I seem to have come to the point where I no longer recall the exact word but I do recall exactly why only that exact word will do.

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Road to improvement

Published in 1903. Found near Haro and Bidwell, Vancouver.

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Continued enchantment

I’ve lived in Vancouver for almost 25 years and I’ve never, not for one moment, gotten over my luck. Recently, finally, I found an easy way to convey my continued enchantment to people:

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Communicators identifying threats

These are the “ideal changes” we should be looking for in American political journalism going forward, according to No Contest favourite Jay Rosen:

* Defense of democracy seen as basic to the job

* Symmetrical accounts of asymmetrical realities seen as malpractice

* Use of the game schema seen as low quality, downmarket, amateurish, silly

* Bad actors with a history of misinforming the public seen as unsuitable sources

And don’t forget “threat modeling teams.”

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Scholar Strike Canada

Here’s the schedule of events to be broadcast live and then video-archived. And here are some very illuminating resources. My university’s president and my dean both support the scholar strike, as do my teaching colleagues, of course.

Scholar Strike originated in the U.S from a tweet by Dr. Anthea Butler who, inspired by the striking WNBA and NBA players, put out a call for a similar labour action from academics. The Canadian action is aligned with the one in the U.S., in its call for racial justice, an end to anti-Black police violence and it adds a specific focus on anti-Indigenous, colonial violence.

I will be attending numerous sessions. My class-work will be limited to fielding student queries about their upcoming studies as well as about this action.

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Another form of school caution during the pandemic

This semester almost all of my university’s classes are online. Because of that, students can participate in Kwantlen courses – indeed, courses at any British Columbia university – from anywhere in the world. This distressing caution comes from The Tyee:

Some University of British Columbia students starting online studies next week will see a new kind of disclaimer on course outlines — this course could be illegal and even dangerous to access, depending on where you are. …

“Some UBC courses might cover topics that are censored or considered illegal by non-Canadian governments,” [wrote] Andrew Szeri, UBC’s vice-president academic. “This may include … human rights, representative government, defamation, obscenity, gender or sexuality, and historical or current geopolitical controversies.”

While UBC is “strongly committed to academic freedom” it has no sway over international governments, the warning says, and students should “exercise caution” when choosing courses this semester.

The letter also includes a warning for students. “Students should be mindful that when they partake in class discussions or communicate to the members of the class, that for some students living abroad, sensitive material might result in repercussions,” it cautions. …

“I think the university is trying to help students be alerted to the possibilities and make sure that they’re cautious if they’re in a place where some subjects may not be OK to study,” she said, “and that, that might actually mean they want to think about postponing a course.”

In the letter to faculty, the university said it is working to broaden the acceptable reasons for dropping a course without academic penalty to ensure students are not forced to choose between a course they need to graduate and their personal safety.

Good mental hygiene requires that we explore worst-case scenarios. I teach that in all of my classes.

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The School Year

The day after Labour Day is always a wonderful day. My students rescue the best in me.

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To slough and to slither

The xkcd webcomic is very entertaining. (h/t language log)

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Business Communications course ‘in a box’ – terrific resource

My colleagues at Kwantlen Polytechnic University have been really rising to the occasion during the pandemic, in all ways. I’m especially impressed, as an editor, by how prolific and intelligent their publishing ventures have been. Here’s another super-helpful one.

My Kwantlen colleague Arley Cruthers writes:

For those of you who teach business communications, my colleagues Melissa Ashman, John Grant, Petti Fong, Dr. Seanna Takacs and I collaborated to make an OOC (Open Online Course). Basically, it’s a ‘course in a box’ built using OER [Open Educational Resources] resources with a CC-BY license, so anyone can either use the whole thing (assignments, activities, mini-lectures, readings etc) or use/adapt/remix bits and pieces. We got a grant from BCCampus to do it, so we were able to do things like have a focus group with students and compensate them for their feedback.

From the book’s intro:

This course is designed for instructors who have the option of delivering the content either synchronously or asynchronously. … Students will explore and practice concepts such as their own writing beliefs, genres, audience analysis, storytelling, forming arguments, evaluating sources, persuasion, and verbal and written presentation skills. Learning and applying those skills are needed … in a world where new forms of engagement, relationship-building, critical thinking, internationalization, decolonization, anti-racism, and Indigenization form the foundation of today’s workplace.

I used Arley’s recently published Business Writing for Everyone in two first-year classes this summer. I hadn’t taught these classes in a few years. Her book made life a lot easier for me, and my students enjoyed reading it.

Here’s more on my university’s Open Learning initiatives.

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Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo NY; art by Robert Therrian

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