18.644 advice on shifting to e-publication

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2005 07:07:08 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 644.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: Lorna M Hughes <lorna.hughes_at_nyu.edu> (12)
         Subject: Re: 18.638 advice on shifting to e-publication

   [2] From: "Rabkin, Eric" <esrabkin_at_umich.edu> (91)
         Subject: RE: Advice on Shift to Electronic Publication

         Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2005 06:57:08 +0000
         From: Lorna M Hughes <lorna.hughes_at_nyu.edu>
         Subject: Re: 18.638 advice on shifting to e-publication


If your School has a Course Management System of some sort in place (such
as Blackboard), it is a great tool to "package" course readings and other
teaching materials all in one place for the students and faculty. I use it
for all my course readings now, and it works very well. And as the system
is restricted to students who are actually taking the course, our
University considers that the system adequately protects the copyright of
the materials that we are user, so that's one less thing to worry about...


         Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2005 06:57:28 +0000
         From: "Rabkin, Eric" <esrabkin_at_umich.edu>
         Subject: RE: Advice on Shift to Electronic Publication

I'm the resident computer guy, too, so my views about electronic
publication may also be suspect, but I hope not. I offer three points
that may be worth consideration in the budget discussion.

(1) Much of the discussion shouldn't be about budget but about the
utility of electronic publication. Most people prefer printed, bound
books to electronic texts, but not for everything. (a) Documents that
are susceptible to significant change are better in electronic form.
This covers everything from personnel policies to lists of recommended
reading on syllabi. We are implementing a policy in our arts and
science college that will require every section of every course to have
at least a minimal course web site for many reasons but one of those is
that key documents like the syllabus can be revised at need during the
semester. The University's Standard Practice Guide also is online for
similar reasons. (b) Documents that one wants to study are often better
in electronic form because they can be searched, text-manipulated, etc.
(c) Documents that one wants to share (for purposes of annotation,
collaboration, and so on) are often better in electronic form. In
short, one needn't talk about replacing paper with electrons but in
which cases to provide electrons and whether or not those cases could do
without paper.

(2) If we are talking about budgets, we need to ask about the total
budget environment. At the University of Michigan, the basic computing
package each member of the community (student, staff, and faculty)
receives includes a certain number of pages printed. If my department
made documents available in electronic form only while knowing that the
use of those documents was likely to impel students to print them, once
the basic printing allowance were exceeded, the costs would simply shift
from the department to the students. One can entertain that
possibility, but one ought to do so thoughtfully. An alternative that
arises immediately is to increase the printing allowance. But, at least
at U-M, that means providing more funds from the central administration.
Those funds have to come from somewhere and might arguably straiten the
provision of funds to the college and hence to the department.

(3) The provision of electronic documents has a ong-term virtue
independent of budget discussions. Those who get used to accessing
online materials seem to come more easily to posting them. Faculty who
begin to post mandated syllabi soon find that the automatic links
available to their reserve lists are too easy to post, too, not to
enrich those syllabi. If there are digital tools our colleagues have
yet to exploit in part because they don't see the online environment as
where they do their real work, making part of their teaching better by
electronic means may lead to trying out those new tools.

At least, that's the bet w're making at Michigan.

Best wishes,


Eric S. Rabkin 734-764-2553 (Office)
Dept of English 734-764-6330 (Dept)
Univ of Michigan 734-763-3128 (Fax)
Ann Arbor MI 48109-1003 esrabkin_at_umich.edu
Received on Thu Mar 17 2005 - 02:21:17 EST

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