Image of the Week #18: Will You? Won't You?

The Wellesley News (01-17-1918) Article 1

What Is It

An article from the Wellesley News, the student newspaper of Wellesley College, from the late 1910s. 


Why I Find It Interesting

I don't even know where to begin with this article.  I'm curious to know what "making too free with the sailors--just the edge of immoral conduct or just the road to it" means according to the author.  And exactly how has Hale House "coralled them"?  What kind of "legitimate wholesome form of amusement" do they plan to dispense with on Wednesday night for the ladies?  I enjoy pieces like these that hint at so much but tell you so little.  They can lead one to research the answer or become the cornerstones of interesting stories to be written.

This submission is part of the Image of the Week series.  For access to all photos, which are open for reuse under a Creative Commons License, check out the full album on Flickr.

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The PhD Chronicles: Acceptance...and acceptance.

By the time you read this, I'll have been in a PhD program for a year--so my "Acceptance" into a program isn't new by anyone's reckoning.  I'm publishing this a year later as I feel it will be an interesting experience to be reminded of my initial experiences well after they have been formed.  I think also as I begin to reflect on finishing my first year, it will give me some thoughts to see what my initial experience was.  

So, here is my letter of acceptance:


Acceptance letter

I am glad that I have been accepted into University of Massachusetts, Boston, PhD in Higher Education program.  I feel like it is the next step in my own development and understanding about higher education.  After all, I have spent 17 of the last 18 years in higher education either as a student, an instructor, or a professional staff member (or some form of up-to all 3 at times).  

However, I found this start a bit bumpy and problematic for a program that is supposed to be about "Higher Education."  

The Process
The initial application process appeared straightforward.  Yet I still encountered a few small issues that entailed me to contact the email that was listed on this page.  Sometimes, they were answered and sometimes they weren't.  Of the six emails I sent over six months from beginning of the application until the finish, I got two replies.  

I got my ducks in a row and applied.  The deadline was February 1st but I made sure to have all my documents in by early January.  I received a Doodle poll email on February 23rd for an interview in early March.  

I interviewed on Friday, March 6 and was told that I would be informed in early April about a decision.  They explained that things were delayed because of the snow storms that hit New England that February.  Early April came and I began checking the mailbox every day.  We passed April 10, which to me means it is no longer "early April."

On April 15th, I receive an email from the director, who said he wanted to talk on the phone and answer any questions that I might have and discuss next steps.  Interesting, but vague.  I replied to inquire if I had been accepted into the program as I hadn't received written confirmation yet.  (One of those emails to the Contact Us was about how I had changed my address in the interim between applying and interviewing).  

He said that my application was still under review.  It sounds strange and I wasn't the only one applying to this program that felt this way.  I went ahead with the phone call two days later where he did inform me that they were recommending me for the program, but that it would be Graduate Admissions that makes the final decision and sends out the acceptance letters.  

I was happy but without the actual confirmation, it still left me leery.  I informed him of the address change and emailed him right after the phone conversation thanking him and updating the address.  He told me that I should see the letter by April 27.  It showed up on April 29th.  It was delayed because it was sent to my old address.

The Experience
Much of this has been a somewhat disappointing introduction to the program.  This is program about the very institution that creates the program--it's meta in many ways and thus far, it reminds me of my experience with my Instructional Design degree.  It doesn't demonstrate what it preaches.  

The first issue is the failure of email responses.  Missing one I can understand but four out of six seems problematic. 

The second issue is the delay.  I got actual confirmation for the program on April 29 for a program that I had to commit to for the first three weeks in June.  There's a lot of planning and work that needs to be done to prepare for the program and to prepare for the absence from work.  Added to this is that with each day that passes, my belief that I would be accepted wavered.  

The final issue was the address on my acceptance letter.  What was the point of sending the updated address to the director?  That was sent on April 17--5 days before the acceptance letter was printed.  

Reflection
In the big picture, these are small issues but they are enough to make me a bit more skeptical about the program.  I am excited about the program for lots of reasons but these small indications of a program that can't do what it's suppose to do best does set off the spidey-sense.  


