Can I stil call myself human? 

"... the World Wide Web is still in its infancy, but for those brave enough to take the leap, there is no turning back."  

Teaching methods 

"I have found that students can "teach" each other much more than I ever could" 


"... who claim that there is no such thing as community online, and that the relationships cannot be real"  

"... and pseudonyms are too easily used to abdicate responsibility."  

"it's almost like group therapy sometimes"  

"... so students have time to ponder and empathize with each other"  

"something has to happen to form a personal link" 

"the internet allows faceless communication..." 

"... their mind is diplayed rather than their Calvin Klein jeans."  

Listserve or MOO for *real* communication? 

"... they can always write a paper, but in this course they have the opportunity to develop some real rhetorical skills by participating in the online discussion."  

"A seamless education"  

Kairos Meet The Author Series

Monday February 9, 1998

Featuring author Lawrence J. Clark of: 

"Staying Human in the Digital Age: A Guided, Annotated Tour of One Person's Adventures Teaching and Writing in Cyberspace"

Hosted by Jennifer L. Bowie Kairos Response Editor 

 The following is the log of the Session.  


A large room with distant light walls and lots of hazy, but too bright, light. There are several large pillows on the floor, and in the front of the room there is a small platform stage with a group of comfortable chairs. Type 'up' to step up on the platform stage.  

Jennifer shows slide #1. 

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  Welcome to this session of KMTA  _K_airos _M_eet _T_he _A_uthors MOO Series!  

The Meet the Authors Series is a Lingua MOO forum in which the Authors of Kairos webtexts lead discussions about the issues raised in the texts  
as published. MOO Logs for these texts will be edited for publication  
and reaction in forthcoming issues of the journal.  

 Lawrence J. Clark Author of:  
          "Staying Human in the Digital Age: A Guided, Annotated Tour of OnePerson's  
Adventures Teaching and Writing in Cyberspace"  

Hosted by Jennifer Bowie  
If you have any questions on how to MOO contact Jennifer (type 'page Jennifer your question or concerns') or type 'help introduction'  

Thank you for joining us.  

                      * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  

Jennifer shows slide #2. 

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This discussion will be logged and archived.  

  ***Please state your name and your affiliation***.  
To continue this and other discussions of Kairos pieces, please consider joining our email discussion list, KMTA. To join you can send mail to <Majordomo@utdallas.edu> with the following command in the body of your email message:  

   subscribe kmta 

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Jennifer  is Jennifer Bowie of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institue 

mday is mday robot from outer space 

Jennifer shows slide #3. 

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Quote of the week:  

"Futurists predict that networked computer technology, with its abilities to store, retrieve, share, and make information promises a world profoundly different than the one we currently inhabit. In the future, they say, we will be flush with possibilities and faced with decisions."  

"... the ironies of life in the Digital Age--how can I interact more with a machine than I do with "real" people? Can I still call myself human?"  
"Offering literature courses via Internet listservs and WWW covers many "fronts" at once, thus giving students greater access to educational resources and more opportunities to share, in writing, what they have learned/synthesized/connected than ever before. Yes, there are some limitations, as we have seen, but the benefits undeniably outweigh the negatives. Teaching (or rather, providing opportunities for learning) via Internet e-mail and the World Wide Web is still in its infancy, but for those brave enough to take the leap, there is no turning back."  
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LawrenceC says, "who said that?" 

Douglas-E  is douglas eyman, _Kairos_ CoverWeb Editor <-- non goofy mode 

mday wonders what a human is. 

LawrenceC says, ":)" 

mday says, "Oh OK.  Wrong hat." 
mday is Michael Day, SD Tech 

bil is Bill Ruhsam, RPI Alumni 

Eric calls himself unhuman 
Eric is Eric Crump, NCTE 

Jennifer  is also the Response editor for _Kairos_ 
Jennifer shows slide #4. 

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Questions of the week:  

The teaching methods, explained on: http://english.ttu.edu/kairos/1.2/features/clark/howtech.htm, are different and include your initial intents: 

  • allow a forum for discussion which was as "free" as possible 
  • watch a discourse community form and develop 
  • allow that community to determine its own standards of "acceptable/unacceptable" "discourse behavior" 
  • encourage, but not require, the use of pseudonyms 
  • see if what students could learn from each other was comparable to what they could have learned from a traditional, lecture-style course 
Have any of our readers tried these or similar, methods?  

How does this work for the students and the teacher?  
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Douglas-E thanks mday and assures him that his choice of hats is purely his own and that he should in no way feel chastised or pressured to conform. Well, maybe just a little bit. 

LawrenceC says, "I have found that students can "teach" each other much more than I ever could" 

mday did not use pseudonyms.  I had a hard enough time encouraging people to be civil w/out 'em 

LawrenceC says, "only two or three students used pseudonyms that semester" 

LawrenceC says, "most of those were used to using pseudonyms on the BBS in previous courses I had taught" 

LawrenceC says, "they wanted to preserve (as well as protect) their identity" 

Jennifer says, "In my experience as a student both were used for online dicussion but, in most cases, the students knew who each other were" 

LawrenceC says, "My students only meet f2f once, in the beginning of the semester for an orientation, so unless they know each other outside of class, they are all "stangers"" 

Jennifer says, "I used a pseudonyms not becuase I wanted to preserve my identity but because that was my "online" name." 

mday says, "one semester some of mine never met.  They were too far apart." 

