Second Life at the University of Kentucky: Internet2 Day

Second Life has been an important part of my teaching at the University of Kentucky. You can see the course wikis recording my students’ adventures here and here. Second Life was always a great way for me to bring my personal interest in digital ethnography into my political theory courses to help the students to not just “read” theory, but also to “do” theory as well.

This past Monday I had the great pleasure of participating in a presentation on Internet2 Day about my teaching and learning work in Second Life, along with our Director of the Academic Technology Group (Wildcat Thursday), and incredibly innovative librarian (Alice Burgess) and a faculty member using SL to teach anatomy and physiology, Kezia1618 Landar. I’m the tall handsome fellow, Ricetopher Freenote, in the photo below.

UKSL on Internet2 Day 2011

I really enjoyed “getting the band back together” with Wildcat and Alice. It felt a lot like the early days of our Second Life work at UK. The UK Island has come a long way since then, due to the hard work of many faculty and staff on campus. Thanks to all of them for their hard work! For more info on teaching, learning and research with Second Life at the University of Kentucky, please visit:

Getting Social in the Classroom: Teaching in a Web 2.0 World (SLIDES)

Since I’ve had a few requests for these, I just wanted to share my slidedeck from my September 17, 2010 presentation, “Getting Social in the Classroom: Teaching in a Web 2.0 World” for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kentucky.

[slideshare id=5234277&doc=gettingsocialintheclassroom-100919124946-phpapp02]

To answer a couple of questions:

  • I use Slideshare to upload and publish my slidedecks. It’s free and easy to use, and in keeping with the theme of the presentation, takes a traditional activity (sharing of slides) and makes them more useful by adding a social dimension to it. This deck is posted on a new Slideshare account I’ve created, but you can view some of my past decks for courses at I’ll be moving some of the “greatest hits” from that account to my new account at soon.
  • Almost all of the photos in the presentation were found on Flickr’s Creative Commons pool and attribution is provided on each slide.

Thanks to everyone who came out Friday! And for those who were unable to make it (it was a glorious September Friday afternoon, after all!), I look forward to seeing you at my next presentation (I have an upcoming session on Copyright and DRM as part of this series to be scheduled for later in the Fall).

Originally published on

Disruptive Technology for the Traditional Lecture Model

At the request of Vince Kellen, CIO of the University of Kentucky, I produced the following chart exploring a continuum of the potential of various technologies to disrupt the traditional lecture model of course delivery.

Lecture Disruption Technology Chart

(Chart (c) 2010 University of Kentucky All Rights Reserved)

The idea behind the chart is to examine a continuum of the potential for disruption to the traditional “sage on the stage” model of course delivery posed by a variety of technologies.

To the left of the chart, we find those technologies that are most conducive to the preservation and enhancement of the traditional lecture model. Technologies such as slideware (PowerPoint, Keynote) and the Learning Management System (Blackboard, Mookle, Sakai) serve to reinforce those traditional aspects of this model by making it easier to conduct extant course functions. As one moves to the right on the chart, however, we see the introduction of technologies that increasingly disrupt the lecture model, as well as what we think of as the traditional face-to-face course. Color-coded columns are an attempt to group these technologies together into categories. For example, I’ve placed Second Life and Adobe Connect Pro into the same column as they – at a basic level – seek to preserve an existing classroom form and function, but pushed out into the online setting. The goal of both in education has, heretofore, been an effort at preserving a synchronous environment. Certainly, Second Life can (and sometimes does) go beyond that, but in my analysis, has not gone as far as it could toward the asynchronous experience.

The maximally disruptive technologies on the right are categorized as such because they do the most to take learning outside the traditional classroom environment, bounded by static and predictable time and space, and move learning out into the world in an asynchronous manner.

Over the coming weeks, I will be writing a series of posts to further explain my thinking behind this continuum, and explore the technologies within each category and their disruptive potential.

Originally published at

Book Lists for my Spring 2009 Courses

PS 545 American Political Thought

(click here for the Amazon list & purchasing links for these titles)

Lawrence Lessig Free Culture ISBN: 978-0143034650 $15 ($10.20 Amazon) PBK
James Boyle  The Public Domain ISBN: 978-0300137408 $28.50 ($18.81 Amazon) HBK
Chuck Palahniuk  Fight Club ISBN: 978-0393327342 $13.95 ($11.16 Amazon) PBK
Warren Ellis  Crooked Little Vein ISBN: 978-0061252051 $13.95 ($11.86 Amazon) PBK
Tom Boellstorff  Coming of Age in Second Life ISBN: 978-0691135281 $29.95 ($23.96 Amazon) HBK
Cory Doctorow  Content ISBN: 978-1892391810 $14.95 ($10.17 Amazon)

PS 456G Appalachian Politics

(Click here for the Amazon list & purchasing links for these titles)

Ron Eller  Uneven Ground ISBN: 978-0813125237 $29.95 ($23.96 Amazon) HBK
Peter Bishop and Andy Hines  Thinking About the Future ISBN: 978-0978931704 $19.95 ($19.95 Amazon) PBK
Peter Senge  The Fifth Discipline ISBN: 978-0385517256 $24.95 ($16.47 Amazon) PBK

There will also be a photocopy packet of additional readings available at UK Bookstore.