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Review: Sweet Tooth, Vol. 6: Wild Game

Sweet Tooth, Vol. 6: Wild Game Sweet Tooth, Vol. 6: Wild Game by Jeff Lemire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The end of this series (Sweet Tooth) was a bittersweet. It was an enjoyable, quirky, and intriguing story that reminds me why I try to read everything that he contributes to. It's a post-apocalyptic story with an adoptive father and destine-born strange child, but Lemire still manages to make it engaging and curious.

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Review: The Art of Explanation - Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easier to Understand

The Art of Explanation - Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easier to Understand The Art of Explanation - Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easier to Understand by Lee LeFever
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many are familiar with LeFever even if they may not think they are. He is the leader of CommonCraft which produces those great videos about technology "in plain English." This book provides a breakdown of exactly how they manage to create such accessible and easy-to-understand explanations of complicated and interesting topics. It's highly useful in that he provides a good set of tools to help the reader reconsider how one would properly explain things. He shows that we often think we are great at explain but very rarely are we as successful as we like to think we are. I found that it would be quite useful not just for "idea, products and services" but also for teaching.

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Article Summary #17: Performance Gaps between Online and Face-to-Face Courses: Differences across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas

Citation: Xu, D., & Jaggars, S. S. (2014). Performance Gaps between Online and Face-to-Face Courses: Differences across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas. Journal Of Higher Education, 85(5), 633-659.
Word cloud of the article: Performance Gaps between Online and Face-to-Face Courses

Summary: This article assessed the performance gap between F2F and online courses along ethnicity, gender, age, study, and academic preparation.  The authors used a dataset of 500,000 online and F2F courses and 40,000 students from Washington State's community college system. The results showed that enrollment patterns vary according to subject area (higher in humanities and social sciences, lower in sciences, math, and engineering).  The performance gap between online and F2F courses according to subject area was also identified, though education, mass communication, and health and physical education were not significant.  The authors revealed a 3% gap in completion and .20 difference in grades of the courses.  All subgroups studied showed negative outcomes in the online environment, but the size varied; men did worse than women and African Americans did worse than Asian-American students.  Older students did slightly poorer in F2F courses but slightly better in online courses than younger (24 and below) students.  Students with more academic preparation and stronger GPAs had less of a performance gap in online courses. Overall, the research suggests that gaps in the F2F are further extended in the online realm.  They recommend three possible approaches to address the gap:  screening, early warning, and scaffolding within courses.

Keywords: online education, nontraditional student, community college, access, performance gap, f2f vs online




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Short Story #382: The Other Gods by H. P. Lovecraft

Title:  The Other Gods 

Author:  H. P. Lovecraft

Summary:

Book cover to H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Collection with Accompanying Facts from Red Skull Publishing
The story begins by describing how the gods love to gather on mountain tops but that man has continually chased them away in an attempt to see them.  Finally, they have found the last and highest mountain, Kadath,  far removed so they can gather.  But Barzai the Wise, a prophet of Ulthar has finally determined not only where the gods gather but the best time to approach the mountain to witness the gods.  With the help of Atal, the high priest, they journey forward to the mountain and set to scale mountain.  The climb is treacherous but the elderly Barzai climbs it with energy and excitement.  Atal follows but the distance increasingly lengthens.  As they get above the cloud line, Atal can only hear Barzai and his fervor as he gets closer to the peak.  At one point, the orientation of the mountain changes and it feels almost as if they are no longer scaling up but going down.  It's at this point that Barzai proclaims he is close to seeing the gods gather and dance.  However, his hysteria turns to horror as he encounters the Other Gods, the gods of hell who protect the gods of earth in the mountain.  He cries in terror as he claims to be falling into the sky.  He is never heard from again and Atal returns.  Later, when there is no eclipse and it is a clear day, the men of Ulthar and elsewhere scale the mountain looking for Barzai and find nothing but a large stone symbol that also appears in the Pnakotic Manuscripts.


