Thursday, October 16, 2003
Finding Good RSS Feeds
Kate Britt posted a great question about how and where to find good RSS feeds or good blogs to read. This is a big topic, one that deserves a post to itself, not the least of reasons why is that the ability to discover feeds that are of interest or related to you is one of the major things that has driven the explosive growth of blogging.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
ESL & Native English Classmates Learning Together
In this example, weblogs are being used as a way to facilitate english as a second language learning. The main motivations in using blog technology seem to be that they enable simple web publishing for the students, and that they
"offer the possibility of further discussion and interaction from a much wider audience. This audience can respond to what the students have written by giving suggestions or simply commenting on their writing and the content. This acknowledges the students' efforts plus provides a motivating force."
This particular example comes from K-12; does it seem possible that such an exercise might work in a post-secondary ESL context? Do some of the pereceived 'benefits' of using blogs to facilitate this exercise seem like benefits to you, or could you achieve them using other mechanisms already at your disposal, without the associated risks? What do you think some of those risks might be?
Blogging at the Computer Writing and Research Lab, U of Texas
Here's another example I came across recently of an ed tech department trying to support blogging on their campus. I came across this by way of the paper they cite at the end, "Welcome to the Blogshpere: Using Weblogs to Create Classroom Community." It looks at some of the uses that can be made of blogs in the online classroom, and the kind of 'community' they promote, which while definitely different than closed CMS or threaded discussion boards is community nonetheless. Finally, also from the same institution is this example of an online class exercise where the instructor proposes that students use blogs as a coordination tool to help in the drafting of a group proposal.
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Weblogs for mentoringI don't use weblogs myself in teaching, as I don't really see an application for my subject (math) right now other than possibly as a simple course blog for announcements or some such. What did get me interested in the idea of weblogs in education a few years back was looking at Lloyd Nebres' The Internet Classroom and the Advanced Internet Classroom, part of UC Berkeley's Academic Talent Development Program. (See AIC2003 for the latest version of the latter course, for example.) It's been written about before, so rather than re-articulating points already well articulated elsewhere, let me point you to the excellent 2000 article (originally called A Pedagogy of Nudges) by Laura Shefler. The whole article is interesting and relevant; please read at least the first page to see what I'm talking about in the following.
Sunday, October 12, 2003
At the moment I've got three course blogs:
Shop Talk (http://crofsblogs.typepad.com/shoptalk/) for students in our new Professional Communications Certificate Program
Legal Technicalities (http://crofsblogs.typepad.com/legals/) for the Legal Secretarial students
T.Recs (http://crofsblogs.typepad.com/trecs/) for the Outdoor Rec students
When you visit them, you'll notice a lack of activity—just a couple of student comments, and everything else is teacher-generated. I've recently invited my students to become joint authors, and while a couple of them have expressed interest, no one has taken up the invitation yet. I'll be delighted if and when they do.
Friday, October 10, 2003
Blogs as possible lightweight ePortfolio platform
We are very fortunate to be following in the footsteps of some real trailblazers who have already experimented with introducing blogs in an online setting. One such person is Alan Levine from the Maricopa Community Colleges who developed one of the first so-called 'blogshops' aimed at educators.
One of the ideas explored there was that of using blogs as the basis for an easy (and cheap!) 'eportfolio' system for students. As an example, he points to a eportoflio developed by a student, Ryan Eby that used blog software for its basis.
Gina Bennett's comments on Blogs as new narrative format
I wanted to highlight this comment left by Gina Bennett a few days back. (The *fact* that I have to highlight probably belies one of the things that has likely become evident through the course of this 'discussion' - blogs on their own are not really a good mechanism for threaded or 'focused' discussions. The facilitators were pretty aware of this coming in, but took the chance for the opportunity to expose people directly to the medium.)
But as Gina says:
On a discussion board, we are expected to stay on topic & follow the thread; in the blog, it seems that we are sort of talking to ourselves but with the hope that someone might be listening/reading over our shoulders. The act of reading a blog seems to call upon my active listening skills more than my debating skills.
Boy don't I know this sense of feeling like you are "talking to ourselves"! (maybe now more than ever ;-)
Thursday, October 09, 2003
Matrix of Uses of Blogs in Education
Hopefully from the posts over the last few days you've gotten a better sense of what blogs are, and how you can access them and maybe even create your own. Now we get to move on to the more exciting stuff - how you might use this technology as educators.
We introduced working with blogs in two steps on purposes - though people often only focus on writing when they discuss blogs, for me blogging is a combination of both writing and reading. Working from this premise, I threw together this matrix of the possible uses of blogs in education. (You can also access this as a static image instead of a Word doc if you don't have Word.)
General Applications of Weblogs
Blogs first emerged in the mid-1990s, and their growth since then has been explosive. It's also seen the rapid division of blogs into various genres.
The first of these might be called Hunter-Gatherers. Such blogs result from Web searches that bring useful or entertaining sites into one convenient spot. Hunter-gatherer blogs were the original genre, and their descendants still include that function even when they're more concerned about the individual blogger than anything else.
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Brian Lamb tells all about his first time...
I used to look longingly at all the other people with groovy websites out there. They seemed so together, as if they and that gorgeous Internet presence they had were just meant to be together. But I suppose I just thought of those people as somehow a breed apart... that I could never truly be one of them. I resigned myself to living out my life without a digital presence. I didn't have the skills, for one -- I didn't really even know what "the skills" were, exactly.
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Subverting the Discussion Board
A post today from the "outside world" on using blogs as an alternative to threaded discussions in the online classroom. It seemed especially relevant in light of some of the initial reactions to the effects on 'discussion' being expressed here. To be fair to the author, and to us, we have set this site up differently than one would for a class, basically so as to have an incredibly low barrier for you to add your thoughts, but at the expense of each having an 'individual' space.
So far we've been pretty much posting 'original' material to this site - this post represents another common usage of blogs - reposting articles and material found online, and adding one's own commentary or inserting them in a different context. Are their uses for this kind of 'link commentary' blogs you can think of in your online class? Do you have some thoughts on this particular article on how blogs might work as an alternative to threaded discussions?
Why are blogs different than regular websites
From your experience so far, you might think they're not, only maybe a little messier. But read on to see one of the main reasons why we think they're different, and why interacting with blogs in a new way can radically alter you current information overload... Continuing reading the story
Monday, October 06, 2003
Day one over: surveying the damage...
Yikes! I've been weblogging for a couple of years now, but never gotten so many substantive and thoughtful comments on a posting before, much less in a single day. Sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to offer their views.
It's clearly beyond my abilities to respond thoroughly and fairly to every comment, so instead I've decided to simply quote a few excerpts absurdly out of context, and then react with whatever fool notions pop into my head.
Let's begin, shall we?
Welcome to the ETUG Blogtalk!
Welcome to the site - this will be the base for the discussions on the uses of blogs in education over the next two weeks.
Your guides for the discussion are 4 educators from around the province who each in their own way have been exploring blogs both in and out of the online classroom. We've posted their bios to the site, and you can also check out their personal blog sites by using the links on the lower left hand column.
What are weblogs, anyway?
You may have encountered some of the breathless pieces hailing weblogs for their revolutionary impact in fields such as publishing, journalism, politics, and education. Some zealots go so far as to suggest that weblogs herald fundamental shifts in social organization and the way we work. The resulting backlash to such hype has already kicked in, with critics charging that these claims are radically overblown, that weblogs are ill-suited for many of their purported applications, and that they have already peaked as a web phenomenon.