Friday, August 29, 2014

Welcome to our new Fulbrighters and Xidian Exchange Professor

As we have in the past few years, this fall we welcome Fulbright instructors in both Spanish (Carlos Yebra Lopez) and German (Sebastian Loewen) as well as our third fourth Chinese instructor from our exhange partner, Xidian University (Zhou Zhenglyu).
 
 
Zhou is from Xi’an, China. He is an associate professor of English at Xidian University. He obtained a Master’s Degree in 2004 and remained in the university as a faculty member. He has published over 20 academic papers on language teaching & learning, particularly in the area of English writing. The four books he has authored or  co-authored are A Detailed Analysis of Common Errors in English Writing (2012), A Detailed Analysis of Common Mistakes in Academic Writing (2013), A Practical Course of Interpretation (2013), and A Practical English-Chinese Technical Dictionary (2013). Two more books, one about Chinese culture and the other being a writing course, are to come out this year. He is actively engaged in many research programs.

 
Sebastian was born in Trier, Germany (which is the oldest city of Germany, founded by the Romans at around 30 BC). He received a Bachelor’s as well as a Master's degree in English, Politics and Education at the Justus-Liebig Universitaet Giessen. Sebastian is excited to teach his mother tongue to MWSU students and hopes to share some of Germany's culture with as many students as possible. A fan of films, he is looking forward to the Modern Languages Foreign Film Series this semester. Besides movies, he likes sports, especially soccer. During his time in the US he hopes to see as many places as possible, attend an NBA as well as an NFL game, and eat a lot of local cuisine.

  

Born in Zaragoza (Spain), Carlos has devoted his career to the study of language. He first entered a BA (Hons.) in Philosophy (University of Zaragoza, Spain). As a result of this, he chose to specialize in the philosophy of language. He pursued a Master of Arts in Philosophy at University of London. During this period, he also obtained a Master’s in Education (University of Zaragoza) and an MA in Translation Studies (University of Portsmouth), as well as graduate diplomas in German, English and French. He has taught ELE (Spanish as a Foreign Language) in Belgium. In his free time, Carlos enjoys practicing sports (track and field, basketball and swimming), making jokes, reading and writing.
 
 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Our Man in China (1): Settling In


Ch…Ch…Changes

            Turn and face the strain.  And I have.  In fact, I believe I have embraced this adventure much
more than I thought I would, but then it’s only been about two weeks.  However, I don’t anticipate any change in my attitude, really.  I am one who immediately knows if I don’t like something (or someone, which doesn’t happen very often).  Anyway, here I am in Xi’an, residing in the middle of the old Xidian University campus.  Kay and Zeph know it well.  I cannot overstate how easy it has been, how smooth a transition, how quickly I have settled into a routine not unlike my routine in St. Joe.  Post-Jet Lag, I have been up by 6 a.m., out the door for my walk to the ‘bucks for a grande iced decaf Americano and croissant.  Back to the apartment, check email, work on syllabi, have some fruit for lunch—albeit dragonfruit, which has stark white flesh with small black seeds, or a peach (mildly, pleasantly sweet with firm white flesh—my fav so far).  Then out and about for the afternoon.

            Out and about has been…well, Yikes!  There are 8 million people in Xi’an (my hosts say 10 mil) and it seems like there are as many vehicles.  I check my phone’s weather app for the air quality reading and, on most days, it has been in the moderate-to-unhealthy range.  At this writing, the air quality is good, with one pic showing a main “ring” (road) around the city center, and haze in the distance.  It is shot from a pedestrian overpass that I often take to get to the super market (Ren Ren Le) and the aforementioned coffee shop.

Traffic at a calm moment
            There is a hierarchy regarding the traffic, though, so getting places can be tricky.  It seems to me that cars are top dog here, even out-ranking buses.  Cars have the right of way.  No mistaking.  Period.  Drivers often don’t look where they’re going and they certainly don’t give a flying…well, they don’t care if you’re coming at them or not.  They take the path, the lane, the turn and never look back.  I took Kay’s bicycle out for a short trip today (my second such outing) and I rode the brake nearly the whole time.  After cars, and with buses a close second, the scooters (all-electric, no gasoline powered) are next.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to stop for some scooter as it came from the side or from behind me.  Maybe I’m too courteous a driver, but, nahhh…these folks are very aggressive.  I’m amazed that there aren’t more accidents.  In fact, haven’t seen one yet.  After bike riders, pedestrians are at the bottom of the totem pole.  When I walk down sidewalks, on the street near the curb, at intersections, I find myself constantly looking over each shoulder.  It’s possible that a car or scooter or bicycle might come up from behind, honking, telling me to get out of the way.  It’s all very fast-paced, not unlike any big city, though.  New York comes to mind.
First Selfie in China with Tiantian