Reflection

It's a curious but simple tale warning to beware of the gods.  We never fully get attached to Barzai or Atal and therefore, their loss is interesting but not meaningful.  It feels a bit short and underdeveloped as tales go.  Lovecraft seems too interested in weaving a mythology for his readers--which is important and useful across his texts but in this one, the lack of real emotional pull toward the two men means what they experience seems less compelling.   

Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)

Source:  I read this version  of a the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft from Red Skull Publishing (that's their book cover too).  However, you can find all of H. P. Lovecraft's work for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.


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Image of the Week #17: Prometheus UnPunned

The Wellesley News (05-27-1920)

What Is It

A joke from the Wellesley News, the student newspaper of Wellesley College, from the late 1910s. 


Why I Find It Interesting

I love me a good pun.  I remember always liking bad jokes but it was the language teacher in sixth grade who introduced me to the word, "pun."  I can't remember his name, but he gave us a potpourri of languages so that we could decide which language we wanted to pursue in 7th and 8th grade.  He took a particular liking/disliking to me since I was (to no one's surprise) a bit of a smart-ass.  After one remark, he made me go home and find out what "pun" means and I've been using it ever sense.  So, present me with a pun, and I'll be your new best friend.  Make that pun a reference to Frankenstein and it's like hitting triple word score on Scrabble (or Words With Friends for you, youngin's).  


This submission is part of the Image of the Week series.  For access to all photos, which are open for reuse under a Creative Commons License, check out the full album on Flickr.

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Reflections from Changing Lives Through Literature

In my two most recent sessions of Changing Lives Through Literature, I decided to have the participants do a reflection that I often do in my college courses that I teach.  On the last meeting, I asked all the participants to write a letter to themselves.  However, this wasn't a letter to their present self--but to the person they were months prior on our first meeting.  It's an interesting experience to watch participants struggle through this question and think about the ways they have (or haven't) connected with what's gone on in the course.  I also asked them to indicate if they would allow me to share out their letters (anonymously) to show other people their experiences.  While I will share them here in this blog post for others to read and appreciate, my favorite use of them is to show them to the participants in the next group as they get to hear from people at the other end at the very beginning. 

word cloud of post on changing lives through literature
It's a great exercise in coming full circle and feel free to use it with your group or in any other context. 

In reading the responses, I was so impressed with some of the different ways people embraced the experience and also in how they wanted to emphasize that change to themselves.  It's a pretty strong reward as a facilitator to seen the participants being such strong advocates. 

Participant #1
Hey, what's up!

You are going to enjoy it.  You need to be open to change.  You can't judge a book by its cover.  The stories need to be given a chance.  Don't be afraid and give them a chance.  I found myself reading the stories two or three times and learning a new thing every reread. Enjoy it!  It is not like school.  Plus you get $150 remitted off your fees.  Best of luck!

Participant #2
Dear Me

Hey man, how's life?  I just want to write to you to give you some advice about this course that I've taken.  It's called Changing Lives Through Literature.  It's a great class.  I have learned so many different skills in reading with the different stories and how to compare it to you and how it compares in life.  I will say, this class will give you a brand new view in life, like people have to go through difference obstacles just to get through or not get through the situation.  I will say, this class will change your life. 

Participant #3
Before class I was too quick to judge by not thinking before I acted.  Things just kind of ran together in my mind without though.  Over the course of the program, I realized a lot if I just thought things out.  The structure of the program also helped me think in a way where I can put things together a lot better in my head and my life has improved for the better.  If this was offered to me earlier on in life, things would have been different dramatically.  It will definitely last a lifetime with decision making. 

Participant #4
As I write this it is too late for me but maybe not for you.  Be aware of the various opinions and observations of the others in the class are not how you experienced the stories.  They all saw and felt something different.  They had and saw different things. 
            I was frustrated and wondered are they all blind or just different people who see and feel differently.  Does everyone experience everything so differently?

Participant #5
There are benefits to this class aside from the reduced probation time and fees.  Be sure to read each selection well in advance and be sure to reflect on the stories before class.  Think about how the different literary tools are used so you have plenty of points to bring up during the weekly discussions.

