Opportunities: Comforting Content for COVID-19 Coping

Mose has an expression of curiosity.
Mose has an expression of curiosity.

The OpenLab created a new project site called “Comforting Content for COVID-19 Coping.” It’s essentially cute videos and photos of animals. I’ve added some things of my cats Mose and Miao Miao. Others have added links and other content with more posts to be published soon. If you’d like to check it out, you can find it here. And, if you’d like to contribute, there are directions about how to on this page.

Opportunities: Counseling for City Tech Students

I think it’s safe to say that everything about what we’re now going through and dealing with is difficult, hard, and stressful.

City Tech has a Counseling Center staffed with helpful and caring folks who want to help students face these challenging times. While they currently can’t meet face-to-face, they have other ways of talking with students online or over the phone. Up-to-date information about contacting them is available on the City Tech Counseling website here.

Also, NYC Well offers counseling for all New Yorkers via text, talk, and chat through their website. They also maintain a curated list of wellness apps that offer support for a variety of things.

Assignment: Lecture 8 on the Golden Age of SF Part 2 and Conducting Research

Greetings, all! I hope that you and your families are doing well in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

This week, I posted two lecture videos. The first is the second part of the “Golden Age of SF” and it covers Robert A. Heinlein’s “All You Zombies–” and Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations. After you read both of those stories and listen to the lecture, remember to write at least 250 words summarizing the important points from the lecture and the two stories. Copy-and-paste your summary into a comment made to this post.

The second video discusses the research essay project and how to research your topic in the databases and ebooks available through the library. Two things that I forgot to mention in the video: First, perform a quick check in some of the databases for the work that you plan to write about. If there’s not much there, you should consider switching to a different example. Second, your research does not all have to be about the example that you are writing about. For example, you could choose to write about Janelle Monae’s Metropolis EP. There might not be much in the databases specifically about this album, but there will be articles about science fiction and music, which you can reference in your discussion about Monae’s work.

This week’s summary shouldn’t refer to the research lecture–it’s purpose is to help you with your essay project.

This week’s summary should focus on the Golden Age of SF Part 2 lecture and the readings.

I’ll have office hours Tuesday from 5-6pm. I’ll post a link beforehand to the Google Hangout. Also, I’m available by email at jellis at citytech.cuny.edu.

Announcement: (Hopefully) Final Schedule and Info on Spring Recess

Greetings, all!

I hope that you and your families are doing well. This is a trying time for us all, and I wish you both strength and serenity to make it through to the other side of these trials we must face.

By now, I hope that you have heard the announcements by Chancellor Matos Rodriguez about changes to our academic calendar. If you haven’t, you can read his announcement here. Essentially, he devotes some of this week to what he calls the “Recalibration Period for Educational Equity,” which is meant to streamline some of the online teaching and access to computers for students, and the new, shortened Spring Recess, which will be Wednesday, April 8 through Friday, April 10.

Due to this new schedule, we won’t have lecture this week or next. However, I will be working on my video lectures for you to resume the week of Tuesday, April 7 (a CUNY Conversion Day), and I will be available to talk over email (jellis at citytech.cuny.edu) any time and my next video office hours will be on Tuesday, April 7.

Please use this hiatus to take care of yourselves and your families. If you have time available, get caught up in our class and your other classes, too. I’m happy to receive your work late–just drop me an email to let me know that you’ve posted it to OpenLab (for your weekly summaries) or email your midterm notebook to me directly.

The currently due Lecture 7/Golden Age of SF readings summary is now due before we return for Lecture 8/Continuing the Golden Age of SF on Tuesday, April 7 (this is a CUNY Conversion Day).

Also, I’ll post this message in a video above soon. Watch it for some additional advice about how to be a successful student with distance learning.

The new schedule for our class is on the syllabus page and included below.

