As I mentioned in this post, ever since I started the 4/4 teaching load I’ve neglected my blog, offering only embedded video and a quick comment or two and rarely a “long thought.”
This semester is different though because I’m finally requiring UW-Stout students to blog, specifically my graduate students and my 1 directed study student, so I’d like to be able to lead by example.
In fact, I’ve been talking blogs with the 101 students too as we work through the chapters in New New Media, but they are only required to microblog via Twitter. This post isn’t really about that exercise, but in case anyone is curious, here are the guidelines I give them:
reference these tweets as a means to generate discussion.
I have to say, I’ve been impressed with the questions/comments they post at the beginning of class as they often take us through the entire 55-minute class period. FYI only 1 student continues to tweet after class…but I digress.
This post is about how all of this thinking about and requiring student blogs has pushed me to step back and return to Jill Walker’s definition and to also think more about what going public with reader responses means in terms of audience, format, and design.
If you check out the ENGL-745 blogroll on the side you can see my students’ responses to readings such as “Looking from the Inside Out: Academic Blogging as New Literacy,” “The Social Media Release as a Corporate Communications Tool for Bloggers,” and “Learning with Weblogs: Enhancing Cognitive and Social Knowledge Construction.” Nearly every grad student was either hesitant or curious about blogs, and only 1 had maintained a blog already, so offering these readings early on about the use of blogs for educational and workplace purposes prompted them to reconsider the medium they had only stereotyped in the past. While there are still a few skeptics, one thing for certain is that they are all realizing how whitespace, images, link, and embedded video can add value to their responses.
Actually, another thing I’ve realized in reading their responses is how many of these MS in Technical and Professional Communication students are also teachers, so I’m glad to have started this course with an emphasis on technological literacy. I’d assumed more would be tech writers in non-academic settings, which is unfamiliar territory to me, but this way we can all reflect upon our own teaching/writing/reading/researching with new technologies and then work our way into the “Work and Play in a User-Generated World” section.
I really hope these grad students continue to blog throughout their coursework because I know how beneficial it became to my research and how connected I became to other academic bloggers, but I can’t and won’t force anything. If they do continue, though, I hope they make their blog space their own.
With that said, I’ll close this post by sharing some links, including one to a resource I never thought I’d take seriously, “8 things every blogger can learn by studying Perez Hilton.” If you take a look you’ll find that it’s actually decent advice! But if that’s not your thing, check out “13 blogging lessons learned from Stephen King’s On Writing” and “How blogging can change your life.”