            In emails to a few of you, I have stated many times how nice everyone has been.  Tiantian, Jianhua, and Juan are terrific.  Tiantian took me to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda—Tong Dynasty; 7th to 10th centuries, A.D.—for a day, which was fascinating, gorgeous.  Tiantian translated some of the history of that dynasty, the players, poets, calligraphers, and explorers.  Jianhua has turned me onto some of the local restaurants along the back street of Xidian University.  I had lunch at Juan’s home with Simon and Leo (remember them?).  She’s a great cook and so far it has been my favorite meal—simply down home, family fare with veggies, rice, tofu, fruit—delicious.
            A new friend named Aks (yes, it sounds like the metathesis of “ask” that we often hear) took me for a ride on the back of his scooter.  We went to Metro, which is a combination of Costco/Sam’s Club/Target.  That ride went beyond Yikes.  It was more like, well… Those of you who know me can finish that sentence.  I was able to buy things like olive oil and Italian pasta, and there are many other “western” items that I’m sure I’ll get into.

            The fall semester doesn’t actually begin until September 1st.  My schedule is odd, but I do remember writing Yanping that I would teach what they want me to teach and when.  So, all day Monday from 8:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.  And then Fridays from 8:30 until about 12:30 (I think.  I’m still working on understanding the schedule of classes, times, length.) Three of the four classes are the same as what Kay taught—Oral English, Written English, and Newspaper Reading.  The fourth is Literature for graduate students.  That one should be fun.  Four courses, six class periods.  No problem.

            It has now been two weeks.  I can say that I’m fascinated by the people, the culture—what I have seen of it, so far—and how children appear to be the same everywhere.  They laugh, they play, and they seem to be in the moment at all times.  Now, if I can just remember to do that often while I’m here.



 

Welcome to New EML Faculty

Joining EML this fall are three new full-time teachers: Ms. Claudine Evans begins work as a full-time Instructor of French; Ms. Brooksie Kluge is a full-time Instructor of English; Dr. Marianne Kunkel is Assistant Professor of English and new adviser to Canvas and The Mochila Review.


Born of a Belgian father and a French mother, Claudine Evans is a native of northeastern France.She started her career teaching her primary language and culture to non-francophone professionals, notably in the paper industry.She received a Master’s degree in French as a Second Language from the Universit√© de Strasbourg (Alsace, France), and a Master’s in Education Science with an emphasis on Training and Development from the Universit√© de Rouen (Normandy, France). She has taught at MWSU for a number of years, as a part-time, half-time and temporary full-time instructor. Her interest in assessment led her to become a Certified Oral Proficiency Interview Tester in French with ACTFL, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. In her free time, Claudine enjoys spending time with her family, reading and cooking. She is always on the lookout for good cheeses, whether imported or local. Although she loves living in Missouri, she does miss the local bakeries and artisanal shops of France.

Brooksie Kluge is from Springfield, Missouri, the hometown of both Brad Pitt and cashew chicken--she likes them both.
She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English with an emphasis in American Literature from Missouri State University. Her favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut, she listens to way too much CCR, and her hero is Ellen DeGeneres. Some of her recent conference pieces include “The Wife of Job: Interpretations in Modern American Poetry” and “Brats Will Be Princes? Disney’s Approach to the Boy Market.” The latter was inspired by watching endless Disney movies with her three children: Chloe (8), Jake (6), and Calvin (1). Brooksie’s husband, Bradley, is her source of constant laughter and is a painter and freelance greeting card designer.  They are all excited to get to know St. Joseph and are currently taking restaurant recommendations.