PS 240 Introduction to Political Theory

Nancy Love, Understanding Dogmas and Dreams (2nd Edition)

Nancy Love, Dogmas and Dreams (3rd Edition)

NOTE: there are many, many used copies of these texts available at local bookstores. If you purchase them new, they also come in a 2-book bundle which will save you money.

Due to a new initiative which I have been tapped to elad at the university, I will not be teaching PS 212 Culture and Politics of the Third World in the Spring 2009 semester. I will, however, be teaching that course during the 4-Week Summer Session in May 2009.

The Future of Higher Ed #1: Accrediting Individuals, Not Institutions

I’ve been thinking a lot about Higher Education lately, specifically future scenarios mapping probable and preferable trajectories for universities. One thing that continues to be a real point of concern is the issue of accreditation – the process by which universities and colleges are certified by outside institutions to provide degrees. The current system is predicated on the idea that institutions are accredited by meeting certain guidelines. But does this necessarily HAVE to be the case?

What would Higher Education look like if individual scholars were accredited rather than institutions?

Image going back to a more Socratic method of education (not pedagogy, necessarily). Socrates wasn’t a tenured faculty member. He was someone who provided an education in collaboration with his students. In modern language, he was his own brand, and educational rockstar, as it were. What if, instead of accrediting universities, accrediting institutions bestowed this legitimacy on individuals?

Individual faculty would then be like modern “free agents,” to whom students would go to or stay away from based on the strength of their personal brand. Students could take online or f2f courses with the faculty of their choice, regardless of location. Universities would remain degree conferring institutions, largely serving the function of certifying that students had obtained sufficient credits from accredited faculty to be awarded a certain degree. Universities might differentiate by devising innovative degree programs and serving as a collaborative hub between individual scholars.

Faculty would have to learn to market themselves by developing and providing innovative, superior education in an on-demand fashion. Groups of academics, either from the same or different disciplines, could form “bands” (like Cory, Mark, Xeni et al at Boing Boing) to aid in their marketing and intellectual collaboration. Academics would be free, then, to create their own departments/committees, structured however they like in terms of organization, curriculum, revenue sharing, marketing, etc. Eventually, these academic “bands” might want to enter into a deal with a university to develop a degree/curriculum in return for the university taking on the marketing, payroll/taxes, etc., or to provide lab equipment, etc. This is similar to the arrangement the Boing Boing folks made with Federated Media, allowing them to focus on content while FM focused on the business back end.

Many academics would oppose this, of course, due to its elimination of the Tenure System. However, the tenure system in the United States is coming to an end. I’ve seen studies which suggest that 2/3 (or more) of all faculty at 2- and 4-year institutions are contingent faculty. Actually tenured faculty only make up about 10% or so of the system. So, tenure, if not already dead is dying in a hurry. By keeping accrediting power with the universities, academics essentially set themselves up to all be low-wage contingent labor. If academics could get past the seduction of tenure, they might find the system I’ve described to not only be more intellectually and creatively rewarding, but also more financially rewarding in the long term.

As we rethink the role, purpose and design of textbooks and traditional classrooms and pedagogy, we might also benefit from rethinking the entire operational structure of higher education.

What do YOU think?

Helpful Advice for Recent College Graduates

One of the really difficult things about being a college teacher is that, after being back for a few years now and getting to know many students on a personal level, I’ve begun to have several students come to me and say “Dr. Rice, I’m graduating in a few weeks. What do I do now?” Many of them had their hearts set on law school, but their LSATs didn’t quite pan out the way they would’ve liked. Many just don’t have the financial wherewithal to go to grad school. Others just went to college because that was “what you’re supposed to do” and now that they’ve reached the finish line, they have no idea why they were ever in college, and have no clue what the hell to do next. It’s like a fairy tale, where you reach the Happily Ever After but don’t get to see how Cinderella and the Prince deal with finances, children and infidelity. Sure, you’ve accomplished this great thing – getting a degree – but how do you answer the “so what?” or “what do I do now?” question?

