Posts tagged: Blogging

Post 2K – Thoughts on blogging in a continuous enrollment class

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By , August 9, 2010 2:50 pm

One of the courses that I’m looking into retooling right now is wanting to set up a course blog. And while I haven’t met the instructor yet, my initial trepidation about setting one up for him/her is shared by at least one of the other people on the project. Why?

Well, they want to use Blogger for the instructor and the students. Sure, this is fast and easy… but what happens when the blog next to you isn’t one that you want to be next to? It could be a splogger, a cat blog… or worse (Hello Kitty!). But then what about the student blogs, how are you going to set things up for them? Another mass of student blogs? All possible and all a headache to manage (much less thanks to RSS, but then you have to cross that bridge as well). But here is the twist, there may only be one student in the class at any given time. So what can you do?

Well, I’m thinking… first let’s see if we can’t set up WPMU and make this thing legit. Second, let’s understand that students are as likely to be blogging for the class as they are to be pulling their own teeth – they are going to do it because they need to. You might get the odd student who is really digging it and wants to keep reflecting on it once the class is over, but for most, like pulling teeth, they are only going to jump the hoop once. Thirdly, even though blogging has this aura of being able to put the student at the center of the learning experience, it is still very much the case where students are told what to write and how to write it. It still almost has to be this way in order to create a level field on which the student work can be assessed. Finally… if we know that the students are not going to become bloggers on topic X, and we know that they are unlikely to have a portfolio (yet) where the entries that they do make can become part of a greater whole, why not start them with the most baby step of blogging… commenting. Failing the ability to put these points into action, I’ll say that at the very least, you need to skin Blogger to dump the nav bar.

If the instructor wants students to blog, s/he should be a blogger as well. Without the passion for the topic and without the ability to show students what the process really is, things are going to get boring pretty fast for everyone and the great enthusiasm at the start is going to wither quickly, perhaps on the vine.  So even if the instructor only has a handful of posts, that is a start. The students should then have to comment on the posts of the instructor, who can then post about those comments and bring in new information. Students can also link out to other blogs that are talking about similar material in comments. This way they can get the idea of what blogging can be about. But wait, you say that this is nothing but a glorified message board? You say that it is in-authentic to the ethos of blogging? To that I say… well yes it is. Having every student start their own blog and post on a predetermined topic is basically creating a non structured discussion board anyway. So what is the problem with at least making the thing manageable?

If a student feels that they want to initiate discussions, then they can get a blog setup and then start posting, linking and commenting out to the instructor’s blog and to others out there in the world. Students who do this are more likely then to continue the practice after the course is over (I think). Using this model then, if there is only one student in the class, there is never a problem with having to interact with other students as the key interaction is (perhaps regrettably, but it is bidirectional communication which is a step up from lecture) with the instructor. If there are more students, those who choose to break away add richness to the course and if they continue their reflections on the topic, become a great resource for new students. Instructors who are feeling bold may want to then suggest posts from those blogs to comment on as well so that the students don’t feel that things are canned. This also gets new ideas in for the instructor, who while not off the hook for adding content to his/her own blog, gets to see some other ideas and themselves reflect on some older ones.

I’ll see if this suggestion flies soon enough, if it does great, if not… well at least it’s like everyone who gets off the couch to move… at least “they” are doing it… and you can’t knock them too hard for that ’cause there are many who are not even trying to get up, much less off the couch.

BTW, this is post 2000 according to WP (Object 3543), so it seems that it is somewhat fitting that it be about blogging.

Facebook mobile dominates mobile web

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By , February 5, 2010 12:59 pm

According to the BBC, Facebook mobile dwarfed the rest of the mobile web in usage with 2.2 billion minutes and Google and Microsoft pulling in a combined 600 million minutes in December. If you look at this UK data combined with the PEW data from earlier in the week it really suggests that the 17-30 year old demographic is focusing it’s online activity on what it can do while mobile. When you think about why Facebook, the answer seems to be obvious. On the smaller screen, the “life portfolio” that is Facebook makes much more sense. When you are “out and about”, you don’t want to have to remember where your “mates'” blog is, you’d rather just put in his/her name and go there without having to worry about logins or the other elements that are common to the unwalled web, thus reducing the need/want to post or comment on traditional blogs.

PEW finds that young people are finding long form blogging less “sexy”

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By , February 4, 2010 10:34 am

PEW is reporting that there is a drop in blogging among the under 30 demographic, a general lack of adoption of Twitter, except for high school girls who seem to be getting keen on it. The reason for this drop seems to be Social Media.

But for all the drop in activity that might be caused by the increased adoption of Social Media, there might be an increase of people who will start using traditional blogging for some of the advantages it has (length, data portability) that social media updating doesn’t allow. To me, I would think that if you’ve got a population that is keen on sharing what it is doing with everyone and anyone, but it is one that has just enough time to input a couple taps to update a status, then the lack of longer compositions make sense. But as people get a chance, and are able to reflect on those smaller updates, I think you’ll see old skool blogs coming back.

At the same time, it doesn’t seem to me that old skool blogging is going to take this laying down. WordPress has released tools for all three major mobile platforms and this tool could help traditional blog find a place in this mobile and fast paced world.