Marianne Kunkel is from Auburn, Alabama. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from Auburn University, and MFA in poetry from the University of Florida, and a PhD in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She's the author of the chapbook The Laughing Game (Finishing Line Press), as well as poems that appear in Notre Dame Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Poet Lore, Columbia Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She's currently circulating a manuscript of poems about girlhood and is working on a new manuscript about the few female characters in The Book of Mormon. She's interned at two university presses and worked as the managing editor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's 87-year-old creative writing journal, Prairie Schooner. She's thrilled to be at Missouri Western, where she'll oversee The Mochila Review and Canvas, and she's lucky that her husband, Dave, agreed to yet another move for her career.
Welcome to our new colleagues!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

July Activities


Presentations/Workshops

Kaye Adkins participated in the Rocky Mountain Writers Retreat in Grand Lake, Colorado on July 25-28. The retreat brings together scholars of professional writing to develop and share their research. Adkins worked on her current project, a study of the publications of the World War II Office of Civilian Defense.

Dawn Terrick, Director of Developmental Writing and English Instructor, attended the 16th Annual National Summer Institute on Learning Communities at The Washington Center, a public service center of The Evergreen State College July 14-18.  The institute helps teams develop a proposal or create a two-year action plan for learning communities on their campus.  Terrick attended the institute with Chris Bond, Learning Communities Director, and other Western faculty and staff.  At the conclusion of the institute, the Missouri Western Learning Communities Team created a proposal, timeline and pilot project for a new living-learning, theme-based Learning Community model.

Exhibitions/Publications/Peer Review

Marianne Kunkel's poem "Naming Nephi's Wife" from her new manuscript-in-progress was accepted for publication in the Notre Dame Review. Also, her essay about the tradition of libations appeared on Prairie Schooner's website as part of FUSION, a poetry/art collaboration with Ghana.


Jeanie Crain completed the Systems Portfolio review for AQIP (Academic Quality Improvement Program) at Missouri Western.

Conference/Seminars/Committees

Ana Bausset-Page attended the Presentation in Honor of Simon Bolivar at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah on July 26th. A PhD student mentored by Bausset-Page read a paper on ¨La carta de Jamaica.¨

Appointments

Susie Hennessy was elected vice president of the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French.


Elizabeth Latosi-Sawin was appointed to the Board of the St. Joseph Public Library.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Recent MAA Grad Mark Henderson on Work as Instructional Technologist

What do I do?

July 21, 2014 at 1:17pm
Today marks the start of week eight of my new career as an Instructional Technologist. I’ve found that many of my friends and family have no idea what I do. I’ve also found that a number of my correspondence in the education and technical worlds want to know more about how the online school works at Columbia College. So, here we are.
 
First, a little overview. While Columbia College is based in…..Columbia, MO (shocker!), the school has more students around the country than they do locally. They have a number of satellite campuses across the country, many of them on military bases. They also have around 14,000 undergrad and graduate students taking online classes from coast to coast. With the high number of online students, Columbia College has decided to spin off their online campus to a separate entity. I actually don’t work on the Columbia College campus, but rather about 10 minutes away in lovely downtown Columbia.
 
My job is roughly a 50/50 mix of education and technical work. I will address the education side first, as I know some of my teacher friends are frightened by technology.
 
The Education Side:

I serve as the middle-man between course instructors and their students. Some instructors are local and we meet to develop courses, while others are around the country and we rely heavily on email. I present professional-development (although it’s not called that) to the instructors to help them create quality online courses. This includes presentations and online activities. I recently designed an interactive web training module on creating online discussions that spark critical thinking. All instructors will be required to complete the module at the start of the next session.
 
One of the requirements of online courses at Columbia College is that they contain multi-media to enhance learning. This doesn’t mean simply finding cute cat videos on YouTube and sharing them with students. This means spending a lot of time searching for quality videos, podcasts, infographics, etc. that align with the course’s goals. Occasionally, an instructor provides the materials, but usually I have to seek out GOOD multi-media and then persuade the instructor to use it.
 
Columbia College holds online instructors to high accountability. This means that we are often monitoring the 800ish courses to ensure instructors are keeping content fresh, communicating with students, and updating grades. On the other side of the building, there are online advisors who handle complaint emails and calls from students. Often times, they will run to me to answer questions or fix situations when an instructor is not readily available. This is a bit stressful because some instructors are control freaks (rightfully so) and can get upset if I have to make decisions without their prior consent. I’ve had a couple of heated moments, but for the most part instructors are happy that I’m here to help.
 
While I’m not teaching any online courses of my own yet, that will happen down the road. They didn’t want to overwhelm me with too much at once, but I am looking forward to teaching online. I will most likely teach some 100-level writing or 200-level literature courses. The good news is that this means more money. The bad news is this means more work!
 