Jennifer says, "do you think being strangers helped them or hurt them?" 

LawrenceC says, "Michael, what do you think about the online relationships they form?" 

LawrenceC says, "are they *real*?" 

mday will quibble with many of my computers in society students, who claim that there is no such thing as community online, and that the relationships cannot be real 

Douglas-E says, " I've never used pseudonyms, principally because I feel that students should be responsible for their words (and in moo-space words=actions) and pseudonyms are too easily used to abdicate responsibility. Plus I think that Faigley made a huge mistake by advocating pseudonyms without setting up the context and the community *first* (rpt. in Fragments of Rationality)" 

mday believes in online relationships.  But it can be much harder to develop trust and responsibility unless you ALSO know each other IRL 

bil agrees with mday.  It's too easy to ditch an online persona if you don't like how it's going 

Jennifer smiles at bil 

LawrenceC says, "I find my students tend to share much more personal info when they are online" 

mday says, "And that's why I like MediaMOO best, since I know who everybody really is.  But for some purposes, such as role playing to see other points of view, I can see that anonymity works." 

LawrenceC says, "it's almost like group therapy sometimes" 

Jennifer says, "I did notice that in your page Lawrence. I wonder if this is because it was their only mood of communication with thier classmates" 

Douglas-E [to mday]: yeah--there are times when it works, but it has to be set up within a particular context which allows it to work. 

LawrenceC says, "of course I am talking more about listservs than MOO's, so students have time to ponder and empathize with each other" 

Jennifer [to LawrenceC]: perhpahs they need the connection of sharing to "trust" the faceless others more 

mday says, "something has to happen to form a personal link" 

LawrenceC says, "maybe, or perhaps becuase they are faceless it's easier to share--sort of like telling your life story to someone you meet at the airport and you know you'll never see again" 

Jennifer wrote an undergrad paper on this subject and agrees with Lawrence 

LawrenceC says, "I took a grad class once where the prof posted all of the students' pictures on a  web page--I didn't like that." 

Jennifer  also agrees w/ mday 

LawrenceC agrees with everybody--shalom . . . 

mday says, "pictures can be a problem.  They gotta be optional if at all" 

Jennifer says, "the internet allows faceless communication, it losses the advantage of beauty and the like son communication and instead based it more on how a person prestents themselves online...." 

Jennifer says, "grammer, spelling, word choice and clarity become who the person is not their "apperence"" 

LawrenceC says, "yes, their mind is diplayed rather than their Calvin Klein jeans." 

Jennifer is not a good speller and this affects her online "personas" 

mday says, "and the winner is, the most witty best typist" 

LawrenceC says, "har-har" 

Douglas-E says, "of course, the pictures could be pseudonymous as well..." 

Jennifer says, "In some cases witty, in other cases most convincing or whatever is the most applicable" 

Jennifer raises an eyebrow at Douglas-E's point "yes" 

LawrenceC says, "That's why I prefer the listserv over the MOO for the *real* discussion, because it gives everyone a fair shot to digest and form a response" 

Jennifer says, "I feel both listservs and MOO have advantages. Sometimes it nice to communicate real-time, but then also have the chance to sit back think and respond" 

LawrenceC says, "yes, I try to do some of each--the MOO is especially good for brainstorming" 

mday says, "But I could claim exactly the reverse, that you will find more spontaneity and more really crazy (but sometimes good) ideas on MOO conversations." 

LawrenceC says, "yes, Michael. that's right" 

mday wrote about that once 

LawrenceC says, "which article, Michael?" 

mday says, "Oh, there are two that I can think of..." 

Jennifer says, "Did the students have opinions on what they liked best?" 

mday says, "one with Trent Batson, that's

Jennifer says, "I enjoy the spontinuity of MOOs but also the ability to sit back and think of listservs" 

mday says, "and one with Becky Rickly and Eric Crump (waves to Eric!)  http://www.missouri.edu/~wleric/cnsc21/

Eric grins 

LawrenceC says, "Most of my students have such crazy schedules that the asunchronous mode is really my only option for required discussion--I use the MOO's as optional times for discussion" 

LawrenceC says, "yes, jennifer, my spelling could use some improvement, too!" 

Douglas-E says, "I, unlike some people (fred comes to mind), find it difficult to compose any kind of sustained thought on listserv, and because I have so much going on, if I don't respond quickly, the message tends to end up with all the other messages I meant to respond to but never did. on the moo, I can at least maintain the illusion of sustained discourse." 

LawrenceC says, "I still double-check every e-mail I send, especially to my students--I don't want to set a bad example." 

mday agrees, Fred is the best at that. 

