60-second lecture test

I got inspired by this article sent to me by a co-worker (thanks, Finn Arne!). It describes what it would like us to believe is a new trend: academic courses where lectures are one-minute webcasts accompanied by reading suggestions and assignments.

The microlectures, which last from 60 seconds to three minutes, do little more than introduce key terms and concepts. In an online class on academic reading, for example, students learning about word construction listen to an 80-second microlecture that introduces word parts and explains that they have a bearing on the meaning of words, said Michelle Meeks, a reading instructor. Students then use an online dictionary to look up a list of 25 prefixes, suffixes, and word roots, writing up their findings and discussing them on a message board.

While I doubt that this can replace ordinary course work, it has some interesting sides to it. At least it forces word-happy academics to try and distill their thoughts and concepts. It also bears some similarities to something we discussed in a meeting this week, about how everyone should be prepared to give an elevator pitch on their project and research of about 45 seconds.

So I decided to give it a try, if only to test out the video embedding on the blog. Here’s me talking about the concept of cyborgs. Why that? Well, because today I got asked to grade some papers from the course on IT and cultural change that my office neighbour Vivian is teaching[1]. The assignment is simple: describe the term cyborg as it is used in the syllabus. This is my 60-second take:

1. It’s in English to keep it in tune with the rest of this blog, not because the actual course is in English. Please excuse crappy pronounciation.
2. This is the first time I’ve ever recorded something like this (I downloaded the software today), so please also excuse bad audio, bad lighting, the reading-from-a-text-expression and all other faults that will look better should I ever choose to keep doing this. Next time I’ll try out the screen capture option, so you don’t have to look at me while I’m presenting.
3. I had to go via spike.com, since I haven’t figured out how to upload video to WordPress yet. So this marks the loss of my online video-posting virginity as well. A momentous moment, to be sure.

Ok, so what would I add to this video to make it worthy a lecture? Here are some assignments for y’all:

1. Read Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century (find a gruesome html version here). It’s well written and interesting throughout, although maybe a little too 90s for my taste (you know, playful, ironic, “post-modern”).

2. Read the Prologue to Marshall McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy. Think about the “extension of the sense organs”, and the concept of cyborg.

3. Read William Gibson’s Neuromancer, because it’s fun and gives insights. Discuss: techno-utopia or -dystopia? Where is the cyborg here?

There. That should keep you going for a little while. Maybe the department will get us to make more of these?

PS: Optional assignment (but worth a lot of extra credit!): Discuss the notion of cyborg in this Dinosaur Comics. If you haven’t read this comic before, you might not get it. Do some surfing in the archives to discover its greatness.

[1] This is the first I’ve ever graded something, so I might bring this up again later.


2 Responses

  1. An additional assignment: watch Battlestar galactica and discuss the human-cylon relationship in light of more academically oriented cyborg litterature.

    I’ll be grading a few of these as well, should be fun!

  2. […] poster and the research behind it, so if nothing else it should be a good chance to practice giving short talks. My session is tomorrow, already, So I’ll be spending the rest of the conference listening to […]

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