The Technical Side:

I was a bit nervous about what I would be expected to do tech-wise with this job. I had prior experience with HTML/CSS and a number of Adobe programs, but I don’t consider myself an expert by any means. Fortunately, I was given account access to Lynda.com on my first day and told to have at it. Lynda is a video-heavy how-to site, with professional training on just about every program or application out there. I did a little refresher on CSS and SnagIt, but spent most of my time learning about Photoshop. I’ve always wanted to learn Photoshop, but never had the time or money to buy it for myself. It turns out that it’s not as overwhelming as I imagined. Thanks to my access to Adobe Creative Cloud, I can actually use Photoshop (and many other programs) at home as well.
 
We use Desire2Learn (or D2L as the cool kids call it) as our Learning Management System. It’s by far the best LMS I’ve seen. When I’m assigned a course to develop or redevelop, one of the first things I do is work on a visual design for the course. Each course has a unique banner, color scheme, and CSS layout. This gives each course a unique experience for the students. This is probably the most fun part of my job, as I get to be creative.
Once the syllabus for a course has been finalized, I create weekly HTML pages, where students find their assignments, readings, and multi-media. I also create discussion threads, quizzes and tests, and gradebook entries. D2L also has checklists that I have to create for each course. This is a place where students can literally check off what they’ve accomplished and assure they have everything completed. Since courses repeat each session, I have to manually go in and change all of the due dates on assignments, which gets old quickly.
 
Columbia College is in the process of building a very nice video production lab in the basement of my building. This means that we will soon be able to do many exciting things with multimedia to enhance the courses. Since I just happen to have worked at a TV station for six years, I know a thing or two about video production. Since it’s been a few years (okay, 8) since I worked in TV, I do have some refreshing to do. Fortunately, Lynda.com also has tutorials for the types of software that I will use for this.
 
One of the toughest parts of my job is dealing with accessibility. All materials presented in courses must be accessible for all students. That means documents must be coded correctly for screen readers and all multi-media must be transcribed. I’ve learned that creating subtitles and inserting them into videos is tougher than it looks. Columbia College was sued a few years back by a student with disabilities who had troubles accessing online materials, so they are very serious about all of this.
 
Reflecting on Grad School:

I’m sure a few people would be upset if I didn’t take time to mention how Missouri Western’s technical communication graduate program helped me get here. In spring 2012, I went to Dr. Adkins’ office not really knowing what tech com was, but thinking that I wanted to be a part of it. I was afraid of switching careers because I didn’t want to abandon all the work and experience I had accomplished in the education world. I was thrilled when she explained that my education background could actually help me get a job in the tech com field. When I started taking courses in the department, I quickly clung to instructional design. When it came time to choose a thesis topic, eLearning was an obvious direction.
One of the most important things I learned in graduate school was how to teach myself how to use programs and complete tasks without someone holding my hand through the process. While I have great co-workers at Columbia College, they we are all loaded with work of their own and don’t have time to answer endless questions or sit me down and teach me how to use a program. I didn’t come to this job as a master of any program, but I do possess the skills to learn and find the solutions I need.
 
I’m also grateful for the collaborative work that I did in graduate school. Even though I spend the majority of my day working by myself on the computer, this job requires a lot of team work. I’ve learned how to work as a leader and follower, how to communicate with clients, and how important clear communication is in getting the job done.
 
If someone had asked me what my dream job would be a few years back, I would have described what I’m doing now. I get to work in education, while doing challenging (and usually fun) technical work at the same time. While there were certainly parts of being a high school English teacher that I enjoyed, I never felt like it was really what I was supposed to do with my life. Just two months into being an instructional technologist, I know that I’ve found the field that I’m supposed to be in.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Department Activities in June

Presentations


Mike Cadden, professor of English, presented the paper “The Need for Distance in Children’s Literature” at the Children’s Literature Association Conference, Columbia, SC.

Publications
Michael Charlton, associate professor of English, published a chapter entitled "A Clash of Words: Challenging the Medieval Rhetorical Tradition of the Moral Speaker in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire" in the anthology George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and the Medieval Literary Tradition (University of Warsaw Press).

