Category Archives: College Fun

“Why I’m Asking You Not to Use Laptops” (though if you were in my class, I’d ask you to bring your laptop every day)

Also from a loyal reader (though I came across this one myself, too): from the Chronicle of Higher Education blog/site Lingua Franca, “Why I’m Asking You Not to Use Laptops,” by Anne Curzan, who is an English professor at the University of Michigan. In the nutshell, her reasoning for the no laptop rule includes the dangers of multitasking and not paying attention and being distracting to others because of your open laptop. And she even trots out a frankly dubious study about how it’s better to take handwritten notes.

These basic arguments against laptops come up often enough with faculty in the hallways and at department meetings and the like. I always find it interesting how many of my faculty colleagues who have these kinds of “no technology” rules in their teaching spend time in various meetings with half an eye on their smartphones or tablets or laptops.

In any event, I disagree with Curzan. For starters, I think the dangers of “multitasking” are grossly exaggerated. Don’t get me wrong– I’m not saying we should all be texting while zipping down the Interstate at 80 miles an hour or whatever. I’m just saying that most of us do a certain level of multitasking all the time. As I’m typing this post, I’m listening to music, something I almost always do while writing (though not usually while reading). We drive and drink coffee, which is probably a more dangerous habit than talking on the phone while driving. My wife and son habitually play silly games on various devices while we watch junk TV as a family. And yeah, I think you can be listening to and even paying attention to a lecture or a meeting while having your laptop open.

I also think what Curzan is also saying to her students (probably not consciously of course) is “pay attention to me because I’m the professor/boss/sage on the stage.” To which I guess I’d say “well, be more interesting.” Or, as is the case with the kinds of classes I teach, have students talk with each other, make stuff, and otherwise interact. Admittedly, that’s a lot easier to do in the kind of classes I teach (writing courses capped at 15-25 students) than it is to do in the big lecture hall classes Curzan is teaching. So until we get rid of these big lecture hall classes, I guess she has to rely on being more interesting.

And as for taking notes by hand: as someone who failed handwriting in the fourth grade and who rarely hand writes anything other than a list or doodles, let me assure you that I would not learn more if I took notes by hand. I’d take few notes. For me, any kind of serious writing means typing.

Granted, it’s pretty easy for students to get distracted by cell phones or laptops, especially when they’re sitting in a boring lecture hall class. And I don’t know if my students always use their devices that wisely– taking pictures of the board with their cell phone, for example. But it’s not as if students automatically paid attention before these devices were around. When I was in a boring class as a high school and then college student, I tended to read paperbacks or magazines.

Anyway, if you’re in my class, bring the laptop.

Susan Martin and EMU Athletics Folks Take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I have to say that I’m personally a bit of a cynic when it comes to this ALS ice bucket challenge thing. I don’t know why; I’m very happy that ALS research is getting the donations and I think that’s all fantastic. I guess I just don’t enjoy watching people dumping ice on themselves. I think Patrick Stewart perfected the challenge here.

Anyway, EMU President Susan Martin, various coaches, and some other EMU folks took the challenge in a big way the other day. Here’s a link to the mLive story about it. And if you want to donate to the ALS foundation (ice or no ice), check out their web site.

This is what I see whenever I receive a campus-wise email from Geoff Larcom

Endless Geoff Larcom

Via Mr. Larcom’s Facebook page. Could not resist.

“The 10 Craziest Playing Surfaces in Sports” makes EMU’s parking lot gray look kind of tame

Viat the Facebook this morning, I came across “The 10 Craziest Playing Surfaces in Sports” from a site called “Stack.” Here’s what they said about EMU:

What do you do when your program hasn’t won a conference title since 1987 and hasn’t had a winning season in nearly two decades? Give it a makeover, of course.

This summer, Eastern Michigan decided to install gray turf, to symbolize the program’s new dedication to toughness. The idea was born when head coach Chris Creighton told his team that they will compete against “anyone, anytime and anywhere . . . even on a parking lot.” Now Eastern Michigan will play on a field that actually looks like a parking lot.

