November 10, 2005
BRYN MAWR CHEMISTRY PODCAST CRACKS iTUNES TOP 100
Your average quantum mechanic isn't accustomed to fan mail, says Professor of Chemistry Michelle Francl. But Francl has been getting pats on the back from as far away as Australia since her podcast, "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics," broke into the iTunes Top 100 a few weeks ago. To be sure, the Internet-disseminated recordings of Francl's Chemistry 221 lectures aren't threatening the market share of The Wall Street Journal Report or Comedy 365, but Francl has a solid position among her worldwide listenership of struggling physical-chemistry students.
"Podcasting," a term coined in 2003, is the automatic distribution of files (usually audio) directly onto computers or mobile audio devices such as iPods and other mp3 players. Its popularity boomed when Apple recently added a podcast section to its popular iTunes software, and instructional technologists were quick to recognize its potential as an educational tool. Francl created her podcast, as well as a screencast that includes video content, with the help of Bryn Mawr instructional-technology guru Laura Blankenship. After Hurricane Katrina struck early this fall, Francl joined a collaborative effort of the American Chemical Society and the Sloan Foundation to create a collection of educational podcasts for students whose colleges and universities were temporarily shut down by the hurricane.
But Francl says that the technology is a boon for her Bryn Mawr students, too. "They love it," she reports. "They say it's like being able to TiVo the professor. They can listen to it later and repeat the parts that they didn't quite get in their notes, or pause me so that they can think something over and absorb it if I'm going too fast." Francl's chemistry students gain access to the podcasts through her course blog at http://chemistry221.blogspot.com/.
Blankenship notes that professors who are considering podcasting their lectures often express concern that digital files will become a substitute for the face-to-face lectures, but Francl says that she has seen no drop in attendance as a result of her podcasts and screencasts. "They are finding it really effective as a study aid, not a replacement for going to class," she says. "But I do make sure that none of the administrative details are included in the podcast — if you want to know when the quiz is going to be, you have to show up. After all, the student in Nebraska who's listening to the podcast while she drives to work doesn't need to know that stuff."
Blankenship, who plans to give a presentation on podcasting and screencasting courses at a January conference sponsored by Educase, a nonprofit that promotes information technology in higher education, is enthusiastic about the prospects of podcasting at Bryn Mawr. She discusses some possible applications of the technology in her blog, ETC@BMC.
"Podcasting is great because its impact can be very high, but it's a really easy technology to use," Blankenship says. "You don't need any unusual technical aptitude or expertise."
"Some professors have required students to listen to a podcast lecture before class, so that time in class can be spent on more interactive kinds of learning than lectures," she says. She herself has recently used screencasting to comment on student writing in her C-Sem course, "Web of Influence," which explores the effects of digital text on contemporary society. Assistant Professor of Computer Science Douglas Blank has recently begun posting audio files of the Center for Science in Society's Emergence Working Group at http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/local/scisoc/emergence/resources/.
For more information on podcasting and screencasting, see the Educational Technology Center's Web page at http://www.brynmawr.edu/etc/.
^ HEAT WAVE: SOCIAL AUTOPSY OF A DISASTER TO DISCUSS DISASTERS, POVERTY AND POLICY IN KATRINA'S WAKE
For years, experts had been warning of the potential for a meteorological catastrophe, but as the threatening weather system approached, key public officials left their posts to take vacations. They didn't return until days after the bodies of the victims — mostly poor, black and elderly — began to pile up. Sociologist Eric Klinenberg, who will give a public lecture at Bryn Mawr College on Nov. 15, published a thorough examination of these events and the social conditions that led to them — more than two years before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.
Klinenberg's book, Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, deals with an earlier weather crisis that took more than 700 lives in Chicago during a single week of 1995. The tale's eerie resonance with the recent disaster on the Gulf Coast, he says, illustrates the failure of officials at all levels of government to absorb the lessons of the Chicago heat wave. Klinenberg will discuss the endemic social problems that are revealed by disasters in "Cities and Disasters," a lecture in Thomas Great Hall, Bryn Mawr College, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, from 8 to 10 p.m.
Klinenberg, an associate professor of sociology at New York University, has won broad acclaim for his work in Heat Wave. Says Charles Taylor of Salon.com: "What makes Heat Wave such an essential book at this moment in American politics is that, using the 1995 heat wave as his paradigm, Klinenberg has written a forceful account of what it means to be poor, old, sick and alone in the era of American entrepreneurial government. … It's hard to put down Heat Wave without believing you've just read a tale of slow murder by public policy."
^ KING LEAR
The John Keats sonnet "On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again" inspires a meditation on the relationship between reading and doing in the Bryn Mawr-Haverford Theater Program's fall production of King Lear. The production is set to open this Friday night, Nov. 11, with additional performances on Nov. 12, 13, 17, 18 and 19. All performances are at 7:30 p.m. in Goodhart Theater. The play is free and open to the public.
Director of Theater Mark Lord, who is directing the production, describes it as a "miniaturized" Lear, with a running time of about 65 minutes. It incorporates the Keats poem as well as some material from the famous 19th-century Tales from Shakespeare, a children's book written by Charles and Mary Lamb. The focus, says Lord, is on "the moment when reading becomes acting." Designer Hiroshi Iwasaki's set transforms a library table into a stage to foreground the relationship between interpretation and performance.
"I thought, 'Let's take a look at this 400-year-old text — which time should have stripped of its power by now — and see what happens when we read it,'" says Lord. "It turns out that it isn't devoid of power at all: there is a lot of material that feels very contemporary."