Participant #6
Please be as open-minded as you possibly can and consider where you yourself have been before placing judgment on things or people.  You can change and you can better yourself.  Even if it's small steps you take to progress towards chance, you are being pro-active in what you need to do. 
            Also and finally, advocate for yourself and ask for the help and resources if you need it.  Stay positive!

Participant #7
Dear Self,

This course is very helpful to be a part of.  It will help being in a group and sharing your thoughts with others as you discuss the readings assigned.  It will be fun to share in conversation about the readings and find others' opinions and ideas.  It will also help to open your mind through different characters in the stories and see through their struggles.  It will help you be more mindful about the days of your life as you move forward. 

Participant #8
Don't be so nervous and scared to be around new people.  It won't be as difficult as you may be thinking - stop thinking that everyone will judge you on what you have to say.  Realize what a great feeling it will be on your last day of class that you actually did it and followed through with a commitment.

Participant #9
Dear Me,

While recovering and thinking back on these 12 weeks of "Changing Lives Through Literature" I feel like a new individual.  This class is liberating, fun, and challenging but worth it all.  Please try hard and read twice, think deeper into the text; why and where and how are great questions to ask no matter what text, story or novel you are reading.  Try to have an open mind and enjoy.  I DID! XOXO

Participant #10
Dear Self,

Please come into this with a completely open mind.  That everything you know--everything you think you know best about--leave it at the door.  Be prepared to explore things about yourself you don't know anything about.  Be prepared to not always be right or that your opinion or ideas are not always right or the only way.  Be kind and generous to everyone you experiencing the adventure with.  That even when you think you are not able to relate to some of the stories or that they are so farfetched from who you are or what you have lived--changes are you haven't looked deep enough at yourself - so be open and willing to listen and learn from the stories and everyone in the class. 




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Review: Elric of Melniboné

Elric of Melniboné Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So if you search through my Goodreads books, there is a good amount of fantasy in there but I had never picked up Moorcock's work. I actually liked this one and am tempted to read a few more. It's nothing great or inspiring but it had good progression to it--it didn't linger to long (I'm looking at you, late Robert Jordan). It reminded me a lot (for obvious reasons) of the DragonLance and Forgotten Realms series.

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Review: No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the journalist who broke the NSA spying programs by being one of the few voices that Snowden found trustworthy in the news media, Greenwald's account of their encounters, the NSA programs, and the harrassment he has experienced since revealing the traitorous acts of our own country, is a must read. Beyond providing a much better context for the events that occurred, Greenwald provides an articulate and damning critique of contemporary media and it's inability to deliver real news or challenge authority. He raises a great many and interesting points about security, identity, and freedom that we should all be asking ourselves.

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Article Summary #16: The Representation of Minority, Female, and Non-Traditional Stem Majors in the Online Environment at Community Colleges: A Nationally Representative Study

Citation: Wladis, C., Hachey, A. C., & Conway, K. M. (2015). The Representation of Minority, Female, and Non-Traditional Stem Majors in the Online Environment at Community Colleges: A Nationally Representative Study. Community College Review, 43(1), 89-114.
Word cloud of article: The Representation of Minority Female and Non-Traditional Stem Majors

Summary: By analyzing a 2300 student data-set, this article examined what differences and similarities exist among community college STEM majors who enroll or not in online courses with particularly attention to ethnicity, genders, and student status (traditional vs. nontraditional) and whether there was proportional representation in the online courses.  This analysis was compared to another data-set of 18,400 STEM majors enrolled in four-year programs at public and not-for-profit colleges.  The analysis revealed that Hispanic students were less likely to enroll online courses at a community college than a four -year school while women were more likely to enroll at a community college than a four-year college.  The analyses showed that Black, Hispanic and White males and Hispanic females were underrepresented in online when compared to white females.  Nontraditional student status remained a strong predictor in enrolling in online courses.  The study showed that under-representation among non-white students exist in online STEM courses like online courses overall. Though the research captured discrepancies in online enrollment, it avoided diagnosing given that limited research has been done to capture the different populations and their reasons for taking online courses.  

