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Friday, May 29, 2015

Indian Epics Options Update

Here's an overview of how things are coming together really nicely!

KINDLES. I had a great conversation with our OER goddess Stacy Zemke this morning, and we are moving full-speed ahead with the Kindle books! Lots of questions still to investigate, but it looks like we will have SOMETHING ready for Fall so that students will have access to this wonderful set of books on Kindles in the Library, including audiobooks, with details to hash out later. I am so excited! If anybody is using institutionally-managed Kindles in their Library, I would love to hear about your experiences. We are pretty much making this up as we go along.

COMIC BOOKS. The big box of comic books arrived at the Library, and I am working away on those reading guides. I am EXTREMELY happy with how that is going. Here are the guides so far: Amar Chitra Katha. Here's the Library unboxing picture that Stacy sent me:


VIDEO. This is going to turn out to be trickier than I thought, so I am feeling less optimistic about this, but it's not essential — if this piece of the plan falls through, it falls through. And who knows: we might still manage to get access to Peter Brook's Mahabharata in a streaming arrangement, but Stacy is not really sure what our options are going to be. And I was just now wondering if maybe our Language Lab might come to our rescue here. Anyway, we have possibilities yet to investigate!

MUSIC. Even if I am not having good luck so far anyway with the video, I am having so much fun creating my YouTube music channel of Indian music. I've embedded it in the sidebars of the Indian Epics blog spaces, and I'm really excited about encouraging students to make their own YouTube channels and share them in their blogs too! Meanwhile, I am officially obsessed now with ghatam music!!!


BOOKS. For the books not available on Kindle, we need to get a Library copy on reserve. I see they already have Buck's Ramayana, so they just need to get a copy of Buck's Mahabharata, which the Library currently does not have, and we'll be good to go there!




PUBLIC DOMAIN EDITION EPICS. My public domain "anthology" editions of the epics are going great! I more-or-less finished the Public Domain Edition of the Ramayana, and I have the first round of the PDE Mahabharata done: images, text, but I will be swapping out the text with better options as I worked on the other public domain sources (see next item).

PUBLIC DOMAIN EBOOKS. And, of course, the public domain ebooks are going great, with students able to access those on any computer anywhere anytime. I am now working on the Reading Guides to go with those; I'm doing Romesh Dutt's verse Ramayana and Mahabharata first, and my goal is to have those books both done by the end of next week. Fingers crossed! Each of those two books is good for three weeks' worth of reading each; here's the Guide for the first week of Dutt's Mahabharata.



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

OU-HistoryChannel Inside Higher Ed article

There's an article about OU's History-Channel-branded online course in Inside Higher Ed today: Cable History by Colleen Flaherty. Here's how I happened to be quoted in the story:

October 2014: I wrote a long post about the OU-HistoryChannel course here at this blog, expressing my dismay about the course: Online Courses and Marketing Fluff: What is an immersive history course? Some people from OU contacted me to say they agreed with what I had said, but they also explained that they did not feel comfortable speaking out themselves. Not a good sign. I believe we need a wide-ranging discussion that brings in as many perspectives as possible as OU looks at its investments in online courses and online learning materials. The fact that people are afraid to speak out means we cannot have that discussion. I also had a great email back-and-forth with Mark Carnes of Reacting to the Past as a result, and that was really encouraging: I am always glad to spread the news about RTTP because it is one of the most exciting teaching innovations that I see on the horizon right now.

May 2015: Jennifer Ebbeler's blog post about her online Rome course at UT Austin, The Ruin of Rome, or Something Happened on the Way to the Forum, led to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, When Your Online Course Is Put Up for Adoption, which led to another blog post from Jennifer, Another Funny Thing Happened..... Meanwhile, Jonathan Rees, the most keen observer of the MOOC scene that I know of, wrote up these related posts: Cut the professor a check and walk away and “Would you mind telling me whose brain I did put in?” . So, Colleen Flaherty at Inside Higher Ed read Jonathan's blog, which led her to my blog, and she then contacted me to do a follow-up on the History-Channel-branded course. (I was curious about that, so I did indeed ask her if Jonathan's blog was the link in the chain, and it was.)

I had a long talk with Colleen on the phone, urging her to get in touch with Mark Morvant and John Stewart from our Center for Teaching Excellence and the related (I think) A&E/OU/History Institute, and also to contact Rob Reynolds who is a key person doing great work at NextThought, the developer of our (very expensive) MOOC platform, Janux. Rob is new this year at NextThought, and he is someone who really is trying to take NextThought in some exciting directions; if he succeeds, they would be able to lay claim to some real educational innovation. I was also hoping that Colleen would be able to persuade more faculty in the History department to offer their perspectives. As it turns out, it looks like she found one History faculty member who would speak on the record (Ben Keppel, one of OU's best, IMO), along with one faculty member who agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity.

And that is what concerns me most here. I am sure many people at OU would have urged me not to have posted my thoughts in a blog post to begin with. In fact, they would probably urge me not to blog or use Google+ or Twitter or do anything public or even semi-public that could be taken as a criticism of the university. Obviously, I feel differently: I believe that we need as many voices as possible to participate in conversations about the university — students, faculty (both tenure-track and adjuncts like myself), staff, everybody. The future of higher education is really up for grabs right now, with no obvious right or wrong answers; every option has its advantages and disadvantages, and as we weigh all those options, well, the more knowledge and experience we can bring to bear, the better, in my opinion. Plus, OU is a public university, and I believe that the use of blogs and other public spaces is an important part of how we make ourselves accountable to the people of Oklahoma. As our school motto says: Civi et Rei Publicae.

Will we have a public discussion of the History Channel course and our other online course and online content development initiatives? I hope so! Meanwhile, I've commented at the Cable History article at IHE. I hope others will add their thoughts also.
Update: Sadly, no one else from OU commented at the story, so I guess there will be no public discussion. People surely have lots of question, ideas, opinions, fears, hopes, about this partnership and related projects, but they will not be coming together in a public dialogue. I see that as a lost opportunity; I hope there will be some other opportunity again sometime somewhere.
Update updated: Well, maybe there is hope! Audrey Watters included a note about this in her weekly round-up at Hack Education (thank you, Audrey!). Maybe some kind of conversation will take place at IHE after all. :-)

~ ~ ~

... Ouch, this is kind of depressing, but I guess not surprising. I was going to include an image of the university's beautiful seal which shows the University of Oklahoma emblem of the "sower" and that wonderful motto, but when I went to grab a good, clean copy of the image, I found out that the image is trademarked, and I probably am not allowed to use it here in this blog as my blog is far from being an "official University document." So I'll find a nice picture of the sower that is CC-licensed at Flickr instead. :-)