"King Lear is a play that has great parts for women and great parts for young people," Lord notes, "but it focuses on a character who obviously is far beyond our student cast in terms of life experience, so it presented a great challenge" for the cast of 11 women and two men.
Anna Marciniak, a senior theater major, plays Lear. Jenny Brindisi '08, Elizabeth Elliott '08 and Aditi Vashist '08 play Goneril, Regan and Cordelia, respectively; Susan Willis '06 plays the Fool. Masha Kapustina '07 is stage manager for the production.
Jambalaya, curried couscous salad, spinach orzo with roasted red peppers and pine nuts, and a chocolate zucchini cake were on the menu at a reception honoring the winners of Bryn Mawr College Dining Services' (BMCDS) annual "Taste of Home" contest during Parents' Weekend. Those dishes will now enter the BMCDS cookbook, and home cooks Tom Ekman, Candy Berlin and Hyla Vine have taken home award plaques and $100 gift certificates for submitting the winning recipes.
Now in its fourth year, the Taste of Home program solicits recipes from the families of Bryn Mawr students in four categories: Entrée, Vegetarian Entrée, Side Dish and Dessert. Four finalists were selected in each category by Associate Director of Dining Services Dave Chase and a panel of cooks representing all of the College's dining halls. A panel of five staff members and four students then sampled the 16 dishes that made the finals.
The jambalaya recipe, which won the entrée category, was contributed by Ekman, the father of Diana Ekman '09; Berlin, the mother of Rebecca Kaufman '08, took both the vegetarian-entrée category and the side-dish category with her couscous salad and orzo, respectively; and Vine, the mother of Ilana Vine '09, submitted the chocolate zucchini cake that won the dessert category. The awards were made at a reception in the Dorothy Vernon Room on Saturday, Nov. 5. "There was a really good turnout of both students and parents who came and sampled the winning dishes," reports Dining Services student worker Kristina Copplin '06.
The College's sixth annual Combined Workplace Giving Campaign began Monday, Oct. 17, and the goal for this year's campaign is $20,000. As of Wednesday, Nov. 9, a total of $6,992 has been pledged to the campaign.
The organizations the campaign supports are the AIDS Fund, Bread and Roses Community Fund, the Environmental Fund for Pennsylvania, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Womens Way. Donors may even earmark their donations for specific agencies. Each organization also has dedicated funds for Hurricane Katrina relief.
If you would like information about the organizations, you can download a PDF version of the fact sheet here. You can also download a PDF of the donor form here. Blue folders containing more information are still available at the Benham Gateway, Campus Center, Canaday Library, the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Human Resources, Ward and the cafeterias of Erdman, Haffner and Rhoads.
All donors, regardless of the size of their gift, are eligible to be entered into a drawing for four $25 gift certificates from Strawbridge's. The College will also be giving away an additional four $25 gift certificates just for first-time givers.
Meeting the campaign goal will mean more than a colorful turkey, says campaign committee member Tracy Youells, production associate in Public Affairs. "The campus community's gifts can make a real difference for the organizations and agencies meeting the needs of our neighbors, our environment and our ideals."
In recognition of the academic and athletic efforts of Bryn Mawr's fall athletes, four cross country runners, two field hockey players, five members of the soccer team and four volleyball players were named to the Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll this afternoon.
The criteria for the award are that a Centennial Conference student-athlete must be a starter or key reserve on her/his team, must be a sophomore or higher in class standing, and must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.40 or higher.
The following Bryn Mawr student-athletes were members of the Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll this fall:
Hannah Hagstrom '08
Giovanna Hayward '08
Lana Momani '06
Jessie Posilkin '06
Diane Ghrist '07
Katie Maza '06
Michelle Corder '08
Zoe Fuller-Young '08
Katy Shaw '06
Amelia Taylor '06
Krystin Wessner '08
Taylor Beaudry '06
Stephanie Heslop '06
Katie Kronbergs '08
Louisa Smythe '07
Free Culture. How do technology and the law affect our freedom to create, build and imagine? Assistant Professor of Computer Science Douglas Blank and Rebekah Baglini '07 will discuss these issues at the Center for Science in Society's regular brown-bag lunch forum this Friday, Nov. 11, at 1 p.m. in the Multicultural Center living room. The discussion, titled "The Internet and the Free Culture Movement," is free and open to all; refreshments will be served.
Performing Artist Meredith Monk Offers Workshop. Composer, singer, director and choreographer Meredith Monk, a pioneer in "extended vocal technique" and interdisciplinary performance, will give an interdisciplinary workshop in Pembroke Dance Studio on Friday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m.; a reception and question-and-answer session will follow. The workshop is free and open to the public; however, there will be spaces for only five participants, with five to 10 more to be added to a waiting list. The event is offered in partnership with Montgomery County Community College, where Monk and her ensemble will be performing the following night, Nov. 19.
Doing Good Business. On Wednesday, Nov. 16, Margaret Benefiel will present a lecture titled "Values and Business: Strange Bedfellows or Natural Partners?" in Carpenter 25 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Benefiel teaches at the Milltown Institute in Dublin, Ireland, and at Andover Newton Theological School in Boston in the areas of spirituality and organizational leadership. Her latest book, Soul at Work: Spiritual Leadership in Organizations (Seabury Books, 2005), draws on case studies of the ways value systems affect the performance of corporations and nonprofit organizations. The lecture is free and open to the public.