Friday, August 19, 2005


ADVICE SOUGHT: COURSE BLOGS

If anyone has used courseblogs in their courses, please let me know. I'm looking for tips. I'm sick of dealing with our department server, and don't have the time to learn dreamweaver. I know how to manipulate the template settings in blogger to establish stable links to particular pages, such as a syllabus page, and I've already generated several blogs that look nice. But now I need to figure out whether I will integrate them into my teaching or merely use them in a marginal way to post syllabi and publicize my classes. I've looked for courseblogs online, but they are hard to find. If anyone who reads this has experimented with a course blog, let me know what you found out!

10 Comments:

At 11:43 AM, Blogger Artichoke Heart said...

Hey, Professor Camicao! Here are some links to course blogs that I've set up for my students within the last academic year. I've found them very convenient for posting assignments/readings, assignment guidelines, reminders, etc. The first entry in each blog is always the syllabus, which can also be downloaded and printed off. So students always have all of the necessary information for the course in one convenient location. I also use the course blog to link to online materials that I've scanned in. The first link (an upper-division undergrad course in Contemporary American Poetry) has the students' individual course blogs blogrolled for easy access, and the second link (a graduate course in Multicultural Literature) has graduate students posting informal weekly responses to the reading assignments directly to the main course blog as a seminar conversation starter (mixed results here--I'd probably have them do individual blogs if I were to do this again for the same course). I'm definitely not any sort of expert on this, but I've found the blogs to be a useful tool for me, and if you'd like to backchannel me I'd be happy to discuss my (limited) experience in more detail.

http://english469spring2005.blogspot.com

http://english801fall2004.blogspot.com

 
At 4:17 AM, Anonymous Sharon said...

I haven't done it (am thinking about it for the future), but I know a few bloggers who have...

http://www.unbsj.ca/arts/english/jones/mt/
(links to her own course blogs, and also a recent post with a good discussion: http://www.unbsj.ca/arts/english/jones/mt/archives/2005/08/blogging_in_the.html)

http://weblogs.elearning.ubc.ca/teachingtool/

 
At 4:19 AM, Anonymous Sharon said...

Forgot to format those links...

scribblingwoman;
blogging in the classroom

Weblogs as teaching tools

 
At 8:08 AM, Blogger Camicao said...

Thanks so much! I'm going to get busy and study these blogs!

 
At 9:33 AM, Blogger Bewildered Academic said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger Bewildered Academic said...

Hi Professor Camicao. I tried using blogs to help teach my undergraduate Intro to International Relations class for the past two semesters. Since I had two sections each semester, I set up one blog for each side. I haven't come up with an efficient way of using them, though. At first I thought that they would be used as discussion boards but it turned out that people found it too much of a hassle to log on and contribute (*rolls eyes*). Then I had people write response papers and post them, but again, few people read everyone else's postings because they were deluged with new postings every week. Toward the end of the semester when everyone was preparing for finals, they told me that they found the blogs to be useful for review, but since some of the entries were flat-out wrong in terms of their content, I felt a little skeptical.

I like the way that artichoke heart uses her blog, sort of as a one-way announcement board. I did something similar but with an e-mailing list. Aside from the benefit of having the whole web see the material and having students comment on it, I didn't see a reason to have people log on to a blog when they could just check their e-mail like they do anyway.

For this coming semester, I've decided to try dispensing with the blogs and using a regular old e-mailing list instead. If people have questions, they can e-mail them to the list and we can have an online discussion. It also helps get rid of the technology fear factor associated with establishing a Blogger account. I will keep assigning response papers but will have them e-mailed to me instead of posted to the blog. My new gimmick this semester is podcasting--using MP3 files that can be downloaded with a software like iTunes in the same way that we subscribe to blogs with an XML aggregator like Atom or RSS. I intend to do a weekly 10-minute summary of the main points covered that week plus a brief discussion of how some of the concepts might apply to that week's news. Then I can upload the MP3 file to a server and students with the free software iTunes can download and listen to it on their computer or on their iPod or other MP3 player. It might also open up doorways to helping teach the visually impaired, not that I've dealt with such cases in the past. Still, it may be worth some experimentation.

I can send you the links to my blogs if you e-mail me at bewilderedacademic@gmail.com.

 
At 7:34 AM, Blogger academic coach said...

Awesome gathering of resources.

Thanks to all commenters.

(btw, C., badger update is posted.)

 
At 10:02 AM, Blogger Kait said...

You may want to try 21publish.com, where each student can set up a blog and you can link to them from a main portal page.

 
At 9:10 AM, Blogger Richard said...

Hi Camicao,

Sorry for the delay in responding to this. I use blogs in all of my classes, and the most important thing to remember is that it's not WHETHER you have a blog or not, it's WHAT you do with it.

In my composition courses, I keep a main course blog to which I post relevant (I hope) and interesting things to expand upon in-class discussion topics. My students are encouraged to comment on this blog.

I also require my students to keep their own blogs, which must be updated with new posts at least weekly. I give my students a mix of open topics and course-directed prompts to get them used to writing for an audience, and to get them thinking about the course topics in writing.

This semester will be my first teaching a graduate seminar. I'm going to create a course blog for it that will allow the grads to write top-level posts. They'll then post their responses to the seminar readings and respond to their classmates' posts. These will be interspersed with my thoughts on the course and its materials, and my responses to their posts.

What I'm trying to do here is to expand the seminar discussion experience outside of the classroom by creating an online space in which students can raise thoughtful issues and reply to each other at any time. We'll see how it works.

Long story short (too late, I know): what kinds of writing/reading/commenting to do you want your students to do outside of class? Once you know that, you can decide whether blogging is the right method to reach that goal.

Good luck!

 
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