I’ll be writing a longer post on this soon (once the semester ends), but I wanted to share with you a few sources that I think might help those of you in this position make sense of things.

First, click through Garr Reynolds‘ slideshow outlining Dan Pink‘s recent Johnny Bunko book:

[slideshare id=372443&doc=careeradvice-1209142144854362-8&w=425]

Then go out and pick up Johnny Bunko and absorb it. You will thank yourself later. You may also want to add the Johnny Bunko website into your feedreader (I did). This book is full of fantastic principles in designing a career for yourself, with a strong argument for rejecting the conventional wisdom on careers and career planning.

Second, I recommend you take a look at Steve Jobs 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University. Reynolds and Pink reference this, but you really need to see it in its entirety – and ABSORB IT – to understand the wisdom in Jobs’ words. This address moves me the way few other speeches have.


Graduation is a difficult, traumatic time. Meditate on these two sources, and think about their implications for your future. I’ll have my own thoughts about graduation up soon in a separate post.

The Realities of Being a Writer in the Age of New Media

As always, Tony Pierce is the man. Here’s what he had to say to a group of young aspiring Journalists the other day (straight from the legendary BusBlog):

i said you might come into the office and they look at you and say, can you make it to LAX to interview the CEO of Virgin and review the Donnas playing right there in the terminal and do it with a flute of bubbly in your hand, and can you speed back to the office and write about something else, and help fix this person’s HTML and help fix Typepad, and help resize photos in a web based photo application thats not Photoshop and can you handle it all before it gets dark?


i said write when you come home from the club drunk. i said write when youre sad cuz your dude just broke yr heart. i said write when youre mad write when your glad write when you believe you dont have shit to say. all of thats practice. all of that is so that you can knock out one piece after another when youre getting paid to do it. but you hafta do it when youre young. cuz if you cant do it when youre young you will make up some lameass bullshit when youre not young and then you’ll realize you probably werent a writer in the first place.

I fucking love Tony. He lays out in better language than I could why I try so hard to get my students to blog, to use Ning and Wikis, to do journals about their Second Life experiences. You need to learn to use the tools, because as Tony points out, being a writer is more than just sitting down at the typewriter, like some romantic vision of Hemingway. Today, to bring it, you’ve got to have all sorts of mad web skills. Tony knows. He’s doing one hell of a job revitalizing the LA Times (and he has my eternal thanks for bringing me the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Blog). And this is why I try to get my students to write more, even when its on “frivolous” projects like Ning or short blogging assignments. Work on writing, honestly, the small stuff now. Learn the tools. Then with hard work, persistence and some luck, you can make a go of it. Just like my man Tony.

Now get out there and blog you bums!

Recommendation for PS 235 Summer 2008

Attention Conservation Notice: This post is intended for UK Students looking for a good class to take in the summer. If you’re not a UK student, please ignore. Thanks.

Summer classes are a great opportunity to pick up a USP requirement or a pre-major course in a small classroom environment. It’s one reason why I enjoy teaching classes like PS 101 American Government in the 4-Week session this year or when I taught PS 212 last summer. It’s great to work with a small group of students in a course which would normally be quite large. So, if you need to take a USP or pre-major (100- or 200-level) course, summer is a great time to do it.

I wanted to let you know that one of our best Teaching Assistants, Barrett Osborn, will be teaching PS 235 World Politics in the 4-week session this summer. If you need to take PS 235 to meet a university studies requirement or Political Science major requirement, let me encourage you to sign up for Barrett’s class. also, please spread the word about this opportunity. I have replicated Barrett’s course flyer below.

PS 235-010: World Politics

Iraq…Terrorism…Darfur…Global Warming…These are just a few of the current policy challenges that will continue to play a significant role in World Politics in the coming years.  In a globalizing world community, international discourse and foreign policy behavior are increasingly important to understand and interesting to discuss.

If you have an interest in discussing global problems, their solutions, and learning how global discourse transpires in a smaller classroom setting, you should consider registering for PS 235 World Politics offered in the Summer I Session.

PS 235: World Politics
Summer Session 1: May 2008
Meeting Time: Monday-Friday 2-3:20PM
Instructor: Barrett Osborn

Registration Deadline: April 14-15

Second Life at UK & PS 545 American Political Thought

Since a few of you have been asking, the url for the PS 545 American Political Thought wiki is It’s where the class members are keeping their journals and group projects for the digital ethnography project.

You can also find out more about what’s going on at UK’s Second Life Island by visiting there’s a great bit up now covering Oz’s building of the new Art Gallery. Check out the UK flickr group for more pics on that.