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Thursday, January 13 2011

Athiest Ethics Minors

Tonight's blog entry is sponsored by the following Facebook status. (Name removed because I did not ask the permission of the poster)

>Why is my Christian Ethics course required for an Ethics Minor?

(The poster went on to comment that that she mostly objected to the religious portion of the course)

There's two reasons why classes become required: a) Some authority figure says that a certain program should include a class on a certain topic (i.e. an accrediting agency, religious leader, the dean) b) The department decides that such a class should be included within a program.

Regarding (b), there are numerous reasons why the department would make a decision to require a certain class. Among them:

  • Attempting to get the maximum utilization out of an instructor. Consider this "Christian Ethics" class. If there's maybe 12 people who are required to take this class as a part of their degree program, perhaps a religious studies degree, and there's usually only three or four people who have an Ethics minor declared, then one instructor can knock kill the proverbial two birds with one proverbial stone. This is a typical situation at a small-er University like mine.
  • Competition between Department A and Department B. It is relatively common to see two departments with overlapping interests, Math and Physics for example, to offer competing classes. "Calculus for Physicists" would be an example here.

As far as the actual answer to the question, do some research. What agency accredits your department? When did the requirement come into effect? Who was on the faculty and who was chair at that time?

And, as a final comment, I urge college seekers to select a major before they enter the school, and closely look through the degree requirements at that time. University catalogs are universally boring reading, but I consider them the most valuable tool in selecting a University.

Tuesday, September 21 2010

Twitter XSS

The first in what is likely to be a series.

I woke up this morning to reports that Twitter had been hacked. The weird thing was that Twitter was still running, as usual. The #1 trending topic was "Twitter Hacked."

It didn't strike them to take down the vulnerable services?

Friday, July 16 2010

Using YouTube As A Semi-Serious Communication Method

Via the Washington Post "Campus Overload" blog:

YouTube has other purposes besides providing an open forum to submit your resignation or trying to figure out what Dan Rather just said on a Wednesday night in 1986.

You can find video of serious debates on topics from investigations at Ohio State University to the merits of Darwinism.

But there is a third class of video which can be found in the middle of these other two groups: The serious actor in a non-serious role. Just like Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia!, these messages can feel out of place but still do very well. (The Mamma Mia! film grossed $144 million)

Which brings me to my local example. Tom Kazee Searches for his Office

I give this one three stars. Its been posted three weeks, been posted a few times on Twitter and Facebook, been spammed to the entire University which he is touring, gotten a plug on the Washington Post blog (mentioned at the top of this post), and still only received 4100 views. I'm sure Evansville's social media consultant Dana Nelson would say that more could have been done with this particular video to help it get out. But at this point, its probably just in the "old" pile. The premise, writing, and performance are reasonable (if occasionally "out of place"), and the reaction I've seen from others around town is that the video is cute.

If cute was the goal, that's good. But webcasting is not the same as broadcasting or publishing. You really have to think about your audience. According to YouTube statistics, most of the viewers of the video were over the age of 50. And here I was thinking this was targeted at current and prospective students as a gesture of good faith that the school's president is interested in learning about the activities they participate in every day.

If my prediction is right, then the marketing didn't work out quite as planned. Of course I could be the one who perceived the purpose wrongly. But hey, I found it cute.