Keywords: STEM, gender, community college, online education, ethnicity, nontraditional student



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Short Story #381: Celephais by H. P. Lovecraft

Title:  Celephais 

Author:  H. P. Lovecraft

Summary:

Book cover to H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Collection with Accompanying Facts from Red Skull Publishing
Kuranes unexpectedly finds the lost city of Celephais.  It is a magical city that he once visited in his dreams when he was a child.  As the last aristocrat of a long lineage, he spends much of his life seeking and looking for this city from his dreams.  However, accessing the dream always entails a sequence of events.  He starts at his ancestral home at night and walks through the town, though no one is ever quite sure if people are asleep or dead.  He arrives at a cliff and steps off the cliff, where he floats down and enters a rift that then has him descending the sky into Celephais.  Here, he is cordially greeted and eventually takes a boat ride to meet where the sea meets the sky.  This renewed experience pushes him to try to find a means to return.  He continues to spend his days sleeping and acquires various drugs to induce sleep.  These spells bring him to all sorts of new realms in the world beyond, but never to Celephais.  In the real world, his spending has led him to lose his ancestral home and to wander the streets.  During his travels into one town, he is met by an entourage of knights from Celephais who inform him that he is to be god of the lands of Celephais.  They begin the journey to bring him home and as they travel through the lands, Kuranes notes that it seems like they are going back further and further in time.  Eventually, they arrive at his ancestral home and take to the city to rule over.  The story ends by explaining that he still reigns in that land of dream for in the real world, his body crashes upon the shores of Innsmouth.


Reflection

Lovecraft blends the fantastical world of dream with the challenging world of madness.  We are never sure that Kuranes is mad or not--a typical aspect of Lovecraft.  But we don't need to know--he has apparently found his place to be, even though in the real world he has died an ignoble death.  We are fascinated by the world of Celephais and the means by which Kuranes access it.  Here too, Lovecraft locks into the idea of the imaginative worlds of our childhood dreams are so very often lost to us and recapturing them proves tricky and even deadly.  This is not the first of tales where Lovecraft borrows from other places, but I am increasingly fascinated how often he sought to connect the world of his tales and I'm racking my brain for other authors who might have done this previously or was Lovecraft one of the first.  That is, who else built a mythology and range of fantastical elements that supposedly take place in the normalized world across numerous pieces of fiction?

Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)

Source:  I read this version  of a the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft from Red Skull Publishing (that's their book cover too).  However, you can find all of H. P. Lovecraft's work for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.


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Image of the Week #16: Knitting in Chapel

The Wellesley News (05-29-1919)

What Is It

An article from the Wellesley News, the student newspaper of Wellesley College, from the late 1910s. 


Why I Find It Interesting

This post had me grinning like the idiot I am.  I'm amused because I think many of us wouldn't think of anything wrong with knitting in public and many of us find it an admirable skill.  However, the author's tone makes the act sound like something only a depraved individual would do.  In fact, I think this reminds me so much of the tone that people have (myself included at one point) with people with cellphones. The self-righteous condemnation of people for not behaving in the way deemed proper has always been a means of class-corralling and apparently is one that isn't going away any time soon.

This submission is part of the Image of the Week series.  For access to all photos, which are open for reuse under a Creative Commons License, check out the full album on Flickr.

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

March's Gratitude

Each morning when I get up, the first thing I do when I fire up the computer (ok, maybe like the 2nd or 3rd thing once on the computer) is to do my daily gratitude.  It reminds me of Jon Stewart's Daily Moment of Zen--but one that is much more centering and meaningful.  

Each day, it's three acknowledgments.  Some days, I'm moved to do more but at least a minimum of three:
Word cloud of gratitude for March 2016

"I am thankful for..."
"I appreciate..."
"I am grateful for..."

Sometimes, I return to things that I truly cherish: loved ones, basic necessities (shelter, food), and health.  Other times, I reflect on what has occurred in the last 24 hours that seem to resonate with me.  Of course, I also try to capture the small pieces of life to be thankful for and the pieces that are so easy to take for granted.  