Fractionation of my content

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By , August 7, 2009 8:20 am

Well, now that I’ve had some time to get boora.ca up and running the way that I want with a theme that works, I’ve finally got a place that I can put my more personal content. I will still have some personal stuff here, but unless it impacts my ed/tech interests, I won’t have it here, I’ll put it on boora.ca. That being said, there are things that will rock across my worlds and they will get cross posted, but for the most part I’ll try to keep them separate. I’ve got one more blog, and that one is reserved for Bug – it is where I was hoping to write all the things that never got captured in frame, but it’s enough work just to do one thing (the A/V), to say nothing of the writing. But what I think I’m going to do is to write bits based on the stories around each of the picture groups that I’ve taken. And while the videos capture most of what the context is, I’ll help that out a little bit as well.

With this in mind, EDITing in the Dark will still be my main blog and the personal bits here will serve to help those who have me in their PLNs learn more about me so that they can get a better idea of how I think about the ed/tech topics that I write about. Without these personal bits, all we have is cold content.

Another PEW Study

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By , May 2, 2008 4:38 pm

These PEW studies are getting depressing, but they are certainly helping us oldies (yeah right, like I’m an oldie) understand these young’ns. The most recent one is on writing, something of a lost art to hear many instructors of first year university courses – but why is that? Lack of motivation to be sure:

  • Topics relevant to their own lives and experiences;
  • Teachers and other adults who challenge them;
  • Receiving detailed feedback on their work;
  • Opportunities to write creatively; and
  • Having an audience for their work.

Well it seems to me that blogging fits that bill pretty good, doesn’t it? Well it would if instructors at the higher levels were not afraid of marking non standard writing assignments… and what is with the “between 4k and 6K” word limits?? And, and … why so rigid in structure?? Huh?

Before you light off, I understand the limits – they are there to suggest that this is the space that it would take the average student to get their point across. Longer limits earlier because “younger” minds in a field tend to wander. Why all the standardization down to the format? Well, that is not only to help make marking fair, but also to ensure that those who need the imposed organization get it.  Ideally, there would be some instructor/student combos out there who would not have to worry about these guides, but they are there for the majority that “seem” to need them – and perhaps only because that is the only way that we have ever taught kids to write. 

I don’t have the time right now, but hopefully soon I’ll read the report and post back after ward. 

Science 2.0 – Celebrating the formative art

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By , April 24, 2008 3:22 pm

SciAm has an interesting article about the idea of Science 2.0 and how it seems to be slow to emerge. They suggest that the reasons range from shifting researchers from an attitude of competition to one of collaboration (OMG!) and celebrating the formative nature of the Scientific ProcessTM and not worrying that these informal notes are going to be treated the same as peer reviewed work.

If you think about it, there is a reason why the notebooks of the great researchers of the past have been so valuable. These books show not only the final work, but how they got there, something that Web2.0 is/would be great for science. 

This matches up with what Johnny Lee was talking about in his talk. Get the information out there and start the conversations faster. This can have a secondary impact, just like online classwork and conference2.0, when there are strong connections made online, face to face time becomes far more productive. 

Feedburner feeds updated

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By , April 2, 2008 9:07 am

For those who subscribe via Feedburner, I’ve had to update my feed URLs, so if you are subscribed using http://feeds.feedburner.com/boora/BAzP, please redirect to http://feeds.feedburner.com/boora/wmep. If there are any isses with that, please let me know – and if anyone knows how to merge (not transfer) the feeds, I would appreciate that (would simply keeping the old feed URL in the plugin options be best?).

Welcome to the new look

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By , March 31, 2008 10:12 am

If you normally only ever look at the feed, take a look at the blog itself and let me know what you think of the new look. I’m using the Freshy2 theme and have done a few tweaks to get it to use my old header images. Granted, some of them don’t really fit as well as they should, but I’ll take care of that over time.

This is also the first widget ready theme that I’ve ever delpoyed and I must say that it does save a load of time, but makes for some headache as you don’t have all the flexibility that you do in non widget themes (granted, this comment is now at least a year and a half – eaons in blog years) old.

Because all my old plugins were turfed, commenting may be wonky, but let me know if it is.

WordPress 2.5 upgrade

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By , March 30, 2008 10:42 pm

Well the upgrade itself was rather easy – but I forgot to remove the content folder when upgrading, so now I’ve got no plugins and my customized theme may be gone – though I think I might be lucky if I can find an achived version. But on the other hand, this might be a real good reason to update my theme – and why not – I wonder now many people actually look at the pages (though I had a stat that helped with that) vs the feeds.

The 2.5 upgrade certainly 2.0izes the interface, but the write page is a little more cumbersome as the categories are not all presented at the same time. But then again, that might have more to do with this being the first post on 2.5.

So if you see a Coffee Cup theme, I have got things back to normal… if it’s anything else, it’s likely that I’m working to find a new theme… at least I have all my content.

A new way to vlog

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By , March 27, 2008 3:34 pm

I don’t know how old this site is, but Mogulus is a way that you can create your own netivision (is that my neologism, I think it is!) station that can stream content from sources like YouTube in addition to content that you create using the site’s web based software.While I don’t think it’s going to really take over from traditional vlogs that are portable, it might create a new environment for schools that used to dabble in TV and Radio to create scheduled programming – something that even in this era of convenience is a good skill to have.  

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