Photo by Majdan at Flickr; cropped.
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Seven Mantras for Rhizomatic Learning

To contribute to the Practical Guide for Rhizomatic Learning (such a great idea from Dave!), I thought I would write up a few notes about the results of my learning subjective for #Rhizo15, which was to jumpstart my totally revamped approach to content in my Indian Epics class, a project that will occupy my whole summer. This course redesign was something I had been planning for months, so the timing of #Rhizo15 was perfect, and so were the topics that Dave brought up week after week, especially the content week. Instead of getting lost in the details, I'll try to sum up my experience in general terms. :-)

1. LET THINGS GROW. During Rhizo15, I got to watch my Indian Epics space split into three different spaces, and it was a very "natural" process, a growth spurt as it were, but it took a while: I was patient, and I waited until I could see which direction things were going before I made the new spaces. Things that are growing need room to grow in, and now I have three nice big spaces, ready for what will grow there this year: IE Images, IE Guides, and IE Comics.

Little by little grow the bananas.

2. PRUNE AS NEEDED. To make room for good new growth, you need to prune away the old growth, the wilted flowers, the scraggly-looking branches. For example, during the spring I let my book list grow and grow and grow to well over 100 books, but over the past few weeks, I pruned it back, with this result, about 50 public domain books for my students to browse: IE Guides. And now I can let it start growing again, and then prune it back again next year.... and so on ad infinitum and ad libitum.

Weeds spring up where we do not sow them.

.... BUT DON'T FEAR THE WEEDS. So, yes, prune as needed, but don't worry about weeding and pruning until you really need to do that. Let everything grow for a while, and then you can decide later what to keep and what to compost!

A good garden may have some weeds.

3. LET THE SUN SHINE IN. Get rid of the so-called walled garden of the LMS... which is really just a dark dumpster, not a garden at all. Let the sunshine in! Everything needs sunshine to grow. Go open-by-default and put everything you can on the open Internet.


4. LINK EVERYTHING. If something is not linked, how will you ever get there? I believe in linking all the content, linking all the people, linking everything. A big part of my content development process is adding links and links and more links so that students will be able to go wherever their curiosity leads them. So, for example, here is a page from my Public Domain Ramayana, and here is a comic book Reading Guide: I don't like to lecture, but I sure do like to link! For a visual metaphor, here is a map of the Seoul Subway:


5. BLOG EVERYTHING. Just as with the Connected Courses experience last fall, the Rhizo15 experience confirmed for me what a powerful tool blogs can be for connecting people! My favorite thing about Rhizo15 was reading blog posts and finding new people to connect with that way, connections I hope will continue after Rhizo15 is "over" (scare quotes intended). So, I feel connected to other people in #Rhizo15 through their blogs (thank you, Inoreader!), and that blog-connectivity is also what powers my Indian Epics class as well. Here's a screenshot from the Inoreader bundle for Rhizo15 this morning:


6. BRING THINGS TO THE SURFACE. I am a big fan of using randomizers to bring things to the surface, helping people find things serendipitously that they might not have found before. This is especially important when there is a superabundance of stuff to experience and enjoy, so much so that consciously choosing which way to go is hard! In the sidebar of those three IE spaces — IE ImagesIE Guides, and IE Comics — you will see randomizers that feature random student Storybooks from the past along with random images, and I will be able to add a comic book randomizer at the end of the summer! Whoo-hoo! Meanwhile, here's the Storybook randomizer: let the students from past classes help you with your learning now!





And last but not least . . .

7. DANCE TO THE MUSIC. I've got my YouTube Indian music channel embedded in the sidebar of the Indian Epics spaces because music is fun and music is beautiful. You can never have too much music! :-)



HAVE
FUN 

LEARNING,
EVERYBODY!

:-)


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Indian Epics: books books and more books

So, I really had not planned on getting this amazing grant from Univ. of Oklahoma Libraries to support OER development for my Indian Epics class, and I am still just trying to figure out the best strategies to use! And what a great dilemma that is to have!!! I've got a core of public domain content since that was all I expected to have... but now I've got a chance to go beyond that public domain content to do even more. In this blog post I'll try to summarize where I'm at with that right now and where I'm headed. Plus, since rethinking the content for that class (creating something like the "UnTextbook" in my Myth-Folklore class) is my "subjective" for #Rhizo15, I'm sharing this post with the rhizo world.

COMIC BOOKS

The obvious first choice was the complete set of Amar Chitra Katha comic books, and that is moving full speed ahead. I had already bought a complete set of those comic books for myself in April, and it was that event which actually set in motion the process of getting the grant. I had craved those comic books for years and years, and when the price plunged ($399 for all 300+ comic books, and free shipping from Mumbai... usual price was over $1000), I grabbed a set just for myself. Then, the wonderful Stacy Zemke, OER goddess in our Library, suggested that we could maybe get the Library to buy a set... and that evolved into me applying for the OER grant. My comic books (not shown: the hardback-bound Mahabharata and Bhagavatam which are on a separate shelf).


Meanwhile, the Library's set of comic books will reach Norman this week (it left Mumbai on May 13), and I am happily creating reading guides for the comic books, both to help my students choose the ones they want to read (I am so curious which ones will be most popular!) and also to create OER materials (CC-licensed, etc.). The comic books are not OER, but the reading guides I am writing definitely are! I've been sharing them with the ACK Twitter account and I am hoping to make some real contacts at ACK as this project evolves.

PETER BROOK'S MAHABHARATA?

So, that's $400 for the comic books in the Library, and that leaves $2100 in the grant... which sounds to me like so much money!!! I'd like to get a copy of the 5-hour Mahabharata by Peter Brook for students to watch; let's say that will be around $100 (yes, it's crazy: the 5-hour DVD version is really hard to find and really expensive if/when you did find it). The Library is investigating whether we can get streaming privileges for either the 3-hour or 5-hour version... and I'd be willing to pony up $500 for that (although I am guessing Parabola Media will demand more than that, in which case I am not interested).


KINDLES!

After Peter Brook's film, then there is $2000 or maybe $1600 still left. What to do with that...? What I am thinking is that I would like to buy and equip 4 Kindles for Library reserve checkout, loading them up with Kindle books so that the students' Kindle Library would match up with my extensive Kindle collection of India-related books, and that way they could then choose what they might want to read. Since I try to design reading selections that take 1-2 hours to read and write up, then the Library Reserve option could work perfectly for this, and I am guessing 4 Kindles would be plenty for a class that usually has 30 students and even 40-45 students (since I'd like to start shifting enrollment so that I get equal numbers in India and Myth-Folklore).