In doing this daily ritual, it allows me to think about the myriads of ways that I am privileged.  I know that as much of that privilege stems from being a hard worker and ever-diligent in my pursuit to improve myself but it is also substantially informed by my position in society as a white, perceived-heterosexual male from middle class.  Though I continue to struggle with such privileges, I do believe it is important to acknowledge and give thanks to the luxuries that life has afforded me--knowing well enough that it is a matter of birth and circumstance, and not necessarily skill, that has put me in the position to have so much in my life. 

I also find it necessary to speak to and acknowledge these privileges and luxuries when I am faced with some level (big or small) absence of them in my life.  What I mean is that often when I am sick with a cold, I will be thankful for my health or merely acknowledge that despite being sick, I can receive the care I need.  If I didn't achieve something I wanted to, I am thankful for the opportunity to get to try or the skills and opportunities that allowed me to believe it was a possible pursuit.  Practicing this helps me to see more clearly that there is much to be thankful and grateful for and that it can very easy to take miss opportunities as slights in light of the fact that there are many things that go right.  

The morning gratitude centers me to not feel overwhelmed with the world and the challenges that any day presents.  It tempers the idea that life for me is wildly out of control or somehow stacked against me.  Stepping aside from such potential notions (and our society loves to make it seem like threats lie around every corner for my demographic), I can more warmly and meaningfully think about a world and contribute to constructing a world wherein my luxuries are more possible for everyone--not just people like me.  It is a small and simple action to help me understand my place in the larger world and what way I have and what others don't have.  

If you cannot tell by what I've written thus far, this is just a meditative reflection on what it has meant to sit down each day and acknowledge at least 3 things that I am grateful for.  I believe it is helping me to be more humble and aware of things that I may have overlooked or not as well understood. 

Previous month's gratitude reflections:


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Review: The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind

The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind by James Boyle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So everyone should read this book that is ever thinking of making anything in any form that they may or may not want credit for (either in accolades or payment). It's a great book for understanding the complexities of the public domain and the ways in which ensuring there is indeed a public commons of works after a reasonable time has passed from its creation (that is, current copyright is ridiculous) ensures a rich and vibrant culture. Additionally, it is a book that practices what it preaches and is indeed available in digital for free on its website.

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Review: Spoon River Anthology

Spoon River Anthology Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had heard about the book and it's overall impact on other literary authors and found the concept fascinating. So I picked up the book at my friend's house and started reading. Well, I ended up having to buy a copy and read it because I was so compelled. I love the idea and it's overall execution. The book is a collection of poems that are written by dead people in the town of Spoon River. Each poem highlights the dead person's life in concrete and abstract ways. Through these poetic sermons, we learn about how the town worked and didn't work. It's a lot of fun but I have to wonder if there is some site out there that provides a map of the characters and how they interconnect. That would be fascinating to look at.

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Article Summary #15: The Online STEM Classroom--Who Succeeds?

Citation: Wladis, C., Conway, K. M., & Hachey, A. C. (2015). The Online STEM Classroom--Who Succeeds? An Exploration of the Impact of Ethnicity, Gender, and Non-Traditional Student Characteristics in the Community College Context. Community College Review, 43(2), 142-164.
Word cloud of the article: The Online STEM Classroom--Who Succeeds

Summary: This study examined a data-set of 3600 students to understand how their performances in online and F2F STEM courses at Northeast Hispanic-serving community college to determine what factors (gender, ethnicity, and non-traditional student characteristics) correlate with the attrition gap.  They particularly targeted online and F2F courses taught by the same instructor to control for course and instructor variance.  The analysis suggested several points about online STEM courses:  men and older students do better than females and younger students, there was no significant correlation between ethnicity and success in online courses, and students exhibited different levels of success among the types of STEM courses (students fairing worse in math, computer science, and physical science than health and life sciences). When comparing performances in online vs F2F courses, they found: the success rate drops twice as much for women than men in the online environment, no difference in age-based success in F2F courses was present, but older students fair better, and though African-American and Hispanic students did significantly poorer in STEM courses in F2F courses, this gap was not widened in the online environment.  Other facets such as full or part time enrollment, financial aid beneficiaries, GPA or prior online experience did not predict performance differences in online and F2F courses.  The authors advocate for more research into understanding why and how students decide to take online courses and more effective advising and support for online students.  

