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    A blog by John Warner, author of the story collection Tough Day for the Army, and a novel, The Funny Man, on teaching, writing and never knowing when you're going to be asked to leave.

Recommended Reading: Adaptive Software and More...
May 29, 2013 - 8:53am

While I sometimes feel like I’m wasting my existence on Twitter and Facebook, they can occasionally provide me with invaluable sources of reading.

Several recent essays touch on some of my preoccupations in this space, so I wanted to share them and urge everyone to check them out for themselves.

Adaptive Learning

In the past, I’ve written skeptically (some might say with hostility) about adaptive learning software.

My thoughts are based in my experiences, my intuition, and my values, which is why I was grateful to be pointed towards this article by Dr. Philip McRae, an education scholar who is capable of doing much better.

“Rebirth of the Teaching Machine Through the Seduction of Data Analytics: This Time It’s Personal” looks at the phenomenon of mechanized teaching from a historical, social, theoretical, and economic standpoint. It both confirms and challenges some things I’ve come to believe about adaptive learning software and the lure of “big data” and I can’t recommend it highly enough for people involved in these issues.


College Sports

I’ve also expressed concern about the damage I believe big time athletics is doing to the educational missions at many public universities.

At, Alex Mayyasi takes a thorough look at the economics of college sports and sees a “Pseudo-business.”

I believe he makes a convincing case that big-time athletics, primarily football, have gone well past the point of rationality. They are a drain on public and student funds and serve to transfer wealth from athletes to coaches and administrators.

That these highly commercialized entities are associated with non-profit public universities ceases to make any rational or moral sense.

Mayyasi has an argument for just about any defense of the current state of college sports.

Agreement is obviously not required, but it’s a thoughtful piece chock full of data and evidence.


“An Ethic of Social Media for Teachers of Writing”

Like any other teacher, I occasionally enjoy a little hallway or office conversation with my colleagues about the latest student “blooper” in a piece of writing

But I’ve always felt odd whenever I see these things pop up on Facebook or Twitter and therefore resisted joining in with my own examples.

J. Robert Lennon nails the reasons for my squeamishness in his essay.

I’m grateful to have an actual well-reasoned and ethically sound framework that allows me to consider how my teaching intersects with my use of social media.


Twitter is where we find these things.



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