I'm just speculating in the dark now since I really don't know how Kindles work in our Library, although I will not be the first person to have done something like this (for example, I found this Kindle-textbook initiative at the Library website).

But just to get the discussion going, I'm guessing the Library would ask me to buy the Kindles; let's say those run $120. So, 4 of those Kindles is appx. $500. That leaves me $1100 or $1500 to spend on books! Right now my wish list would look something like what you see below: about $250 total.

SO THAT WOULD WORK: I could load up separate copies on four Kindles of all the books here! I also need to check and see if maybe we have some of these books in hard copy in the Library already. So, there could be hard copies on reserve also.



THE KINDLE/AUDIBLE WISH LIST

appx. $20 - Audible only:
William Buck. Ramayana. ($15)
Devdutt Pattanaik. Seven Secrets of Shiva. ($4)

appx. $80 - Kindle + Audible 
(I see there are big discounts for Whispersync combos!)
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Palace of Illusions. ($12 + $5 audio)
John Jackson. Brahma Dreaming. ($6 + $3 audio)
Devdutt Pattanaik. Jaya: Mahabharata. ($10 + $6 audio)
Indra Parthasarathy. Krishna Krishna. ($3 + $5 audio)
Bulbul Sharma. Ramayana. ($8 + $17 audio)

appx. $150 - Kindle:
Ashok Banker. Ramayana. ($10)
Krishna Dharma. Mahabharata. ($8)
Krishna Dharma. Ramayana. ($8)
Maggi Lidchi Grassi. The Great Golden Sacrifice. ($25)
Anil Menon. Breaking the Bow. ($4)
Ramesh Menon. Mahabharata. ($7)
Ramesh Menon. Ramayana. ($10)
Ramesh Menon. Blue God. ($4)
R. K. Narayan. Mahabharata. ($10)
R. K. Narayan. Ramayana. ($11)
Patrick Olivelle. Panchatantra. ($6)
Devdutt Pattanaik. Pashu. ($5)
Devdutt Pattanaik. Book of Ram. ($10)
Carole Satyamurti. Mahabharata. ($20)
Ashwin Sanghi. Krishna Key / Rozabal Line ($9)



STUDENT CHOICES

Looking at that list, WOW, I am so excited: I would love (love love LOVE) for students to be choosing things to read from those books, with me writing up reading guides to help them find what they are looking for... and of course that is on top of the COMIC BOOKS... and it is also on top of the PUBLIC DOMAIN materials I already found (see my Ramayana: Public Domain Edition for a taste of that).

I have lots of questions about just how this works practically speaking with the Kindles, and one of my most important questions is whether the Kindles can be linked to a Twitter account so that students can TWEET THEIR HIGHLIGHTS. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, I'm hoping that I can start coordinating with Stacy and all the great people in the Library to see how this will work. One of the things I like about this Kindle strategy is that, for the most part, these books are not really expensive, so if someone decides they really like a book, buying a Kindle copy for themselves is not a big deal, esp. since there are no textbooks at all required for the course. And a Kindle book you can read on basically ANY mobile device OR on a desktop. I use the Kindle desktop cloud reader a lot!


So, a gorgeous book like Divakaruni's Palace of Illusions is one that would work for four weeks' worth of reading in the class... and if a student didn't want the hassle of going to the Library Reserve room, well, it's just $12 for the Kindle book, or they could get a used paperback for just $5, and that would take them through four weeks of the class. But they can also just read it on reserve in the Library, no problem. (Almost all of my students live in Norman or nearby.)

WHERE'S THE OER?

So where's the OER in all of this? The idea is that I will be writing up the Reading Guides to go with all these materials, helping the students to find the materials that interest them. And seriously, just getting right books in the hands of the right students is a huge challenge, but a fun one. This is all new to most of the students, so I can't just say "choose" without helping them to see what's there!

The Guides also will build up a body of open reference material for the class (and for anybody!) to supplement the abundant materials at Wikipedia. For a sense of how that works, see the Guides to the comic books that I have written so far: Amar Chitra Katha Comic Book Guides.  Some of them are incredibly rich sources for stories that are not easily found elsewhere, like Ancestors of Rama: A Noble Inheritance (a retelling of portions of Kalidasa's Raghuvamsha), or Vishvamitra: The King Who Became an Ascetic, just to take two examples.


I'm publishing the ACK Comic Book Guides there at a blog, and I'll have the Book Reading Guides at a separate blog (my old guides for Buck and Narayan are there already), and the posts at both of those blogs are CC-licensed, which is one of the terms (a good one!) of the Library's OER grant.

Okay, I am clearly getting too excited now. I need to go make dinner, calm down...... and then get all excited again this evening when I do some more work on the guides! Whoo-hoo!!!!!!







Saturday, May 16, 2015

American Airlines: a tale of dysfunctional digital tools

I was surprised when, earlier today, AA.com evinced an interest on Twitter in hearing my tale of woe. It's surprising because the customer service agents I spoke with for TWO HOURS on Thursday evening had apparently no such interest. So, below are the details.

AA.com, I do indeed hope you are listening.

February trip: ticket 0180. In February, I had to go to Austin TX for a medical emergency (my mother was dying). Because it was at a moment's notice, I had to buy a very expensive ticket: a round-trip RDU-Austin Austin-RDU ticket ended up costing me $1203.20 (ticket number xxxxxxxxx0180).

February: ice storm. I was supposed to use the Austin-RDU portion of ticket number xxxxxxxxx0180 on February 28. But a series of ice storms had hit Dallas, and I realized on February 27 that my flight was sure to be canceled, so I called American Airlines to rebook, but I could not get through. It was not the usual "please leave your phone number and we will call in you in four hours" delay; the customer service system had collapsed completely, and it was impossible even to get a callback. Online, the system told me I could not rebook my flight; I had to call an agent. And yes, my flight was canceled (I think that finally happened around midnight), but no, I was not automatically rebooked. Of course, I was not alone in this mess: probably a hundred thousand American Airlines customers or more must have been affected.

February trip: ticket 4111. So, I kept calling hour after hour after hour, hoping to get through. But I never got through. I watched all available seats on outbound flights disappearing one by one from the online reservations system. Finally, in desperation, I bought another ticket at 4:30AM (now February 28). Yep, I could buy a new ticket online, but I could not rebook my existing ticket. And of course this was also a very expensive ticket because I was buying it at the last minute, on the day of the flight itself. Austin-RDU RDU-Austin. Cost: $950.20 (ticket number xxxxxxxxx4111). I planned to use the unused half of that ticket and the canceled leg of my first ticket to make a return trip to Austin in May. That meant I was basically paying double what I would normally pay for a round-trip to Austin, but in the context of my family's tragedy at that moment, I didn't have any emotion left to care about the cost.