The piece goes on to share some even stranger basketball courts and football fields and the St. Patrick’s day green-dyed ice of a Kalamazoo minor league hockey team. My personal favorite is the Central Arkansas football field which is “alternating sections of purple and silver turf and black end zones.”


“Movie Night at The Factory Set for August 25″

Here’s kind of an odd one, IMO: EMU is going to be hosting “Movie Night at the Factory” on August 25 in Rynearson Stadium “The Factory.” Here’s a quote:

Fans can vote between Frozen, Gravity, Monsters University and Rise of the Guardians to be the film shown on that Monday evening. Voting will be available on until mid-afternoon Thursday, Aug. 14.

Attendees will be asked for a $5 donation, which 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the American Heart Association.  All seating will be on the turf and fans are encouraged to bring blankets to sit on, while furniture of any type will be prohibited. Concessions will be available for purchase and the money raised through concession sales will be donated to the American Heart Association as well.

Okay, so for five bucks, I can go to the football stadium to watch a movie while sitting on the new “‘EMU Gray’ FieldTurf” (as the article calls it)– but don’t bring a lawn chair or something because that would mess up the turf, so I’m going to be watching a 2 hour movie sitting on the ground. Really?

And how does 100% of the proceeds get donated? How is the EMU athletics department paying for stuff like basic security and the film itself?

Okay, one more kickball post

From mLive, “Real Madrid defender Nacho suits up in Eastern Michigan equipment, team tries American football.” A quote:

Real Madrid defender José Ignacio Fernández Iglesias, known as Nacho, tweeted a photo of himself donning Eagles green and white Thursday evening after soccer practice at EMU.

His tweet read, “Eastern Michigan !!! Go.”

Here’s the picture:

Kinda cool.

“Eastern Michigan University hosting Real Madrid practice sessions Thursday and Friday”

First there was the World Cup, that event every four years where casual sports watching Americans like me have to feign interest in kickball soccer for like a month. Now there is some kind of European league tournament play happening in different places in the U.S., including at the Michigan Stadium “big house” on Saturday. Note to fellow casual sports fans: stay out of Ann Arbor on Saturday.

But before the big game, “EMU is hosting Real Madrid practice sessions.” Want to swing by to take a look at a big time soccer team? Well, the practices are “closed to the public,” though given where the field is and that it’s all in the wide-open on the other side of the football stadium, I don’t really know how closed they can make it.

We’re #126! We’re #126!

My father actually alerted me to this little piece in The USA Today: “Ranking every college football FBS for 2014.” This must be one of these things that they do in installments or something because as I’m looking at this on Sunday night, they’re only up to number 57, which is Ball State.  But no worries; coming in at number 126 out of 128 FBS teams– just ahead of UMass and Florida International– are the EMU Emus Eagles. To quote:

No. 126 Eastern Michigan: Chris Creighton steps into Ypsilanti and assumes one of the toughest coaching jobs in the country. The Eagles’ new coach will have a promising young quarterback to work with but not much else. It’s going to be another down season for EMU.

A long season at the factory….

A new EMU video….

I was looking for something on the EMU web site and I came across this new video. I think it’s pretty well-done, but we don’t have a real eagle around here on campus someplace, do we? I hope that was borrowed for this….

Watch your step traveling Ypsilanti Saturday morning or someone will throw colored corn starch at you

As mLive reminded me, the annual “Color Run” is coming to downtown Ypsilanti Saturday morning. Here’s a link to the Color Run Inc. page for the event in Ypsi.  The race/event starts at 8 am, snakes around Depot Town, along the river, and the east side of campus. Apparently there are 14,000 people registered for it, so unless you are planning on running yourself, tomorrow is probably not a good day to come to Ypsilanti.

If this is the kind of event that makes people feel like they are one with the universe and celebrating their YOLO spirit or whatever, that’s fine, I guess. I assume it’s good for local Ypsi businesses, especially those that serve breakfast and lunch, I’m guessing. But just to be clear: it’s as much of a charity as Chevrolet or Nike (which also donates money to food banks and the like) and that colored starch “mostly” comes out in the wash.