10WApr 1Recalibration Period for Educational Equity, see this message from Chancellor Matos Rodriguez for additional details.
12TApr 7Conversion Day

Robert Heinlein, “—All You Zombies” https://archive.org/details/Fantasy_Science_Fiction_v016n03_1959-03_PDF  

Tom Godwin, “The Cold Equations” https://archive.org/details/Astounding_v53n06_1954-08_Sirius-Starhome  

No class on Wednesday, April 8, for shortened spring recess, see this message from Chancellor Matos Rodriquez for additional details.
13WApr 15Video: Forbidden Planet, https://www.veoh.com/watch/v92428824CnC7T8m4

Lecture on Conducting Research and Discussing the Research Essay
14WApr 22Harlan Ellison, “Repent, Harlequin, Said the Ticktockman!” https://web.archive.org/web/20150226125018/https://cunycomposers.wikispaces.com/file/view/Ellison,+Harlan+–+Repent,+Harlequin+Said+the+Ticktockman.pdf   Philip K. Dick, “The Electric Ant” https://archive.org/details/Fantasy_Science_Fiction_v037n04_1969-10_PDF
14WApr 29Samuel R. Delany, “Aye, and Gomorrah” http://strangehorizons.com/fiction/aye-and-gomorrah/    

James Tiptree, Jr., “The Women Men Don’t See” https://archive.org/details/Fantasy_Science_Fiction_v045n06_1973-12     In-class video:

Star Trek, “The City on the Edge of Forever,” https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/star-trek (Season 1, Episode 28)
15WMay 6Ursula K. LeGuin, “Nine Lives” http://www.baen.com/Chapters/9781625791405/9781625791405___2.htm   Octavia Butler, “Speech Sounds” https://archive.org/details/Asimovs_v07n13_1983-12-Mid  
16WMay 13William Gibson, “Burning Chrome,” https://web.archive.org/web/20190519005941/http://www.housevampyr.com/training/library/books/omni/OMNI_1982_07.pdf  

Video: The X-Files: “Kill Switch,” https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/the-x-files (Season 5, Episode 11)  
17WMay 20Research Essay due before class as a post on our OpenLab site.   Class Notes, End of Semester due as a scanned PDF emailed to Prof. Ellis.   Final Exam due as a Word docx file emailed to Prof. Ellis.

Assignment: Lecture 7 on the Golden Age of SF

Greetings, all!

I wanted to post our next lecture on the Golden Age of SF a few days early to give everyone more lead time to watch, make notes, and before Wednesday, Apr. 1, post a comment summarizing the lecture and the two readings for this week: Isaac Asimov’s “Reason” and Ray Bradbury’s “The Fireman.”

Also, I would like to receive a quick email from everyone as a kind of roll call. I’ll send the request via email, so please reply when you receive that message. You can just say “hi” or ask a question or let me know how you’re getting along. I would especially like to hear from folks having any kind of difficulty accessing OpenLab, the lecture videos, or keeping up with the readings. I want to help everyone stay on track as much as I can, but I need to hear from everyone–those who are handling the shift to distance learning okay as well as those who are encountering challenges.

My office hours this week will be via Google Hangout. I’ll post a link here before 5:00pm on Wednesday afternoon. You can reach me by email any time, and I can arrange separate Google Hangouts with video and/or voice by appointment–just email me with your availability for the week ahead.

Announcement: Going Forward with Distance Learning

Some of these plans might change as I learn more from CUNY and City Tech about particular procedures concerning our shift to distance learning for our formerly in-person class.

Here’s what I’ve decided as a way forward for our Science Fiction class:

  • Don’t forget to complete your weekly summary of the assigned readings/viewing and lecture. These are due before the next week’s class and they should be at least 250-words in length.
  • I will post each week’s lecture as an embedded video on our OpenLab site on Wednesdays at 6:00pm or earlier. Watch these to make your lecture notes.
  • Each week, I will have online office hours on Wednesday from 5:00-6:00pm. This means that I will be available during that time to reply to emails and I will host a Google Hangout, which I will post a link to on our OpenLab site before the office hour begins.
  • I’ve folded video viewings into weeks with readings as we won’t be needing class time to do the viewings. Depending on your schedule, you can keep up with the schedule of readings and viewings as needed. The thing to aim for is not falling too far behind so that you experience each text on the syllabus and you have a chance to write a summary comment for each week’s lecture and readings.
  • With the viewings moved, I was able to open a week for something new. April 29 has no readings assigned. Instead, I will want to hear from everyone BEFORE that date via email about your selected topic, so that I can reply with suggestions. Those of you who have spoken with me already do not need to do this. On April 29, I will post a video lecture with ideas about doing research for your project. Of course, you can begin your research project before that date and you can email me with additional questions about research before then, but I will devote that week’s class to research.
  • Connected to the April 29 research lecture is a change in the final essay project. Instead of emailing me a Word docx file, I will now have you create a post on our OpenLab site for your research essay. I still recommend that you write your essay in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc., but I will give you instructions later this semester about how to create your own post for your essay on our OpenLab site. You will copy-and-paste your work into the post that you create and then publish it. This will create a permanent copy of your work that you can link to from an ePortfolio or show as evidence that you know how to create a post on WordPress, the content management server software that powers about 1/3 of the Internet today!
  • Anyone who hasn’t submitted their midterm notebooks should email a PDF of their notes to Prof. Ellis by Wednesday, Mar. 18.
  • On the last day of class, Wednesday, May 20 (if this changes, I will let you know), there are three things due electronically. First, you will create a post for your research essay on our OpenLab site as discussed above. Second, you will scan your notebooks from the midterm to the final lecture into a PDF and email that PDF as an email attachment to Prof. Ellis. And third, you will have a take-home final exam, which I will email to everyone the week before. Complete it using your favorite word processor, save your work as a Word docx file, and email the docx file to Prof. Ellis.
  • Confirm your final work: For your research essay, you will be able to navigate back to our OpenLab site and see whether your work is visible or not. If it is not, try posting it again. If you have trouble, email Prof. Ellis with details. For your final notebook and take home final exam, please send these as email attachments in SEPARATE emails to Prof. Ellis. I will reply to each email with a confirmation receipt so that you know that I received your work successfully.
  • Please email Prof. Ellis with questions. I will discuss these things in subsequent videos on our OpenLab site.

Assignment: Lecture 6 and SF Film Serials

I’m posting a video of today’s lecture above. It begins with some information about City Tech and CUNY’s response to the coronavirus followed by a continuation of last week’s lecture on SF Film Serials. You can watch the SF film serials Flash Gordon by clicking here and Buck Rogers by clicking here. Watch a few of each to get a sense of what I discuss during lecture.

Due to the changes with the virus response, our next class will be on Mar. 25. I will provide everyone with an update about how we will conduct class online by early next week. In the meantime, you should write at least 250-words summarizing the SF-portion of my lecture above and what you watch of the SF film serials before Mar. 25.

If you didn’t turn in a physical copy of your notebook today, please scan it as a PDF and email it to me as an attachment before Mar. 18 so that I can include it in midterm grade calculations.

Read the posts below for additional information about the college’s response to the coronavirus. I will give you all information about how we will proceed as a class very soon.

Announcement: CUNY Response to Coronavirus

You might have all seen the announcements about the “instructional recess” from Mar. 12-18 and the shift to distance learning beginning on Mar. 19.

I will be in class tonight for lecture and collecting notebooks, but as I said yesterday, students may or may not choose to attend depending on their circumstances and personal choice.

Some immediate steps that we can take in our class:

  1. During tonight’s class, while the class is watching the SF film serial films, I will grade and return physical notebooks as I won’t have an easy way to return these to students following tonight’s class.
  2. I’m giving an additional 1-week extension on turning in your notebook as a scanned PDF for those students who do not attend class tonight. Also, if you are in class and want this extra time, you may take it and submit your notebook as a scanned PDF.
  3. For those folks sending me a scanned PDF via email attachment, there’s lots of ways to scan your notes into a PDF. Google Drive and Dropbox apps on iOS and Android feature scanning features. There are free and paid apps that scan documents, too.
  4. I will explain the research project during tonight’s class and include that in the video lecture that I post after tonight’s class.
  5. For those folks who aren’t in class tonight, you can watch the SF film serials Flash Gordon by clicking here and Buck Rogers by clicking here. Watch a few of each to get a sense of what I discuss during lecture.
  6. I will use time over the instructional recess to strategize how best to move our class to distance learning. I’m thinking that it will involve lecture videos, OpenLab-based writing assignments, and the other projects on the syllabus.
  7. Stay tuned to our OpenLab site for further information.
  8. Be well and good luck!

Opportunity: New Yorker Article Referencing E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops”

Philip Burkhard emailed me a link to this article in The New Yorker magazine that references the story that we read in the unit on Proto-SF, E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops.” Read it here.

If you find things related to the class–articles, videos, etc.–please send them my way and I’ll share them back out with the class!