Tickets rebooked for May trip. So, on March 3, American Airlines finally responded to my many messages to customer service and rebooked my flight. They took the unused portion of ticket number xxxxxxxxx0180 (Austin-RDU), which they had canceled, plus the unused portion of ticket number xxxxxxxxx4111 (RDU-Austin), which I had bought with this plan in mind, in order to create a new round-trip. I even got aisle seats. And a complimentary beverage coupon. And first bag checked free!  M-hoo. They also sent me a $3 refund. That is what they claimed was the difference between the cost of my canceled Austin-RDU flight (which they had canceled, not me) and my rebooked Austin-RDU flight. Given that I was booking this leg of the flight over two months in advance, there is no way it should have been that expensive. I guess they were charging me based on a one-way ticket price Austin-RDU — but, like I said, I wasn't going to argue about the money I had lost as a result of the total tragedy that was my life in February.

May trip screw-up. And now: the unforgivable AA.com screw-up. I flew on my rebooked ticket from RDU to Austin on May 11. No problem. Then, on Thursday, May 14, I got my usual "your flight is ready for check-in" email for the Austin-RDU return flight. I logged on, confirmed my seats, agreed to the hazardous materials policy, everything just like normal, click click click through all the screens, but then... the boarding passes were "not available." An error message on the screen informed me that I should speak to an agent at the airport when I arrived for check-in.

Phone call from hell. Luckily, I know American Airlines better than that: I dared not wait and do this at the airport. I called. And I spent TWO HOURS on the phone with customer service agents. They claimed that while I had a reservation for the RDU-Austin flight, I had not paid for the ticket. I explained what had happened. I even supplied them with the ticket numbers (thank goodness for my email archive, where I did find the ticket numbers; I had no idea they recycled record locator numbers and those were not enough!). But none of the agents had any interest in understanding what had happened and how I had paid American Airlines $2150 for two round-trip tickets between RDU and Austin. Instead, they insisted I owed them another $500 for my "new" Austin-RDU one-way ticket, i.e. the new one-way ticket that they said would cost me $1100 because it was a new ticket I was booking the day before the flight, minus a $600 credit from the unused portion of ticket number xxxxxxxxx0180.

AA recordkeeping failure. Despite the fact that I was staring at a ticket confirmation email in which my flight was listed as "ticketed," the AA customer service agents denied that I had a ticket for the flight. I asked them why I received a "ready for check-in" email showing "ticketed" status if I did not have a ticket. I asked them how I had successfully flown from RDU to Austin if I did not have a ticket. I asked them why in the hell they could not find a customer service record of my rebooking on March 3 (the exact date on which I rebooked), to which they replied: "We do not have records like that; only 'corporate' has those records." I offered to email them all the records that documented the entire transaction from start to finish, both tickets, all the credit card transactions, all the record locator numbers, all the ticket numbers, everything, but they had no interest. Instead, they said, I owed them $500.

Conclusion. In the end, after I literally yelled at the worst of the agents (I'm tempted to put her name here, but I won't), she gave me a "complimentary" fare reduction.

Complimentary.

That would mean, uh, no cost. Well, tell me, American Airlines, what is the cost of your taking away from me the two hours I would have spent that evening with my father? What is the cost of having made him listen (he was sitting right there with me) to a very stressful two-hour phone conversation, all of which brought back painful memories of my mother's death? That cost: incalculable.

Of course, like most Texas residents, my father has plenty of American Airlines horror stories of his own. So, after I hung up the phone, we spent a VERY anxious hour waiting to see if the promised ticket would come through (I fully expected another screw-up, another phone call, more shouting). While we waited, my dad opened a bottle of wine, and we traded stories of being mistreated by American Airlines over the years. We were still talking about how much we hated American Airlines when, at last, the ticket came through.

Complimentary.

Right.

So, American Airlines, as you remind me every time I fly, I have a choice of airlines. I will not be choosing American Airlines again. But because your social media managers at Twitter had an interest in my story and I promised to provide the story, now you have it. Contact me at laurakgibbs@gmail.com if you have any questions. I certainly hope you investigate this incident to see what went wrong so that it will not happen to anyone else again. You need to figure out why your computer system sends out "ready for check-in" emails to people who supposedly don't have tickets but who really do have tickets. In my case, an overpriced ticket purchased in desperation during the ice storm of 2015.

And now...... a meme for the occasion. I say I won only because, despite AA.com customer so-called service, I did manage to get home, and without paying even more money than the amount I had already overpaid.

Update: May 20. When AA.com rejected the complaint I filed with a link to this case history, they told me to fill out their little box online instead. Use as many boxes as you need, they said. It took 8 boxes. Why don't they just make the box bigger...? Meanwhile, WITH GREAT PLEASURE, I booked my next flight to Austin on Delta (via Atlanta). I am very glad that I do indeed have a choice when I fly, as AA always reminds me at the end of every flight.

Update: May 22. I have received an apology from American Airlines. Not just an apology, but a sincere apology. They need to change the canned response about "a little longer" to answer, though, since the whole point was that they NEVER answered; the system was so completely broken that there was no callback at all. Oh well. At least they want to apologize. Sincerely. But you know, it would have been nicer if it were not just copied-and pasted. Is it possible to copy-and-paste sincerely? I wonder.
During high call volume, we have the capability to send calls from one reservations center to another to ensure the most efficient handling possible. Still, despite our careful planning and sophisticated equipment, there will be times when it may take us a little longer to answer. We are sorry for any additional inconvenience or frustration. The other matter you mentioned concerns us as well. What happened with your return ticket should not have. We are sorry you were inconvenienced. Additionally, we expect our employees to be courteous and helpful at all times and especially in situations such as you described. Please accept my sincere apology.






UPDATED: Rhizo15 combination feed - more blogs added!

I've synched my RSS combo feed for Rhizo15 with the blog post list at Lenandlar's blog. I found a few new blogs to add as a result!

So, in addition to looking at the list to click through at Lenandlar's blog, you can also subscribe to the combination RSS feed if you use a feed reader: Rhizo15 RSS combo feed.

Alternatively, you can access the OPML file for that combo feed here: OPML file. You can also look at HTML scrolling view, 20 posts per page, here: Rhizo15 posts: scrolling. (Those are more-or-less in date-based order, but when I add a new blog, it grabs all the posts in that blog and puts them at top, with new posts at that blog then going into the standard newest-first date-based display.)

