Welcome, and some initial thoughts…

This is my initial posting on my brand new blog for my brand new website.

Probably the best way to begin this is to try to explain why I developed this site. It’s not completely because I’m full of myself (although there are those of you who will debate that claim), but rather because after reading some articles about academics’ need to control their web presence, I felt it was something I should do. Those of you who know me, know I’m what we lovingly call, in academia, a freeway flyer. In addition to working on my Ph.D. in the World Cultures and History graduate program at UC Merced, I also teach at eight different college and university campuses in the Central San Joaquin Valley — Fresno City College, Fresno State, UC Merced, Merced College, and three campuses of Brandman (Visalia, Hanford, and NAS Lemoore). This means, in addition to putting on lots of miles on the Volvo, that I often teach the same (or similar) classes on multiple campuses (occasionally, during the same term). Although most campuses provide some sort of on-line functionality for interaction between students and faculty, these are generally tied to specific sections and semesters or quarters. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that it was time to build a website that I controlled that I could use to highlight my research AND tie together my teaching.

So, there are two basic functions of this site (let me know, as it unfolds, if I manage to fulfill either or both of them). The first, as I mentioned at the beginning, is to have a place where I can highlight my research, publications, and presentations. That’s the “me” part of this site. Although many of the papers to which I have provided links are available elsewhere, I have no control over their availability or accessibility. For example, an article published year ago in the 2nd volume of the Hindsight Graduate Journal is listed on their site as downloadable, however, the links for every article in that volume are broken. Anyone looking for that article could also find it on my UC Merced Academia.edu page, but once I finish my Ph.D. and move on from UC Merced, there’s no guarantee who long that site will continue to be available. This way, I’m able to insure access to those PDF files, here, regardless of whether or not sites associated with various institutions are maintained. Additionally, this site allows me to keep an on-line, up-to-date version of my CV, as well as current contact links. I can also post links to collaborator’s sites, making it easier for people interested in my research to connect with related material. All-in-all, this seems to be a good solution to several problems.

The second reason for this site is to consolidate some of the functionality that each campus provides via on-line systems like BlackBoard and UCMCROPS. Namely, providing access to my students with copies of syllabi, readings, and access to discussion boards. As I mentioned, above, one limitation of these systems (although, they would claim it’s a feature) is that they’re specific to an individual class section  There are times when I teach the same (or similar) class at more than one campus.Often, the admissions system and BlackBoard are not linked, so students who were not initially enrolled to the classes need to be added, manually, by me (which often doesn’t happen). So, in setting up this website, I made several assumptions. First, I believe that my students could benefit from communicating with others in the same class at the same or a different school. Secondly, I think it would also be beneficial for them to see what earlier classes have done. I  tried to set up such a system on Facebook, but too many students claimed they didn’t have Facebook accounts to make it work. Finally, i know it would be easier to put up copies of study guides, readings, or other resources in one spot — things that do not need to be uploaded each term. So, with those thoughts in mind, this site contains a bucket for every class I’ve ever taught. I will fill them up, over time, as the classes unfold with readings, study guides, and other resources, so that I know students can find them. In like manner, I have built a set of discussion boards, as part of this site, for students to interact. This means, using this current semester as an example, that my Fresno State students taking History 11 and the students in my History 17a class at Merced College (same class, different numbering scheme) would have been able to interact as the classes unfolded in a shared discussion board. Then, next Fall, when I’m teaching History 11 at both Fresno City College and Fresno State, those students can piggy-back onto the earlier discussion or start new threads. The ability to communicate across sections and build on past discussions seems to me to be a good thing. Hopefully, this will provide me an opportunity to see how these ideas play out.

Please, explore the site. Leave some feedback. Let me know what you think.

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