Is a Blog Right
for My Class?
Amy Goodloe
Teaching with Technology
Fall 2013
Common Faculty Question
I keep hearing about how great
blogs are for teaching.
Should I use one for my class?
My General Answer
That depends on what you want to
accomplish:

a) Feature class resources in one central
(and public) loc...
Can You Be More Specific?
Coming up:
 Four hypothetical letters from faculty
that illustrate each scenario
 My response ...
Dear Amy:
My students take quizzes and post homework
assignments on D2L, and that works pretty
well. But I really don't li...
Dear No Walled Gardens:
True or False?




Students will not participate on it



My main goal is to create a "central ...
Sample Faculty “Hub” on Weebly
Dear Amy:
I don't mind using D2L for course content and
daily activities, but I want to give students
more incentive to pr...
Dear Real World Value:
It depends on what you want students to do:
Option A:



generate content throughout the research
...
Sample Research Blog:
Students Use Through Process
Or…
Option B:



publish only the final results of their
research




work together on design and layout
build somethin...
Sample Research Web Site:
Students Build Published Version
Dear Amy:
I want my students to help each other
strengthen and refine their ideas, but when I
encourage them to engage in ...
Dear Iron Sharpens Iron:
That's pretty much what happens on the best
blogs, so most likely: yes
Possible options:





...
It takes some work!
Students will need coaching



intellectual discourse is not their native
language




model the be...
Coach, Don’t Criticize
Coach through example, not correction




provide sample scholarly blogs
participate as a blog me...
“Public Intellectual” Blog
Dear Amy:
Students in both my campus sections are so
lively and engaged while we're in class, but we
always run out of tim...
Dear Full Steam Ahead:
Yes, definitely! This is what blogs are most
well-suited for.
Here’s your recipe for 24/7 lively di...
Just kidding!
Here's a better recipe:

1.

Learn how blogs work




2.

Start your own (or join one) on a
personal inter...
Appearance


Use an appealing and user-friendly theme



Create a relevant header image



Or ask students to contribut...
Structure


Use blog taxonomies:
 pages (you) & posts (everyone)
 categories (you) & tags (everyone)



Categories vs....
Member Participation
Encourage students to:



share stuff:



Links, videos, resources, examples,
observations, ideas i...
Blog Pedagogy:
Scaffold Activities
Possible sequence:









Member intros
Comments on intros
Reading responses

...
Blog Pedagogy:
Design Good Assignments






open-ended (no right answers)



like training wheels: take them off wh...
Blog Pedagogy
Your Role
How to Kill a Class Blog





micromanage how students use the blog
correct everyone's grammar
...
Blog Pedagogy
Your Role
How to Kill a Class Blog





micromanage how students use the blog
correct everyone's grammar
...
Sample Class Blog:
End of Fall 2012 Term
Fall 2012 Blog Participation:
3 sections; 54 students
Sample Class Blog:
Fall 2013 In Action
So let’s recap…
What exactly is the difference between
a blog and a web site?
Remind me again:
What’s the difference?
BLOGS





process oriented
 emphasizes recent posts
 navigate content through...
Free Web Site Builders
Recommended: Weebly.com
 easy: drag and drop (not HTML)
 pretty (not like old builders or wikis)
...
Free Blog Builders
Recommended platform for class blogs:
Wordpress.com






Hugely popular (and free!)
Pretty easy to...
More Resources
My help site for faculty and students:
http://digitalwriting101.net
Feel free to share with students and
co...
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Are Blogs Right for My Class?

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Target Audience: College faculty

Purpose: through a series of hypothetical "advice column" letters:
-- Clarify the difference between blogs and web sites
-- Identify best ways to use blogs for classes
-- Help you decide if a blog is right for your class
-- Recommend free web site and blog builders