For Inoreaders out there, I made an Inoreader bundle: Rhizo15 Bundle. Anyone can view the bundle, which is a new way in fact to preview how Inoreader works as a feed reader... basically: it's Feedly on steroids! mega-steroids!

Admittedly, there continue to be a few blogs I cannot add to the combo RSS feed:

http://shukiesweb.blogspot.com
   (apparently not using a label for Rhizo15 posts?)

https://becomingeducational.wordpress.com
   (also apparently not using a tag or category?)

https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/college-ready-writing
   (Lee told me IHE uses Drupal for the blogs...?)

http://ryan-p-randall.github.io/tags/#rhizo15
   (I can't see how to get a tag-specific RSS feed here)

So, if anybody has insight into Drupal or Github, let me know! I've had fun learning for myself about how tag-specific feeds work not just at Blogger and WordPress (which I knew about already), but also at Known, Tumblr, and Weebly.

Anyway, I wanted to provide this update about the combination RSS feed... and now I am going to go do some reading and try to get back into the rhizo swing of things after having been out of town and (mostly) offline last week. :-)



Interview with Howard Rheingold

I just got back from out of town with so much to catch up on that I am not even sure where to start — and I'm sharing this with #Rhizo15 too as a promise to get caught up there soon!

First of all, though, I wanted to share this fun interview with Howard Rheingold along with a BIG THANKS to Howard for giving me this great chance to share the things that my students and I are doing at University of Oklahoma. Keyword: FUN! :-)

Teaching The Humanities Online: Blog post from Howard with lots of links and such, and here is the accompanying Vimeo video.


Laura Gibbs from Connected Learning Alliance on Vimeo.

I was so glad to have a chance to do this interview, especially as I will be attending DML2015 in LA in June and getting to meeting lots of new people who are doing great connected learning projects also! You can find out more about DML and connected learning at the DML Initiatives page. Participating in DML Connected Courses last fall was a really important event for me, and I would urge everybody to explore that DML website. It is full of inspiring stuff!







Sunday, May 10, 2015

IE UnTextbook Summer Diary: Sunday, May 10 - PDE Ramayana done!

I am really glad about this: the PDE Ramayana is done! The first pass anyway. All 80 pages! You can see the index here: Ramayana Online: Public Domain Edition.

I'm sharing this as a #Rhizo15 post because this post is also a paean to LINKINESS, which is something magical about the web, and very rhizomatic too, I think.



The idea with this project is to give my students an online equivalent to the paperback book that, in the past, has been their first introduction to the Ramayana, a lovely English-language adaptation of Kamban's Tamil Ramayana: The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic by R. K. Narayan (1972). In Weeks 2 and 3 of my Indian Epics class, students would read that book, which was accompanied by Reading Guides I had written; you can see those here: Narayan's Ramayana Reading Guides. I wrote up those reading guides to help the students make their way through the book, and also to include LINKS and IMAGES so that they could go beyond the book, learning more (even much more!) about whatever caught their interest as they did the reading. The book was very nice but it suffered that from being a printed book: no links... and no images. I want a gorgeous color image on every page!

Public Domain Ramayana Translations

Now, moving to an UnTextbook model for the class, where the students will have lots of choices about what to read, including free public domain options online, I needed a good, solid introduction to the Ramayana — ideally, a version of the Ramayana that would be as satisfying as Narayan's book, which, for most students in the class anyway, turned out to be their favorite of the four books they read each semester. I found LOTS of public domain versions of the Ramayana in English, over a dozen... but none of them was really up to the task of providing a user-friendly, two-week overview of the Ramayana. They were either too short or too long, and the language was very dated. They are useful, and some of them are even very useful, but not so much as a first-time encounter with the epic. Plus, they would present me with the same problem I had with Narayan's book: there need to be lots of LINKS for students to use to pursue their curiosity, and there need to be lots of IMAGES to help bring the story to life in a visual way, not just words on a page. Digitized books which consist of page images suffer from the same link-deficiency and image-deficiency of printed paper books.

A New Public Domain Edition

So, what I realized I could do was to create my OWN version of the Ramayana to have online, a "public domain edition" that would be an anthology of the best bits of text from the existing public domain versions, along with public domain images, and lots of links to Wikipedia. This would not only be a good alternative to Narayan — it would probably be a BETTER alternative, except for those students who really prefer to read a printed book. Choosing the contents for this new edition of the Ramayana would allow me to include all the incidents that I hoped would catch the students' attention, telling the story in a fast-paced but clearly segmented way to reduce confusion, with the links and images woven through the text.

Plus, added bonus, it would give me a chance to introduce the students to those many different editions of the Ramayana so that during the second half of the semester, when the students have six weeks of free-choice reading, they would have perhaps have found some favorite authors that they want to investigate further. The idea is that they get to know both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata like this in the first half of the semester, and then in the second half of the semester they choose to do more reading of their choice: it can be all Ramayana or all Mahabharata, or a mix of both, or other kinds of Indian storytelling from the same time period, like the Panchatantra or the Jatakas, along with stories of the gods and goddesses from the Puranas and other religious texts. Hopefully the learning foundation provided by the first half of the semester will allow them to make great reading choices when the second half of the semester rolls around.

Making the PDE Ramayana

In order to make this happen, I decided to go with four sets of 20 blog posts each, with the blog posts being anywhere from 300-800 words of public domain text, plus some brief comments from me. I then made up a list of the 80 incidents from the Ramayana I would want to include, and that turned out to be pretty easy (but it is going to be so hard for the Mahabharata, eeek: I have way too many favorite episodes in that epic).

As I picked the Ramayana episode to include, I was excited at how many episodes I was able to include that were not in Narayan at all! In particular, I included the part about Sita's exile and the birth of her sons at the end. I've also got the demons Viradha and Kabanda, who are not in Narayan, all kinds of good stuff.

Next, I went through and started filling in the pages with chunks of text lifted from the most likely candidates, starting with the texts that have been fully digitized (not just page images). So, I did Mackenzie first, which gave me really good coverage, and then I did some verse segments from Romesh Dutt. I then filled in the remaining blanks with Gould and Sister Nivedita, along with a couple of pieces of Hodgson and one from Oman. When it seemed that Gould or Nivedita were way better than Mackenzie, I swapped him out. I even found a bit of poetry from Ryder, and I also used some poetry from Griffith (although he is going to be hard-going for the students who don't like poetry, so I used him on just two pages). I also used two very literary passages from Richardson (and I need to ponder if I want to include more from her). Best of all, I was able to include some of Manmatha Nath Dutt's literal translation for a couple of pages. Again, like with Griffith, Dutt's English is slow going, but very much worth it. It feels great to give the students a sense, at least indirectly, of the epic style while also letting them know that the whole English translation is available online like that.

