Language and Technology Blogs

The results of the poll for the Top Language Blogs (which I wrote about in more detail earlier) have been posted. The ones that interest me the most are the Top Ten Language Blogs for "Language Technology" which focuses on blogs discussing technology as part of the language learning process.

No, Serendipity35 did not make the list, but I checked out the top 10 and found a few familiar bloggers and a few new ones to add to my reader. Most of the blogs are not hardcore language blogs but EdTech blogs that discuss language learning at times.

The list reinforces my perception that there are just many more teachers in the K-12 world blogging, creating their own social networks etc. than there are in the higher education world.

The One-Credit Online Writing Course

I am reading that the University of Arizona is developing a one-credit online writing course that will be used to supplement three-credit GenEd (general education) classes.

It's one way to address a problem a problem that occurs on campuses where enrollment is growing and  the number of staff and the facilities to support them have not increased.

This is true of many writing centers, and they often have problems meeting the increased demand. For better and for worse, online versions are often seen as an economically feasible solution.

At PCCC, we use eTutoring, but we don't have anything like an online writing center. Since our center is only a year old, we are fortunate that our roll out is in phases and that we won't be expected to support the entire community (which would include college-level, basic skills and ESL populations) for three more years.

An online writing course could be viewed as a form of writing across the disciplines. At UA, the course will be introduced as a one-credit supplement to the typical three-credit general education class. It is intended to provide an interactive and self-paced online environment in which students' writing skills are diagnosed and improved.

According to an article on the UA course:

"...the courses will not replace gen-ed classes, but instead will support them with needed writing instruction that is not available in the typical 50 minute lecture period...The online course will offer tutorials on topics in writing not ordinarily covered by professors, such as grammar, drafting a thesis and style and craft.
Writing proficiency will be tested by a diagnostic system that will, depending on the student's score, direct him or her signed to target a given problem area. These modules will feature flash animation and other interactive software tailored to the specific skill level of the student.

Thomas Miller, English professor and associate provost of academic affairs, pointed out that the online course will help deal with problems in writing essays before it's too late. He said that students all too often realize they have significant problems in writing only after their papers are returned with a poor grade. Miller added that research on writing pedagogy shows that "students do not read teachers' comments on their papers. They often do not understand comments they read and do not apply them." The online course is intended to remedy this problem by developing students' writing skills before a paper is even assigned to them.The course will "take them through the writing process," Miller said. "It will help them draft a research question or thesis and will include strategic visits to the writing center."

It's an interesting idea. At PCCC, our approach is to try to incorporate these skills into the GenEd courses. We are designing 20 distinct courses across disciplines as writing-intensive and trying to better equip those faculty to support their students' writing, as well as sending students to our writing center for face-to-face help and sending them online to use eTutoring.

One reason that we chose this path is because we wanted to also include faculty in the learning process. A good part of our initiative effort goes to professional development. We are trying to help faculty improve their ability to create writing assignments, facilitate assessment and utilize technology to do it.

We will probably need to look at putting more online each year because we need to support two small satellite campuses, and our online students.

In Other (and new) Words

It will be a quiet summer for me with just a few staycations planned where I will just sip some acai juice (even if that makes me not a locavore) and try not worry about my carbon footprint or unpleasantries in the news like waterboarding.

So, I worked 5 of this year's new additions to the 2009 update of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary into that awkward opening sentence. A staycation ("a vacation spent at home or nearby") is one of about 100 additions that includes words I have heard used this past year like acai (Brazilian Protuguese for "a small dark purple fleshy berrylike fruit of a tall slender palm (Euterpe oleracea) of tropical Central and South America that is often used in beverages").

I wrote earlier here about the Global Language Monitor's Millionth Word March which announced that the millionth word to be added to English was lexeme. Consolation prizes for Web 2.0, slumdog, octomom and the rest of you for playing our game.

Some of the new words seem a bit old to me already - carbon footprint, earmark, waterboarding, cardioprotective, locavore, naproxen, fan fiction, flash mob, sock puppet, vlog, webisode, memory foam, and missalette must have finally met the time test so that they made it into the dictionary club.

I imagine there are plenty of neologisms (a new word for new words) that did not make the cut this year.

I'm not sure we need a word like "precycling" to describe that process of thinking about a purchase with a mind to how it will be later recycled, though I like the idea that people might be doing that more now than ever before. (Do we really need to add upcyle, e-cycling and e-scraps?)

It's getting as hard to keep up with all these words as it is to keep up with all the technology.

A Million English Words

According to the Global Language Monitor (GLM), at the current pace of a new English-language word being created about every 98 minutes, English will cross the Million Word Mark on June 10th, 2009 at 10:22 am (Stratford-on Avon Time).

I don't envy them doing the addition. There are always new words under consideration.

In Shakespeare's time, there were less than 100,000 words. Of course, Willie added about 1,700 with his own writing. And all that in an age when there were only about 2 million English speakers.

The Million Word milestone brings to notice the coming of age of English as the first, truly global Language, said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor.

He says that there are three major trends involving the English language today:
1) An explosion in word creation; English words are being added to the language at the rate of some 14.7 words a day;
2) a geographic explosion where some 1.53 billion people now speak English around the globe as a primary, auxiliary, or business language; and
3) English has become, in fact, the first truly global language.

That millionth word might be one from India, China, or England. There is a long list of possibilities on their site.

It might be chiconomics - the ability to maintain one's fashion sense or chicness amidst the current financial crisis. I really hope that, if only for Shakespeare's sake, that the millionth one is NOT recessionista or octomom or sexting or mobama.

How about the environmentally-conscious choices: Green washing (re-branding an old product as environmentally friendly) E-vampire (an appliance or machine on standby-mode, which continually uses electrical energy).

A few possibilities have been around long enough that I thought they already were "official" like: slow food (food other than the fast-food variety) and locavores (someone who eats locally produced foods) and defriend or defollow (dropping someone from your social network).

It is the "English Conquest."

You can find out all possibilities with their meanings and follow the English Language WordClock counting down to the one millionth word at