Published in: Education, Technology
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  • I’ve helped faculty use technology for teaching for yearsIn a variety of waysWhen I talk about using blogs for teaching, I often get a variation on one of the four following questions
  • Here’s someone who wants a public web presence for his course materialsHas probably heard that blogs are easy way to publish
  • Long time: blogs were easiest way to publish; can tweak to make them work like web sitesBut now: free web site builders are better options- don’t confuse students about what a blog is
  • Sample Weebly site for professor – resources for students“assignment blog” is link to Blackboard
  • Wants students to have greater investment in writing projectsPublic audience, accountability, pride
  • Blogs: best for processWeb sites: for final versions (more appealing to visitors than “dead” blog)
  • Study guide blog for process and final versionsStudents signed up for topic across multiple semesters and contributed
  • Blogs: best for processWeb sites: for final versions (more appealing to visitors than “dead” blog)
  • Free web site: showcases final results of research
  • basically wants students to engage in more thoughtful conversation through writing
  • Wordpress and Tumblr make it easy to network blogsCan also have all posts aggregate onto one
  • wants to build communityacross multiple classesprovide a way for class to continue beyond the classroom
  • Blogs are a new genre: need to become familiar with their language, terminology, and best usesDon’t use a blog as a prettier version of D2L
  • Category titles shouldn’t sound like the titles of D2L discussion forumsCategories and tags appear on sidebar (tag cloud)They need help understanding what tags are helpful to blog visitors (“gender” not useful on mine)
  • Give them time to learn how to negotiate the difference between “among friends” and “among colleagues”Beyond minimum: extra credit
  • If all your assignments are similar (everyone do x), D2L forums might be betterwhen they’re ready, students will take off on their own
  • Sassy comes to class and participates on the blog: making me “more human” for studentsStudents make headers, which rotateThis is class blog from last Fall, at endThree sections: two campus hybrid, on online for ContEd
  • End of semester for Fall 2012
  • Current class blog (two hybrid sections)
  • Are Blogs Right for My Class?