Then, I went through the 80 pages one by one, adding an image to each one, along with a kind of "Reading Guide" to smooth over any gaps between the page and to add any extra information that the students might need (with their comments, students will be able to help me do a better job with those notes in future iterations).

So, that is what I just finished today! All 80 pages are done: the public domain text on every page, the comments from me, plus an image. REALLY cool images.

And, since this is all so modular, it's super-easy for me to keep improving this: I can swap out the text for any episode if I decide another chunk of text would work better. I can swap out the image if/when I find a better image. And so on.

In Praise of Images and Linkiness

And here's what I love about all of this compared to a traditional printed book. This Public Domain Edition of the Ramayana is soooooooo connected to a whole world of "stuff" online that they students can explore if they will just click on the links.

So, there are tons of links to Wikipedia articles about all the people and places in the epic, like Parashurama here:


Then there are links to the public domain sources for the Ramayana that I used, so you can click and read all of Frederika Richardson Macdonald's book if you want (public domain! free!), just to take one example.


Plus there are links for the image sources too so that people can learn more about the images if they want. And there are so many amazing images, like this gorgeous depiction of Lava and Kusha's encounter with Rama during his ashwamedha:


As you can see in that screenshot, there are links in the sidebar to all the image tabs at my image library, so for any given character, there are usually several images to look at, and lots of images for the major characters.

LINKS.

Going in all directions. Paths to follow. Your choice.

So................... CHOOSE!

Click.

Learn.

I am very happy about this, and so excited to see what the students will think!!!!!!!

And........ when I get back from Texas, I will start on the Public Domain Edition of the Mahabharata. That will be more of a challenge (the epic is so much bigger!) but also more satisfying (I am a far bigger fan of the Mahabharata). And for that one, Ganguli's literal English translation is already digitized, just waiting to be copied and pasted. :-)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

IE UnTextbook Summer Diary: May 8-9 - blog reorganization

So, Friday was a big BLOG REORGANIZATION DAY, and I'm flagging this for #Rhizo15 also because I'm wondering if my great fondness for blogging and the de-centered content development process it fosters is something for which the rhizome metaphor might work well.


What I realized was that the big, sprawling Indian Epics blog I had been using for the past several years was getting so "overgrown" as it were that I had to let the roots extend outwards so that there would be some new nodes to grow up and out from, while still having everything be connected "underground" as it were. In this post, I will try to show how this blog growth spurt works; I went through a similar process with another cluster of course-related blogs like this some years ago, and I was excited that this moment had come at last for Indian Epics! 

Here are the three interconnected blogs I've ended up with:

Indian Epics: Images and PDE Epics




Indian Epics: Amar Chitra Katha


As far as Blogger is concerned these are three separate blogs, but as far as I am concerned they are three interrelated blogs. Here's what holds them together:
* same basic template (all built off the "simple" template)
* same widgets in sidebar (more about those widgets below)
* identical overview paragraph (with links to all three sites)

At the same time, the three blog sites are very distinctively different from each other, with a different color scheme and a different choice for the patterned background. That sense of "different spaces" (but connected!) is important for the students because it helps to reinforce the sense that they are doing different things with each of these three class websites. The different spaces are also important for me in terms of content development, helping me to spread my content development efforts out in these three general directions, while still staying connected.

Although I had been suspecting for a while that I would have to do this, getting the OER development grant (whoo-hoo!) made me realize that the time had come to make this big decision... and, having made the decision, it was surprisingly easy: everything fell into place, and I was so happy about the blog space when I was done at the end of the day on Friday. If only remodeling a house were so easy, eh?

I was especially happy with the content in the sidebars. I often dither about that, but for this set of blogs, I felt really clear about what I wanted to include:
Overview: This top paragraph is what holds the three sites together; easy to write.
Labels: The labels are working really well for the three separate blogs now, so either one or two label widgets provides all the navigation needed.
YouTube Playlist: I am really excited about learning more about YouTube channels, and I will be encouraging my students to make a playlist for their blog too!
Recent Posts: There are three widgets in each blog sidebar for the latest posts at all three of them.
Twitter: Cleaning up the content allowed me to better imagine how to have new items every day for this Twitter stream, even during the summer! It's a hashtag widget so it will pull from both my Twitter streams plus anything that might come from students also.
Google+: I use this instead of the default Blogger profile widget.
Blog Archive. This is more useful for me than for students/visitors, which is why it is down here near the bottom.
RSS Feeds. I need to think of what cool ways I can re-use the RSS feeds for these sites over at Inoreader! I haven't even started to think about that yet.
CC License. For the two sites where the content is being created by me, I have put a CC license. For the image library site, the contents are public domain (at least, I am endeavoring to make sure that is the case), and I have linked in every case to the website where people should go to find the same public domain source materials that I am using.

So, the blog reorganization day put me off schedule, but I am so glad I took the time on Friday to get this set up and to move Reading Guide content over to the new Reading Guide site. I still have a lot of work to do moving over all the book posts, but those were a mess anyway, so I can clean them up as I repost them, and far better to post them in a new home suited for them! Most important: this all feels very comfortable, very stable, so I can safely let this sit while I go to Texas next week, and then I can see how it suits me when I get back next weekend.

My Rhizo15 "subjective" was working on this UnTextbook, and I have been really grateful for the discussions over the past couple of weeks, the discussion about content in particular and also about the role of the instructor in developing and sharing content. All those ideas and provocations have been percolating as I work through this, and I am sure that the results are going to be so much better than they would have been otherwise. So, thanks to the Rhizo15 gang for getting the summer off to such a good start, and thanks also to Stacy Zemke and the OU Libraries for supplying me with comic books and other books so that Indian Epics next year is going to be such a great experience for the students!

Now I need to see just how much of the PDE Ramayana I can get done before I leave on Monday. I had hoped to finish before I go. That's probably not possible... but I might give it a big push this weekend and see what happens!

HAPPY WEEKEND, EVERYBODY........!!!


Thursday, May 7, 2015

IE UnTextbook Summer Diary: Thursday, May 7

Today was a busy day (family stuff), but I managed to keep on making some progress: two comic books, and another nine pages of the PDE Ramayana... leading up to the story of Sampati and Jatayu, one of my favorites. I am so glad I had the version in Richardson to use there!


