Entries by Reverend

Hitchcock Motifs

UMW Art History professor JeanAnn Dabb is teaching a Freshman Seminar on Alfred Hitchcock. Few subjects in this world are more compelling than Hitchcock’s films, and it’s hard to think of a better excuse to run a course blog. So, that’s exactly what JeanAnn did, and you can find it here: http://hitchcock.umwblogs.org. That’s right, a little bit of old school UMW Blogs to temper all this Domain of One’s Own rah rah rah 🙂

GIFs, Chinese History Style

The students in Sue Fernsebner’s Chinese History through Film course have been hard at work creating GIFs as part of their film analyses. There are a bunch of excellent GIFs that try and capture a particularly significant moment within the film they’re analyzing. For example, the GIF analysis for the film Not One Less (1999) effectively focuses on the film’s recurring use of chalk to frame the underfunding of rural elementary schools in China. I really like how the student uses the GIFs to capture the chalk moments, the only thing is they are far too big and need to be optimized so they’ll load in the browser.

500 Open Courses on UMW Blogs

At the beginning of every semester I get a hankering to post something about UMW Blogs. I don’t know why, it has arrived to the point that it’s more like air than technology around campus at this point. We regularly have more than 50 faculty using this platform any given semester as a space to share their teaching out in the open, and after five and a half years of UMW Blogs now  have more than 500 courses on the system (and this doesn’t include courses from the 2007/2008 academic year—we didn’t start tracking them until Fall 08). What’s more, since we started tracking traffic on UMW Blogs in the Fall of 2009 we have had more than five million unique visitors and almost twelve million page views—two million of which came last semester alone.

Five hundred open educational experiences laid bare to the world at large, each one a love letter to the ideal of thinking, sharing, and creating on the open web as part of a public institution. To be clear absolutely clear, a number of those courses have been taught several times, and the courses are uneven to say the least. But that’s part of the experience—it must remain a space for experimentation, and with that comes false starts, mid-stream re-thinking, and, sometimes, abandonment of an experiment gone awry in order to re-group for the next one. Not failure but learning. I want to take a moment to recognize all the awesome faculty, students, and staff at UMW that make this kind of sharing of the work we do possible on a regular basis, you all rock!

Civil Rights Leader James Farmer’s UMW Lectures Online

More than five years ago DTLT started working with UMW’s archivist Carolyn Parsons to try and digitize James Farmer’s video lecture series recorded here at UMW in 1983. The lecture series is an awesome historical resource featuring James Farmer—one of the greatest orators of the 20th century—re-telling his compelling experiences as a civil rights activist in the South during the 1960s. And while the project laid dormant for many years, thankfully Jeff McClurken’s and four of his students in Adventures in Digital History class resurrected it and brought it to life online.

Laura Donahue, Michelle Martz and Caitlin Murphy and Kelsey Matthews archived, transcribed, and contextualized 13 of Farmer’s lectures from 1983. What’s more, they’ve created what is arguably the single best resource site yet to see light on UMW Blogs: http://jamesfarmerlectures.umwblogs.org/

The vertical hold on the VHS tapes with the first 4 lectures were in such bad shape that they’ve been shipped out for professional preservation, however the audio has been captured and archived. The other nine videos are working perfectly, and I highly recommend you do yourself a favor and listen/watch to this legendary figure talk about Civil Rights during the 60s—it is truly amazing stuff.