    1. 1. Is a Blog Right for My Class? Amy Goodloe Teaching with Technology Fall 2013
    2. 2. Common Faculty Question I keep hearing about how great blogs are for teaching. Should I use one for my class?
    3. 3. My General Answer That depends on what you want to accomplish: a) Feature class resources in one central (and public) location b) Design student projects with more lasting value than traditional papers c) Help students deepen intellectual engagement through writing d) Extend student engagement beyond the walls and time frame of class meetings
    4. 4. Can You Be More Specific? Coming up:  Four hypothetical letters from faculty that illustrate each scenario  My response to whether a blog is right for that scenario Goal: to help you:  Understand the difference between blogs and web sites  Feel more comfortable choosing the option that best suits your needs
    5. 5. Dear Amy: My students take quizzes and post homework assignments on D2L, and that works pretty well. But I really don't like using D2L for my course materials. The course builder is tedious and confusing, the design is bland, and each course lives behind a walled garden. I'd rather share my materials with the public, especially other scholars in my field. Is a blog right for my class? - No Walled Gardens
    6. 6. Dear No Walled Gardens: True or False?   Students will not participate on it  My main goal is to create a "central hub" for course materials  I want something with half the hassle of D2L and twice as pretty I will not contribute regular short messages to it False: Yes, a blog might work. True: No. Build a web site instead.
    7. 7. Sample Faculty “Hub” on Weebly
    8. 8. Dear Amy: I don't mind using D2L for course content and daily activities, but I want to give students more incentive to produce research projects that might have value beyond the classroom. Is a blog right for my class? - Real World Value
    9. 9. Dear Real World Value: It depends on what you want students to do: Option A:  generate content throughout the research process    always see the most recent posts at the top sort content by categories and tags comment on each others' posts If A: give blogs a try  let students work in groups to build their own research blogs
    10. 10. Sample Research Blog: Students Use Through Process
    11. 11. Or… Option B:  publish only the final results of their research   work together on design and layout build something of lasting value If B: suggest that students use free web site builders instead
    12. 12. Sample Research Web Site: Students Build Published Version
    13. 13. Dear Amy: I want my students to help each other strengthen and refine their ideas, but when I encourage them to engage in thoughtful discussions in class, their contributions barely scratch the surface. And some students never speak at all. I've tried assigning discussion topics on D2L, but but they never really take off. Is a blog right for me? - Iron Sharpens Iron
    14. 14. Dear Iron Sharpens Iron: That's pretty much what happens on the best blogs, so most likely: yes Possible options:    one class blog several group blogs individual student blogs (networked together) But Blogger Beware…
    15. 15. It takes some work! Students will need coaching  intellectual discourse is not their native language   model the behavior you want create a safe space for students to develop an "intellectual voice” Scaffold assignments  start with low-stakes activities that build skills  be creative: have groups of bloggers engage in “mock debates”
    16. 16. Coach, Don’t Criticize Coach through example, not correction   provide sample scholarly blogs participate as a blog member, not The Judge Clarify expectations, but don't micromanage  too many criteria = paralysis
    17. 17. “Public Intellectual” Blog
    18. 18. Dear Amy: Students in both my campus sections are so lively and engaged while we're in class, but we always run out of time to discuss everything. Students often email me after class to share links or other relevant tidbits from class discussion, but by the time our next class meets, the previous discussion has lost steam. Is a blog right for me? - Full Steam Ahead PS: I also teach an online section, but sometimes it never even gathers steam.
    19. 19. Dear Full Steam Ahead: Yes, definitely! This is what blogs are most well-suited for. Here’s your recipe for 24/7 lively discussion among your students:  Create a class blog  Invite students in all sections to join  Sit back and watch the magic happen
    20. 20. Just kidding! Here's a better recipe: 1. Learn how blogs work   2. Start your own (or join one) on a personal interest (Wordpress.com) Get the hang of categories, tags, posts, comments, blogrolls, etc. Set up a class blog that works like a real blog:    appearance structure member participation
    21. 21. Appearance  Use an appealing and user-friendly theme  Create a relevant header image  Or ask students to contribute?  Enable social features  Encourage student self-expression    Creative usernames Interesting avatars Embedding images in posts
    22. 22. Structure  Use blog taxonomies:  pages (you) & posts (everyone)  categories (you) & tags (everyone)  Categories vs. Tags  categories of books: mystery, science fiction, fantasy, historical, romance  tags for books: childhood, family saga, vampires, WW II, dogs, strong female character  Be creative with category titles:  Homework #5  Halloween & Gender Norms
    23. 23. Member Participation Encourage students to:  share stuff:  Links, videos, resources, examples, observations, ideas in progress   provide support and encouragement   ask some questions and answer others respond to each other as colleagues-intraining (not FB pals) go beyond the minimum requirement for posting and commenting
    24. 24. Blog Pedagogy: Scaffold Activities Possible sequence:        Member intros Comments on intros Reading responses Share relevant examples Comments on examples Analyze artifacts and so on…
    25. 25. Blog Pedagogy: Design Good Assignments      open-ended (no right answers)  like training wheels: take them off when the time comes encourage originality and experimentation emphasize “reader friendliness” indicate a minimum but reward more give students choices in topics, categories, etc.
    26. 26. Blog Pedagogy Your Role How to Kill a Class Blog    micromanage how students use the blog correct everyone's grammar grade everything
    27. 27. Blog Pedagogy Your Role How to Kill a Class Blog    micromanage how students use the blog correct everyone's grammar grade everything How to Grow a Class Blog  don't try to read and comment on every post   share teacherly comments in private participate as a "senior colleague"   not as “the boss” be as authentic as you want your students to be
    28. 28. Sample Class Blog: End of Fall 2012 Term
    29. 29. Fall 2012 Blog Participation: 3 sections; 54 students
    30. 30. Sample Class Blog: Fall 2013 In Action
    31. 31. So let’s recap… What exactly is the difference between a blog and a web site?
    32. 32. Remind me again: What’s the difference? BLOGS   process oriented  emphasizes recent posts  navigate content through categories, tags, dates  members subscribe for updates and to comment possible setups:  instructor is only author but students can comment -OR all students are authors BEST FOR: Providing a place for ongoing conversations WEB SITES  publishing oriented     features static pages (no dates) navigate content through menus no or limited commenting function possible setups:   instructor is sole manager -ORstudents manage their own research sites BEST FOR: Showcasing “finished” materials or research projects
    33. 33. Free Web Site Builders Recommended: Weebly.com  easy: drag and drop (not HTML)  pretty (not like old builders or wikis) Another option: Google Sites  CU “branding”  easy to use  but kinda ugly
    34. 34. Free Blog Builders Recommended platform for class blogs: Wordpress.com     Hugely popular (and free!) Pretty easy to use Great help community For individual student blogs: Tumblr.com
    35. 35. More Resources My help site for faculty and students: http://digitalwriting101.net Feel free to share with students and colleagues! --Amy http://amygoodloe.com
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