Miguel Rivera-Taupier, assistant professor of Spanish, published “Pessimism and Detection in Vargas Llosa’s Who Killed Palomino Molero?” in Critical Insights. Mario Vargas Llosa. Ed. Juan de Castro (Ipswich: Salem Press).
Student/Community Involvement/Successes

On June 2-3, twenty-two teachers and administrators from schools participating in the  i3 College Ready Writing Program (Braymer, Breckenridge, and Hamilton) came to MWSU for professional development work with twelve PLWP Teacher Consultants.  District groups assessed sample student writing and practised strategies for teaching argument writing, research, and essential questions.

PLWP held its annual Professional Writing Retreat on June 6-8 at Conception Abbey, where twelve area teacher-writers worked with PLWP Teachers Consultants Amanda Moyers (SJSD) and Tom Pankiewicz (MWSU) as well as with guest editor and former Oklahoma State University Writing Project Director Britton Guildersleeve. 

Conference/Seminars/Committees

Ten members of the PLWP College Ready Writing Program attended the National Writing Project’s i3 CRWP Summer Partnership Meeting in St. Louis on June 23-26 to plan professional development programs and teaching units for the 2014-2015 school year.  Members of the partnership team included PLWP Principal Investigator Jane Frick (MWSU, retired), Director Susan Martens (MWSU), and Teacher Consultants Janet Jelavich (Maryville, retired) and Amy Miller (SJSD) as well as CRWP district representatives Terrance Sanders (Braymer), Mitch Barnes (Braymer), Allison Ford (Hamilton), Traci Scheiber (Hamilton), Lauren Wingate (Breckenridge), and Linda Gaines (Breckenridge).

Susie Hennessy, professor of French, attended the ADE/ADFL Summer Seminar West in Seattle, a meeting for department chairs, sponsored by the Association of Departments of English and Foreign Languages.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

LeAnn Neal Reilly Wins Bronze Medal in Book Competition

LeAnn Neal Reilly, a 1990 graduate, has learned that her third novel, The Last Stratiote, is the bronze medal winner for the category of fantasy in Forward Reviews' 16th annual competition. Forward Reviews is a book review publication dedicated to discovering good independently published works.

 Congratulations, LeAnn!



Here is the press release:

Foreword Reviews Announces IndieFab Book of the Year Awards

July 1, 2014—Last Friday, Foreword Reviews announced the winners of its annual IndieFab Book of the Year Awards for the best indie books of 2013 at the annual American Library Association (ALA) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Representing hundreds of independent and university presses of all sizes, the winners were selected after months of editorial deliberation over more than 1,500 entries in 60 categories. This year’s list of winners includes Garrison Keillor, Barry Lopez, Harvard Business Review, Georgia Museum of Art, B&H Publishing, Rizzoli Publishing, SUNY Press, Loyola University Press, Chicago Review Press, Valentine D’Arcy Sheldon, and Wayne State University Press, among others. The winners exemplify the best work coming from today’s indie authors and publishers.
Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorable Mention awards, as well as Editor’s Choice Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction, were determined by a panel of librarians and booksellers. The Last Stratiote was honored with the Bronze award in the category of Fantasy.
A dark urban fantasy that re-imagines A Tale of Two Cities on the modern international stage, The Last Stratiote depicts the age-old struggle between revenge and love in the heart of one tortured woman. 

Author LeAnn Neal Reilly writes novels "about resilient women caught in magical, otherworldly circumstances" (Kirkus Reviews). She grew up in the Midwest, migrated east to Pittsburgh for graduate school, and then migrated even farther east to the Boston suburbs where she lives with her husband and three children.
Contact: LeAnn Neal Reilly, 3 Billings Way, Framingham, MA 01701zephonbooks@gmail.com / 508.877.5789 / www.nealreilly.com

About Foreword Reviews: The editors and staff at Foreword Reviews love indie books and the art of great storytelling. They discover, curate, critique, and share reviews and feature articles exclusively on indie-publishing trends. Foreword Reviews’ quarterly print magazine is distributed across the United States to librarians, booksellers, publishers, and avid readers and is available at most Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, indie bookstores, and by subscription.Foreword’s website features reviews of indie books written by a team of professional, objective writers.
You can also connect with Foreword on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Pinterest. 425 Boardman Avenue, Traverse City, MI 49684.
Contact: Jennifer Szunko, Director of Marketing/Circulation
Foreword Reviews jennifer@forewordreviews.com 231-933-3699