Of the two comic books I did, Dasharatha was nothing special (although some students might enjoy all the palace intrigue among the queens), but the Ancestors of Rama one was great. It is exciting to be able to offer students these stories that come from Kalidasa's Raghuvamsha. And such cool stories: Nandini the cow was definitely my favorite, but the story of Aja's magic spear was another good one. I like how the comic book page can stand on its own as a resource for the whole class too, in addition to however many students choose that particular comic book as a reading option. 

  

If not Dave, then what...? Week 4 in #Rhizo15

So, in this week's paradox vortex, it's only appropriate to start the "if not Dave" post with ... Dave:


That challenge immediately made me think of a fabulous response Amanda Rachelle Warren shared at G+ in a similar discussion a while ago:
I am a coach, parent, mentor, cruel despot, enabler, cheerleader, resource, sounding board, index, FAQ sheet, sherpa, touchstone, motivational speaker, big sister, angry god, pack mule, lightning rod, turbine, mama bird, judge, jury, executioner, sidekick, mythical beast, and many other things. — Amanda Rachelle Warren
If you are a Google+ person, check Amanda out. She is a G+ goddess.


Is that list awesome or what? :-)

For the purposes of #Rhizo15 here I picked out what would be my top five. But first, I have to observe that the university calls me "lecturer" ... which is ridiculous of course because I DON'T LECTURE. Nice job, university.

So then, setting aside the official designation of "lecturer" (eeeek), here are my top five:

Teacher / Mentor / Tutor / Co-Learner: Yeah, that works for me (I'm one of those people who cannot imagine any other job really...), and it works for a lot of my students, especially the ones who have a desire to learn something that I can teach in that mutual coolness that is teaching and learning. So, the question then becomes figuring out just what it is I can teach (lots of possibilities) that a given student might want to learn (again, lots of possibilities). Some of them really do want to learn to write, and there's a lot I can teach them about that. I also can teach them a lot about blogging and social media. Sometimes there are students who really are interested in the actual subject matter of the class... although I teach Gen. Ed., required for graduation: I don't count on people necessarily having any interest in the subject matter, at least not to start with. So, that is how I have ended up with the current course design: one that tries to be responsive to student interests, assuming those interests are likely to include at least one of the following: writing OR web tech OR the actual subject of the course (Myth/Folklore is one, Indian Epics the other).

Cheerleader / Motivational Speaker / Lucky Charm: This is huge, especially as students are doing things that are often new to them, and with a fair amount of anxiety too. Students often have fears and worries associated with writing, and some of them have technology anxiety also. Cheering them on is good. The way the class works, they are doing all kinds of things that I find really exciting (creating stories, blogging, building websites, finding and sharing things online), so my cheering is not just some kind of rah-rah formulaic ritual. I am able to share my sincere enthusiasm with them all the time. (Yes, I love my job... and I've designed the course trying to maximize the love all around.)

Coach / Trainer: This varies a lot from student to student, but for students who are not good at coaching themselves, I can be the coach as well as the cheerleader. So, I try to get them on a good training schedule (this is especially true for the students who want to work on their writing; that takes a lot of discipline over time), coming up with the kinds of exercises that will help them work on weak points and build up writing strength. I don't expect this to work for every student, though. For a lot of them, their real work is happening in their other classes or in their internship, etc. I am glad the online course set-up gives me the flexibility to coach or not, in response to how much time/effort a student has available to invest.

Tour Guide / Sherpa / Pack Mule: This is probably my favorite of the different roles. If the Internet is a space, and for some students a foreign space (I often travel different parts of the Internet than they do), I love being a tour guide who shows them around. And yes, I'm glad to tote the luggage, stand in line to buy the tickets, etc., so that the students can focus on just taking it all in and having a good time. And it's even better when they say, "Hey, that was great, and now I'd like to just go off on my own and explore." For the students who are making a small investment in the class, this notion of "tour guide" is probably the one that describes our relationship best.

Librarian / FAQ / Resource: I love to read, and I especially love books. Love love love them. So it is my great pleasure to be a librarian in online digital libraries like Internet Archive, Hathi Trust, Google Books, etc., ready to put heaps of digital books into each student's hands ... if they ask. If they even look like they might be about ready to ask. If they so much as seem to be about to glance in the direction of a book. And since these are free digital books, there are an infinite number of copies on the shelves; nothing is ever checked out so that I cannot just give a copy to the student who wants it.

Friend / Sidekick / Sounding Board / Big Sister / Parent / Mama Bird. This also varies a lot from student to student. Some students keep their distance, which is fine, and some students really seek out the instructor as a potential friend, and that's fine with me too. So we socialize (emails, Twitter, whatever), and sure, that can be about stuff that has nothing to do with class — just life and school and whatever. Sometimes students might be in trouble and they need help (someone who will just listen, some advice perhaps, etc.). Sometimes students are just super-excited about something they are doing and want to share that excitement with someone. It's nice: I really like the fact that, unlike office hours, this kind of online connection can happen in different ways at any time. And sometimes we get to stay friends after the class is over, which is really fun too.

And that covers a lot of Amanda's list. Since I have the luxury of creating an online class that is ultra-flexible, without me giving grades on work, I can avoid the angry god part, ha ha.

As for mythical beast: I'm not just a fox; call me a kitsune. :-)



Wednesday, May 6, 2015

IE UnTextbook Summer Diary: Wednesday, May 6

WOW, what a great day!!! It started with great news from Stacy Zemke, OER goddess in the Univ. of Oklahoma Libraries: I've got a grant to help me in developing the Indian Epics UnTextbook!!! I have PLENTY of public domain materials to make the UnTextbook work... but thanks to this grant, it is going to allow me to try all kinds of new experiments, building paths for students to follow in all kinds of directions.

* Amar Chitra Katha comic books. This is what actually got me thinking about how nice it would be to have some funding! I bought a set of ACK comic books for myself, and then got to thinking how cool it would be if there were a set of ACK comic books on reserve in the Library. So, even before the grant got approved, Stacy helped me get that moving through the Library, and I already started writing up Reading Guides for the comic books. So fabulous!

  

* Movies and television. One of the things I want to do with the grant money is to buy some films to have on reserve. There is already the genius public domain film by Nina Paley, Sita Sings the Blues, so that means there is already one movie for people to watch, but with the grant money I hope to purchase the full version (5 hours!) of Peter Brook's Mahabharata. I can writing Reading Guides to go with the films, helping students link up the movie versions to other versions of the epics.


* Audiobooks. I'm also really keen on making audiobooks available... ideally for remote listening, but I'm not sure about that; students might have to come in and listen to audio on reserve. In any case, I'd really like to share Devdutt Pattanaik's Mahabharata, and there are some other audiobooks that would be nice!


