochelle is bringing Spanish to UMW Blogs in a big way

We don’t have a lifetime achievement award for UMW Blogs yet, but I think professor Jeremy LaRochelle of the Modern Foreign Languages department would certainly be in the running if we did. Over the past four semesters he has been quietly introducing his his courses to this publishing platform as a tool to track their reading reactions, writing skills, and analytical acumen, while encouraging them to give feedback to one another’s thoughts. One of the most impressive elements of prof. LaRochelle’s approach is that he is able to give everyone their own blogging space, yet at the same time encourage solid feedback and commenting across sites, and for anyone who has used a blog for a course you’ll probably agree this is one of the hardest practices to foster.

If you take a look at his seven course blogs spanning four semesters you’ll quickly get an idea of the extent students are encouraged to think and write openly about the work they are doing. Which covers everything from reading environmental literature to working through grammar and composition to writing about ecology in a freshman seminar. Moreover, this collective work is putting a tremendous amount of thought, analysis and discussion about a number of Latin America authors that have little if any other exposure online. His work has been constantly evolving and experimenting with this publishing space, and it was high time it was applauded here. Bravo! Bravo!

Inauguration Debate Series

Click on image to view poster.

Click on image to view poster.

On January 19, 2009, which is both Martin Luther King Jr. day as well as the eve of the Inauguration of America’s 44th President, UMW’s nationally recognized Debate Team–lead by the fearless prof. Tim O’Donnell—will be part of a landmark Inaugural Debate Series sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. At 11:30 a.m. UMW debaters will be facing off against the University of Southern California debate team on the priorities of the next administration, more specifically on the the topics of health care and the economy–should be a doozy!

Find more information from the Smithsonian Institute site here.

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Communication and the 2008 Presidential Campaign

Professor John Morello’s Communication 370 course (or “Communication and the 2008 Presidential Campaign”) provides a really powerful model for using a course as a video publishing platform, a space for critical media studies, as well as a forum for discussion about the election as it unfolds. Each of the students in this course created their own short speech in support of their candidate of choice (you can see examples here), which were then posted on a third-party service of their choice and embedded on the course blog (see the technical guidelines for this process here).

Yet, the videos were only one part of this course, there was also the on-going campaign commentaries, dissection of campaign ads, as well as timely discussions about the political implications of the economic crisis. All of which made for a dynamic and open forum leading up to election night. And when I say open, I mean open. Numerous comments and discussions on the site came from people that were not part of the class (or even the UMW Community), but were still intensely interested in discussing the election. The fact that both Barack Obama and Sarah Pallin campaigned in Fredericksburg during the final stretch made this course all the more discoverable and relevant to the local community.

But what’s really engaging about the way professor Morello used this space resides in how a web-based course site quickly transformed into an open forum that not only allowed the students to bring in relevant resources from all over the web effortlessly, but also encouraged the class to both create web-based media and engage their classmates and the community out in the open.