LawrenceC says, "Good point, Douglas." 

Jennifer thinking of her Kairos email, nods to Douglas_E 

Jennifer says, "luckily there are now coming out w/ email programs that spell check, however i don't have one on the school system" 

LawrenceC says, "I have cut back on the number of guided discussions that my tech comm students have--it was just getting unweildy for them." 

LawrenceC says, "But in my American Lit course, I cut out the research paper rather than reduce the amont of discussion--they can always write a paper, but in this course they have the opportunity to develop some real rhetorical skills by participating in the online discussion." 

Jennifer says, "many of your students I read out in the article seemed to be "older" students. Does this type of class attract different students or what that a good sampling of your college's student body?" 

mday says, "Even PINE will spell check" 

mday would anticipate flack from colleagues if I got rid of paper asssignments. 

LawrenceC says, "Jennifer, my internet classes do attract a more "life-experienced" group of students--most have families and full-time jobs." 

Jennifer [to LawrenceC]: do you think this effects the class at all? 

LawrenceC says, "Michael--I had no choice--my academic V.P. suddenly decided that my lit class should have 35 rather than the usual 20 students." 

Eric offers mday a cruise missle to use as reply to the flak 

LawrenceC says, "jennifer, yes, these students add SO MUCH to the discussion--their life experience, knowledge gained from courses in other subject areas, etc. really add to the class." 

LawrenceC hopes it does not contain biological weapons. 

Douglas-E [to LawrenceC]: do you generally find the older students to be more responsible, or at least, more disciplined than younger students? 

Jennifer says, "my experience with the internet class I had was the "life-experienced" students had a totaly different outlook on things." 

LawrenceC says, "Douglas--yes, because they know the consequences of irresponsibility!  (Many of them are returning to school after dropping out for one reason or another ten or twnty years earilier)" 

LawrenceC says, "Although I have had severl home-schooled students who have done very well." 

Jennifer says, "In my class one of the older students called us "young idealists" and I think this made us realize how differently we look at thing from our rather limited world" 

Douglas-E wonders if it isn't difficult to attract those older, more disciplined students to online learning--not because of the necessary discipline, but because of the need for technical skills 

mday lags here too.  Oh dear 

Jennifer says, "good wondering there Douglas" 

LawrenceC says, "I guess we don't have that problem in NW Houston--Compag Computer headquarters is 6 miles down the road." 

Douglas-E says, "kind of ironic, in a way." 

mday says, "I think the same about older students.  Harder to please, but very committed" 

Jennifer says, "RPI has a very strong technical component and I think many of our students know the tech stuff before getting here, whatever the age, or they are forced to learn parts of it quickly" 

LawrenceC says, "that would definitely help." 

Jennifer [to Lawernce]: you said you had visitors on the listserv how did that work out? 

LawrenceC says, "Tomball College is a community college--and the area is wierd--we have the technically proficient Yuppy class which I mentioned, but we also have a lot of farm kids from surrounding areas." 

LawrenceC says, "Jennifer--the non-enrolled participants added an entire new dimension to the class--one of the chapters of disseration discusses this." 

Jennifer says, "what did the students think of the non-enrolled participants?" 

mday says, "That's very cool, Larry, involving the real world.  A seamless education" 

Jennifer says, "did you have a large number of non-enrolled participants?" 

LawrenceC says, "They got a lot out of it--for example, when we were discussing The Great Gatsby, we got going on capitalism and the American dream--an East German participant then gave the students a first-hand look at growing up under socialism--they learned that it's not necessarily from the devil." 

Jennifer says, "wow" 

LawrenceC says, "Jennifer, it vaires from semester to semester, but there are usually several at any given time (5-10 active)." 

Douglas-E echoes Jennifer 

mday says, "Larry, how do you get the other participants?  Where do they come from and how do they know/" 

Douglas-E [to LawrenceC]: how does the school feel about having these non-enrolled participants--do yo catch any flak for it (to borrow a metaphor from mday) 

mday would bet not.  Good publicity or what? 

LawrenceC says, "they usally find us on lists of listservs that are posted in various places on the internet." 

Jennifer says, "do the non-enrolled participants communicate w/ the class as much as the class does?" 

LawrenceC says, "I've tried to convince various administrators of the publicity benefits--no, I haven't gotten in trouble  (yet!)." 

Jennifer shows slide #10. 

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The hour had come and gone.  
Thank you for joining this session of  
KMTA  _K_airos _M_eet _T_he _A_uthors MOO Series!  

The recorder is about to be turned off.  

If you are interested in joining the KMTA mailing list to further discuss this  
or other issues, you can send mail  to <Majordomo@utdallas.edu> with the  
following command in the body of your  
email message:  

   subscribe kmta  

                      * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  

LawrenceC says, "jennifer, some participate a lot, and many just lurk." 
LawrenceC says, "Nice talking with y'all!" 
mday says, "would my class majordomo lists be listed in these indexes?" 
Jennifer says "That you all and goodnight"