something that always makes me smile

Free books!


Well, I did earn these.

I was recently awarded a $100 Emerging Technology grant to explore my use of blogs in the graduate course, ENGL 745-Communication Strategies for Emerging Media. If you recall, I also earned one of these grants to explore using Twitter in ENGL 101-Freshman Composition, with the final report posted on this site under Twitter Research.

Below are excerpts from my grant application:

During the Fall 2010 semester I have required my graduate students (ENGL 745-Communication Strategies for Emerging Media) to maintain a blog as a reading journal. I had originally thought to have one course blog where we all contributed, but I realized there may be repeat entries on the assigned readings, so I opted for students to create individual blog spaces so they can share their responses and comment upon each other’s posts. The added value of writing in a public space such as a blog is that students need to consider an audience wider than their instructor and peers.

Given that our Masters of Science program in Technical and Professional Communication is in its first year, my ultimate intent is for these graduate students to include posts about other courses they are taking this semester and/or continue to blog throughout their time in the program.

As a blogger, Internet researcher, and teacher, my career is focused on engaging students and remaining relevant. With this said, I hope to draft a chapter-length paper that analyzes the reach of these graduate student bloggers’ public discourse and the evolution of their identities as young academics. Based on their end-of-the-semester reflections, I also plan to speculate my future pedagogical use of a blog space over a D2L-based discussion forum.

Because I am also a faculty member in the newly revised undergraduate Technical Communication program, this project will greatly aid me when teaching courses devoted to digital humanities, not to mention enhance discussions about conducting research in virtual spaces.

I look forward to sharing my research findings with those here at UW-Stout interested in digital storytelling, public writing, and social software; doing so will let me generate new connections both in my home Department of English and across campus.

Here are the titles I ordered with the grant money:

  • Because Digital Writing Matters: Improving Student Writing in Online and Multimedia Environments
  • Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press
  • Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters
  • Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices (New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies)
  • Digital Literacy for Technical Communication: 21st Century Theory and Practice

    Anyone have other titles to suggest for future reference?

  • 2 thoughts on “something that always makes me smile

    1. Dr. Pignetti,

      I have very mixed feelings about your grant proposal. One the one hand, I realize the importance of publishing in academia. I am looking for similar opportunities myself.

      On the other hand, I can’t shake the feeling that I am participant in a study that I didn’t sign up for. Blog participation was a requirement in Engl 745, and I respect your decision to do so, but it has taken a normally private endeavor, one’s own education, and placed it into the public domain.

      I really cringed earlier in the semester when I read your earlier summary of how you perceived our class’s reaction to the blogging exercise in your September 30, “Metablogging” post. I felt as if what was happening in the “classroom” wasn’t staying the classroom. Although I knew this was a public exercise, it didn’t hit me until then.

      So perhaps this is a very good example of Albrechtslund’s paper on surveillance? Had you posted those same thoughts and ideas on Facebook, I would have never seen them, but in this exercise there is a bit of forced surveillance of sorts.

      I am concerned that your proposal will not be an accurate representation of our class’s thoughts on this exercise. By tying blog use to our grades, there is no incentive for us to blog what we really thought of the exercise and every reason to create a genial response.

      Even now, I worry about sharing my thoughts with you since you are the one who grades my work. However, I hope that this will be received in the professional spirit that it was written.

      I am thankful for the opportunity to consider how I will use my students in research.

    2. Kelly–I do understand your concern coming from an assignment that’s being graded, but you should know that I didn’t paste in my entire proposal and there is no specific publication drafted yet. I take any project that involves participants seriously and have already looked up UWStout’s Institutional Review Board guidelines. This would probably be a longitudinal study anyway since I say I’m interested in seeing if any of you continue to blog.

      Also, I haven’t yet asked for the end-of-the-semester anonymous feedback that I mention, which is what I would use in a qualitative report. All that I am doing now is using the grant money to read up on blogs and seeing how I might continue to use them in future courses. If I feel the need to quote from anyone’s blog, I would ask permission first.

      See here for a similar type of publication on the use of blogs in a classroom: which, while empirical, also fits this definition of “teacher research”

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