Keywords: STEM, online courses, ethnicity, age differences, achievement gap, gender



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Short Story #380: The Colours Out of Space by H. P. Lovecraft

Title:  The Colours Out of Space

Author:  H. P. Lovecraft

Summary:

Book cover to H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Collection with Accompanying Facts from Red Skull Publishing
The narrator is a land surveyor checking out a section outside the city of Arkham that is set to covered in water when the new dam is constructed.  He notes that the area seems to be struck by a blight and that for years, populations have moved in and out of the area.  He discovers there is one person who has lived there for forty years and seeks out the man, though the man is described as odd.  The narrator interviews Ammi and explains that directly following the explanation he returned to work, quit his job and moved away and would recommend that no one ever drink the water from that dam.  He then retells Ammi's tale.  Ammi lived with his wife in the area at time when it was a thriving farmland.  However, one night, a meteorite struck down on the Gardner farm--the closest farm to Ammi, but still a reasonable distance away.  Ammi and many others went to visit the meteorite to learn about it.  The father of the Gardner house swore that it appeared to be shrinking but the professors from Arkham did not believe him.  They took a sample of the soft--almost viscous--meteorite but by the next day, the same had disappeared entirely.  They came back for more and continued to run tests but couldn't make any sense of it.  Day by day, the meteorite shrunk, but one noticeable element was the unearthly light that came from the rock.  After its disappearance, strange things begin to happen at the Gardner farm.  The vegetables grow huge but they taste horrible; milk from animals goes sour and the mother goes made.  The well becomes tainted but they continue to drink from it. Over the course of the next year, people avoid the Gardners, their crops continued to fail (except in areas distance from where the meteorite struck), and the family members continue to get sick.  Ammi regularly checks on them but is helpless to do anything.  Finally, after the mother and son die, the father is all but dead and the two other children have disappeared.  Ammi tells the police of what has transpired and a team of them, with Ammi go to the house.  Ammi is reluctant because he has increasingly seen the odd and eerie things on the farm and knows that it gets worse at night.  As the men search the premises, they find remnants of the father, the mother, and one of the children.  They finally look to the well where so much strangeness emanates from.  They go down into the well and manage to find the remnants of the two children along with other animals that ended up in there.  Twilight has arrived and an eerie glow begin appearing all around the men go into the house in part for protection as the glow gets brighter and the horses they brought begin acting out.  The men witness strange things including trees moving about with no wind and finally, something comes forward from the well.  The men escape from the back of the house and witness two masses of strange color rise up into the sky and disappear.  The men are shocked and afraid by what they have seen and find their way home.  Ammi is never quite right again and he believes that there is still a bit left of the meteorite still feeding off the land, growing the blight inch by inch until it will have enough strength to also return to space.  


Reflection

This is definitely a keeper.  The story within the story is a fun approach and in this case, it's an interesting mirror reflection.  That is, the horror happens to Ammi but the narrator's reaction (and supposedly truth in telling us the reader) adds its own level of legitimacy to it.  But also, Lovecraft provides some excellent and vivid details that linger with the reader long after the sentence is read.  This is perhaps my favorite example:  "It was a monstrous constellation of unnatural light, like a glutted swarm of corpse-fed fireflies dancing hellish sarabands over an accursed marsh, and its colour was that same nameless intrusion which Ammi had come to recognize and dread."  I don't know what this color is, but it is enough to make me feel uncomfortable to a serious degree.  It's a good read and definitely one of the go-tos that I would recommend with Lovecraft as an opener to his work.  