* Books. There are LOTS of public domain books, but of course there are also lots of books not in the public domain that could be really useful. I'd love to "synch" my own personal book library with the Library's resources, writing Reading Guides to help students navigate those books, seeing how all these different books connect. Best of all would be if the Library can buy Kindle books which students could rent and read on their own devices, using the Kindle Twitter feature to share highlighted passages! Now THAT would be awesome, but I don't know yet if our Library can do that.

So, this is all incredibly exciting to me. The Indian Epics UnTextbook was going to work great just with public domain content, but having a chance to interweave the public domain content with Library materials is going to be so cool!

So, that was the big news today, and then I also made lots of progress on the Public Domain Edition Ramayana: I am halfway done! Yep, I finished all the way up through page 40, which is the end of the first week of reading. Sita has been abducted by Ravana, and Rama is on his way to find her! They meet up with the rakshasa Kabandha and get valuable information from him; I was really glad to include the Kabandha episode because he is not part of either of the books I had been using for class — even though he is a super-cool character in the epic!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

IE UnTextbook Summer Diary: Tuesday, May 5

We're going to some friends' Cinco de Mayo party, so I'm publishing this earlier rather than later today! After my first diary post from yesterday where I tried to summarize my progress so far, I can make this more like a true diary post: what I did today (well, in the 24 hours since last post and this one). And I'm sharing this with #Rhizo15 ... Twitter convo about content with Jesse Stommel et al. gave me lots of good things to think about as I worked away on the UnTextbook today, pondering content-as-exploratorium.

Comic books. I did two Ravana-related comic books and they are both going to be so useful, especially Lord of Lanka because it contains the stories of Vedavati (not in either of the books I had previously used for class) and the story of Rambha (in Buck only before).
Ravana Humbled: An Arrogant King Finds New Friends
The Lord of Lanka: The Rise and Fall of a Demon King


PDE Ramayana. This is my main focus right now as I want to get that done if I can before I leave for Texas next week. It is really fun writing up the Reading Guide portion to go with each page (including a few words about the source when a new source gets added to the mix), along with adding an image. I have now FINISHED the first 20 pages, which is the first day's worth of reading (total of 80 pages, four days of reading = two weeks). If printed out as a book, the PDE Ramayana would be around 150 pages I guess... but the whole point is that it is NOT a book. :-)

Ramayana Images. Illustrating the posts in the PDE Ramayana, I had to search for a few new images to include, like this one for Rama breaking Shiva's bow; I really wanted an illustration that put the focus on the bow, and I found this one by Evelyn Paul — it's an illustration for Monro, one of the books that will be a reading option later!


I also loved this Rama-and-Sita sculpture that I found at Flickr. Photographer: Indi Samarajiva.


YouTube. I was listening to background music today, and so I started building a Background Music playlist. Some good kirtans in there, other nice stuff.

Monday, May 4, 2015

IE UnTextbook Summer Diary: Monday, May 4

So, today (Monday) is the first day of summer for me, and I've already made a lot of progress on the Indian Epics UnTextbook, which also happens to be my "subjective" for #Rhizo15 (and as it so happens, the question of content posed for this week really gave me a lot to think about!). So, for this post I'll summarize where I stand so far with the Ramayana. This represents work I've been doing for the past couple of weeks as I've had time to spare... and now I will have lots more time. Goal is to finish the minimum Ramayana materials by May 23.

Ramayana reading options: I've pretty well cataloged the Ramayana reading options, and targeted (with an asterisk) the ones for which I want to write up Reading Guides. Of course, I already have the Guides for the two printed books I've been using. Here are the books I've identified online: Ramayana reading options.

Ramayana Reading Guide. The Reading Guide I wrote today is for Sita Sings the Blues, a video by Nina Paley. I LOVE THIS MOVIE. It was a real pleasure to make the Reading (Watching) Guide. This is a one-week Ramayana option. I really hope lots of students will choose it for the Week 4 "reading" after having read a more traditional version of the Ramayana; they will also have the option of choosing to watch the film during the free choice half of the semester, Weeks 9-14.


Ramayana, Uttara Kanda. I did a detailed link index for Dutt's literal translation of the Uttara Kanda, and I target two one-week reading options from that book. I would love to do this for all the books of the Ramayana (which is barely feasible) and for the Mahabharata too (which is crazy impossible, but I could link to Ganguli just as I have linked to Dutt here), but there's not going to be time, I know, although I do have a giant spreadsheet with the kandas and sargas numbered and titled so I will be able to navigate Dutt more easily. I am glad I got the Uttara Kanda done as a fully linked index that the students can use because my students are very interested in this material; indeed, the whole second half of Nina Paley's film comes from the Uttara Kanda.

Public Domain Edition: Ramayana. I am really proud of what I got one with the PDE Ramayana over the weekend! All 80 pages have content on them now, although I may swap some content out (in particular, I think students are just not going to be happy with Griffith's verse translation; it will be easy to swap that out with Dutt's literal prose translation now that I have started indexing Dutt). It was hard limiting myself to just the 80 pages, but it provides a really solid two-week experience, and I've included excerpts from 8 different sources so far; I hope to include more now that I've got my Ramayana sources indexed. Next step, writing up the Reading Guide portion for each page and adding images. Here's what I have so far: PDE Ramayana.

Comic Books: I need to check with the Library to see if they have processed the order (the wheels of bureaucracy grind slowly... but they are moving forward at least; the idea is that there will be a complete set of ACK comic books in the Reserve area of the Library for students to read). I have completed two readings guides — Sons of Rama: Luv and Kush and Kumbhakarna: The Sleeping Giant — and when I finish this post I will be doing more comic book reading guides today! Whoo-hoo!


Images. I'm in pretty good shape with my image library so while I would really like to improve that, I'm not really stressing about it. I did some browsing for Ramayana images yesterday and found some new items to include for sure, writing them up as blog posts here (I have not done that yet: I have a lot of notblogged images at Diigo). For example, I made sure to include Shabari in the PDE Ramayana (I love her story!), and I found this Balasaheb Pant Pratinidhi illustration from 1911 that I can use:


And searching for Shabari images led me to this YouTube video!


Which relates to the next item on the list! :-)

YouTube Channel. I've never been a good user of my YouTube Channel... but that all changed this weekend! I cleared out all my old likes and playlists (I just had a few, very random)... and made it all-Indian, a resource space dedicated to providing music for the UnTextbook!!! I am really excited about this. If I find a few videos each day to save and share, that will make it easy to include a music video of the day in my class announcements each semester. SO EXCITING!!!


So, I think that's it, and if I forgot something, I'll add it in tomorrow's post. And now........... comic books!!! :-)