mamamusings: May 25, 2003

elizabeth lane lawley's thoughts on technology, academia, family, and tangential topics

Sunday, 25 May 2003

ridiculously easy group-forming software?

I feel a little sheepish asking this, since I seem to have been dubbed an “industry expert” in this area, but I need to find a software package (preferably free) that will support group-based communication (threaded forums, basically) and maybe document sharing for a group of faculty in my department.

I’m leaning towards a very simple solution, which is to create a group weblog with all the faculty as authors, and use simplecomments to allow either direct commenting or trackback-based commenting for those few of us who already have MT weblogs.

But what I really want is something more like Yahoo! groups, but without the ads. I have access to a server that will support most scripting and db environments, so installing something is not a problem.

Anybody know of an integrated tool that provides threaded forums, and other bells-and-whistles (calendaring, for example) that can be run locally rather than through an ad-based service?

Posted at 10:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
more like this: social software

free at last, free at last!

Classes are over, grades are submitted, only a few more days of meetings next week. I can feel myself unwinding—it’s almost tangible. Physical tension melting away along with the mental. During the school year, there’s a constant monkey on my back—the feeling that there’s always a little bit more I ought to be doing. More student (or committee, or colleague) mail I should read and respond to. More attention paid to the grading of projects. More effort in the preparation for classes. More time spent answering questions. Falling asleep becomes a nightly battle to banish those “do more” demons.

The June following my first year as a professor, I remember sitting out on my back deck with my husband. As we sat there looking at the newly-planted garden, and the kids on the swingset, I realized that this job bears a strong resemblance to a very, very old joke: “Why are you banging your head against the wall? Because it feels so good when I stop.”

Yes, academia is filled with petty politics and outrageous stresses. But there are many joys associated with this job—some of which were reaffirmed yesterday during commencement. Shaking the hand of each student (hundreds of them) after they crossed the stage and received their diploma (well, their diploma case) is a wonderful feeling. Hugging the many of them whose lives I know I’ve touched—and who have in turn enriched mine—is even better. All my resentment of academia’s ills fades away when a student comes up to me during the line-up for the commencement processional and says “I want you to know that your class had the most impact on me here—it made me realize what I wanted to do, and that I could do it.” Or when a parent says “He’s told me so much about you, and I’m so grateful for all the support you’ve given him while he was here.”

So the school year ends—as it always does for me—on a note of gratitude and hope, and the summer stretches out in front of me…three months of relaxed schedules, time with my family and friends, and intellectual energy freed up to devote to my upcoming grant research (more on that later this weekend). Oh…and blogging, of course.

Posted at 10:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)
more like this: teaching
Liz sipping melange at Cafe Central in Vienna