Rating:  4 (out of 5 stars)

Source:  I read this version  of a the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft from Red Skull Publishing (that's their book cover too).  However, you can find all of H. P. Lovecraft's work for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.


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Image of the Week #15: The Wonders of General Electric

The Wellesley News (06-03-1920)

What Is It

An advertisement from the Wellesley News, the student newspaper of Wellesley College, from the late 1910s. 


Why I Find It Interesting

Another ad from General Electric that seems to offer up a fantastic world of machines to the newly graduated student.  Though why the student is male when the newspaper is published at an all-women college leaves much to be questioned (such as was this an ad to direct women to direct their love interests where to go or work or purchase from?).  But it's curious how much General Electric emphasizes the world is as the feet of those who spend money on its many appliances.

This submission is part of the Image of the Week series.  For access to all photos, which are open for reuse under a Creative Commons License, check out the full album on Flickr.

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

My Most Recent Reads - March 2016

March proved to be another slow month of reading and I'm guessing it's something I have to get used to while being in the program--there will be no more months where I read some 40 books or so.  But it was an enjoyable month of reading and I found some great things to read/listen to this month.  I won't formally review them but I found myself listening to two great non-Western science-fiction novels that I strongly recommend for sci-fi peoples:   Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor & The Three-Body Problem (The Three-Body Problem, #1) by Cixin Liu.  Definitely check them out!  But there are a few other books I want to spend more time talking about today!
Word cloud of this book review blog post


Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories by Charles Beaumont

Beaumont is a fantastic teller of tales and many may already be familiar with him.  A good chunk of his short stories eventually ended up as episodes on The Twilight Zone.  This collection is filled with a great mixture of stories, many of which invoke the strange and quirkiness of the show.  It's a well-chosen collection with something for everyone and many stories carrying a level of timelessness that makes them perfect.  His focus is to entertain, not to be literary, yet an occasional tale achieves both.  In many ways, this collection feels reminiscent of a contemporary of his, Richard Matheson.  If you want a solid anthology to provoke your imagination, you can't go wrong with this one.  Also, if you have the chance, opt for the audiobook; it's a rock-solid production.

Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni

The most important statement I can say about this book is that every student should read this book in their freshmen or sophomore year of high school--yes, high school.  Bruni's exploration into 3-Card Monte structure that is higher education when it comes to seducing students should be understood by all students as it has many long-term implications for them.  Throughout the book, Bruni systematically breaks down the traditional mindset to aspire to elite colleges, noting how success in getting into them and success as a result of attending them is drastically overrated and over-played.  He highlights a range of approaches and strategies that students should use to determine what form of higher education is best for them.  


Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives by Howard Ross


I feel like this is a book I need to read at least once a year because as much as I agree, understand, and deeply appreciate its message, I also know it's horribly easy to ignore.  The message is that we--all of us--you, me, the author, and everyone--are innately biased in ways that are not clear to us.  Unfortunately, many of these biases are arbitrary and many of them may incline us to think and act in ways that are against our actual beliefs.  Ross traces the many different ways in which we are blind to our biases and the various ways we succumb to our biases.  He also illustrates ways of overcoming some of our biases some of the time but makes clear it's probably impossible (and probably for the best) to overcome all of our biases all of the time.  Rather, the goal is to reduce it in places and situations where it undermines our sense of fairness and equality.  Ross comes from this with a nonjudgmental tone and works hard to help the reader understand that the bias itself is not an indicator of guilt or blame, but rather something that exists beyond our rational minds.  


Monthly reads for 2016 (and you can always look at all of my books that I've read on GoodReads)


BOOKS

  • The Flies by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users by Guy Kawasaki

AUDIOBOOKS

  • Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives by Howard Ross
  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Three-Body Problem (The Three-Body Problem, #1) by Cixin Liu
  • Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni
  • Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories by Charles Beaumont

GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • Birthright, Vol. 2: Call to Adventure by Joshua Williamson
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader, Vol. 2: Shadows and Secrets by Kieron Gillen
  • Star Wars, Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler's Moon by Jason Aaron


What about you reader?  What book recommendations do you have for me?

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.