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The requirements of the course, thus, needed to be multi-faceted and personally meaningful to the sophists. I would use the MOO as our primary dialectical tool. I would lead MOO sessions as

Teachers should work to placeshift ideas to the commonplaces rooted in the lives of students.

Socrates or Plato might have led their classes: through open-ended questions and directed prompting. The MOO is a particularly useful tool to teach this course at a distance with because it simulates an impromptu or planned dialectic that synchronizes oral and written constructions. Transcripts are available through the course syllabus. Also, I often provided a base knoweldge in the syllabus as notes through the schedule, as ideas through PowerPoint or email, or as streaming video meant to be read or viewed before our class session each week. But I'd need the sophists to lead class with me as the facilitator or primary scaffolder. The result was that students would:

  • Participate in class discussion and in blogs over readings and ongoing work. (20%)
  • Demonstrate the contemporary value of one core classical rhetoric concept in a 10-minute video presentation for the class. (20%)
  • Lead a short class discussion over one primary classical rhetoric reading. (10%)
  • Complete a 20-page term paper/project with instructor and peer support. Drafts and purpose negotiable as defined by the class. The project should apply a classical rhetoric concept learned for a contemporary purpose. Use source material. (40%)
  • Present and discuss an abstract and/or outline of the paper as the final. (10%)
When thinking about ways to empower students to make these assignments their own, I focused on a concept that I adopted from Sling Media. Specifically, the concept of "placeshifting," or what I often call "play-shifting," is one worth exploring here. It is particularly valuable in teaching at a distance and in teaching Classical Rhetoric, because it combines the ideas of a teacher teaching what he/she lives and breathes and feels as home with most (iRhetoric), with the classical sense of place as a shared space for stasis. My love for rhetoric and classical core concepts would be meaningless, in other words, if their locus of place didn't synchronously shift to the sophists' contextual identities and situations.

Sling Media describes its flagship product, the Slingbox, this way:

Transforming Windows-based laptops, desktops, PDAs, and smartphones into personal on-the-go digital TVs, the Slingbox allows individuals anywhere-anytime access to their own living room television experience with no additional monthly service fees. Sling Media Enabling consumers to watch their cable, satellite, or digital video recorder (DVR) programming from wherever they are, the Slingbox turns any Internet-connected laptop, desktop, PDA, or smartphone into a personal TV. The Slingbox redirects, or "placeshifts", a single live TV stream from a cable box, satellite receiver, or DVR to the viewer's PC or device located anywhere in the home. If the Slingbox is coupled with a broadband Internet connection, the viewer's live TV stream can be "placeshifted" via the Internet to a PC located anywhere in the world. (2006)
If andragogic praxis encourages teachers to set up environments where adult learners can be self-directed, can problem-solve, can set their own activites, and can pause to reflect on and draw from accumulated life experiences, the concept of placeshifting is a telling metaphor. In effect, we experience opportunities to reach stasis, to use enthymemes, and to present kairotic arguments every day. Just as a Slingbox enables one to view media from any location, shifting the place of engagement, so too should every good online course shift the center of location. We've known this for some time in composition studies, including more process and social construction and avoiding the banking concept of education. Location, though, in the classical rhetoric sense, can be described as commonly shared place-in-action. That is, the ideas of the course should not remain stagnant in our classrooms. They should placeshift to the commonplaces of students and their rhetorical situations. It is more along the lines of post-process than process. Post-process theory recognizes that creating as many discussion points as possible is helpful. My assignments, therefore, needed to simultaneously sling/push and shift/recieve the ancient concept of Place effectively.

The Slingbox™ Perhaps this push media metaphor is obvious, but good assignments allow students from different places with different needs and backgrounds to all plug in to the same unit, and then receive information back in individualized ways. Push technology is what RSS feeds and blogs use; the content is subscribed to, but is pushed to one's computer or mobile device so that at the moment one is ready to review the content, it is there. Push technology capitalizes on "just-in-time" user interest.

Joe Moxley and others have used the term "datagogy" to describe something similar. The idea is to gather as many points of information as possible from a system, as Aristotle would say, and catagorize the information. The information can then be tagged in various ways, and attributes for each data field can be queried. Administrators and teachers can look at information in cross-section(al) ways. Doing so can provide new ways to learn from and teach the system.

A course that takes advantage of new media tools will use a variety of technologies but will systematize the data in order to reflect over it holistically to placeshift the direction and stasis of the class in a meaningful way. While some of the technologies I had in mind to use were new to my students, others were not. But even the technologies new to students would quickly become more familiar and useful. As Steven Johnson (1997) said in Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create & Communicate: "Cutting-edge information-spaces will perplex their first occupants, but the most compelling designs will eventually grow more familiar, more intuitive. Users will learn over time to inhabit each new space, as though they were developing sea legs. After a few acclimations, the initial sense of disorientation will seem less intimidating, more like a challenge than an impediment" (p.228).


      the study of the teaching of adult learners

      the study of the use of data to administer and teach in holistic and systemic ways

      redirecting of a single live TV stream from a cable box, satellite receiver, or DVR to a viewer's PC or device located anywhere in the home, using a Slingbox

      the virtual location of proximal development and content application for learners in an online course

    post-process pedagogy
      the theory that writing is more of an activity than a body of knowledge. Writing is public; writing is interpretive; and writing is situated

      a device that enables consumers to watch their cable, satellite, or digital video programming through any Internet-connected device