Carl, an English professor, Writer, Author and Scholar, writes about his experience over the years with our department, TLC. What better way to write a testimonial than through a medium he is most comfortable with, the “essay.” We hope you will enjoy reading the conversation as much as we did.
BB & the Contemporary Visualization of a Lesson
[What follows is an imaginary conversation between one and another one. It is intended to shine a light on the good work that the instructors and technicians do in ETS. Well, it starts that way and then becomes something else—a meditation on language & teaching with ghosts in the machinery of night (to mix metaphors)]
What is the best thing about working at UFV?
Working with the people in ETS.
What is ETS?
Educational Technology Services.
And what do you like about what they do?
They help. Since the University is becoming increasingly more bureaucratic and automated they lend a hand.
Wow! You! A tech-guy!
I am on the side of Adorno when he opines that “the power of the culture industry’s ideology is such that conformity has replaced consciousness.” Everything becomes a service industry—service courses—student services—student assessment services. I had to change my outlook to survive. I decided to see technology as an event, and an event can be interesting. I want to understand the root of the event. But we saw this coming—these modern times—and so now I want to understand our digital postmodern time—this time with no time. That is my big complaint with technology in the wake of Adorno. It takes time. It takes vision.
It takes time and vision to use the technology?
No. It takes time and our vision away. It erases vision and time.
So what is it that you like about this?
I don’t like it. Not one bit. But it’s not going to go away, and neither am I.
It’s a tool. You use tools. So you are learning to use a tool.
Some think language is a tool but it is not a tool.
How do you use this tool that is not a tool?
Since language is also image, I use technology as a type of language to help visualize critical ways of thinking. I struggle with it and I am not comfortable with it, which means I have to be careful. I use Blackboard as a form of documentary film-making. Everything from a class can be posted and I structure what I post because the archive as it grows constructs a critical narrative, a story. ETS gets that, and they help me tell stories.
When students open a posting they can reflect and review, compare and question. They still have to use their critical faculty. A question can be an event also. And one can reshuffle the order of the posts. The archive is thus a form of cut-up. The student benefits because they can create and construct their own (new) stories and narratives.
So the technology has a performance aspect to it.
Not the technology—that’s a dead thing as you can imagine. But the archive lives and breathes—you read it; it informs and illustrates.
This must all sound strange to those good people in ETS.
They are good at what they do—they are good teachers who teach and show. If you bring them an idea they will give you more ideas. They want to help you realize your vision.