Blogging to Enhance Learning Experiences: February 12-25, 2007

The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
Number of replies: 85
Hello from Sydney Australia where it is mid-summer, where we have had drought conditions for years and have just recovered from a huge Bush fire AND have had the first decent rain in a decade.
My name is Michael (Griffith) and I teach literature at Australian Catholic University (ACU) and have been delighting in using new technologies to enhance my teaching since the end of 2004. If you click on my name in the seminar description you will find a short biography with a few other relevant links. If you click on my Blog address you will get a first hand sense of how I am awakening my students to their first semester of teaching which starts in a fortnight- you will also get a few shots of what the country is like around my place: go to http://michaelgriffith.livejournal.com.

As in previous discussions I think that it would be an excellent idea for all participants to initially share a little about their background and interests and what they hope to get out of this seminar – so please feel free to begin your contribution by doing just that and maybe raising a question or two and perhaps responding to something you might pick up from this short introduction.
While I am keen to share with you all of my experiences in this field and to get feedback on what I am doing, I am equally interested in questions that you might initiate- so please feel free to start your own threads within this conversation; I am sure it is going to be a fabulous experience for us all.

Might I begin by saying just briefly how all this started for me. Back in late 2004, when our University had just purchased a license for WebCT, I was very excited about the way my face to face classes could now be enhanced by on-line discussions (expanding the limited face-to-face tutorial time) and by a place where text, visual and sound resources could be stored as a supplement to lectures. But what I was really missing and could not find in WebCT at the time was a place where my students could keep a journal of their responses to literature and share these responses with others. Enter Blogging, about which I knew very little to begin with –except I had heard extraordinary reviews about the fresh, immediate, subversive insights that this medium had empowered in the Blogger of Baghdad, giving us first-hand impressions of experiences that would never reach the censored press from either East or West.
So I had in mind a space where students could be themselves, could learn to enjoy writing freely about their reading in the context of their own experience. I also hoped that they could connect with each other both inside and between courses I was running and might even begin spontaneous communities of interest relating to the subject matter. It was a place where I hoped THEIR truth could appear- less strictly under my surveillance/ tutelage, more directly in response to the community of their peers and maybe even less constrained by formal academic language but more in touch with their own vivid and vital language and imagery.
I was thrilled to discover, after this, that gurus in the field like David Weinberger (The Cluetrain Manifesto and Small Pieces Loosely Joined, http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/) saw blogging as a tool of a true democracy in which the hierarchies of the media and politics could find a vital antidote. And within my world of an imposed monolithic WebCT I found the insertion of a blogging tool as a nice way of keeping a human dimension well and truly alive; it has proved to be just this.
I chose LiveJournal initially largely because of its name (a Journal that was ALIVE) but after some experience with it I felt it was indeed an excellent tool for what I was looking for. It had not yet got all the hype of MySpace and it allowed for a number of interesting ways to set up students both as individuals and as communities.

What in fact has emerged over the last – more than two years- has been quite extraordinary and I hope to share some examples with you during the next two week….

So that is probably enough from me to begin with; please let us begin our conversation….

:-D
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Barbara Dieu -

Hello Michael,

Thank you for the warm welcome and looking forward to the exchange and the sharing of blogging experiences here.

I'm Barbara (Bee) Dieu, EFL teacher and Coordinator of the Foreign Language Dept at the Franco-Brazilian school in São Paulo, Brazil. I have been involved in international collaborative projects online since 1997 and discovered blogging end of 2002, while trying to find another webpublishing platform to host my students' newspaper online, as Highwired, the one I had been using since 1998 was closed down.

I have been blogging with my high school classes since then and have gone through various phases - from more open, to more structured and finally to more open and experiential lately combining the latest social tools like Flickr, deli.icio.us and the 43 trio. I started with Blogger but have moved to Wordpress, which is a more powerful publishing platform, allowing for static and dynamic pages.

I also co-run dekita.org, a collaborative project which aims at bringing learners together through open webpublishing and highlighting good practice.

In reply to Barbara Dieu

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
Barbara Dieu has presented a fascinating example of how a "more open and experiential" form of blogging allows her to visually and verbally summarize and engage her students with aspects of the experience they have had together (http://lycee.wordpress.com/). I liked to hear also the way Barbara's understanding of the nature of blogging grew "from more open, to more structured..."

Questions:
I am keen to know what she - or anyone- means by more structured, what her requirements were then and why she shifted from there?
I am keen also to know how she gets students to make use of Flickr, delicious and the 43 trio?
I am also interested in what she means by "static and dynamic pages" in Wordpress? Probably too many questions - but these are aspects that others may wish to comment on?

Some of my related experiences:
I too have been learning by experience with my students about what works and what changes need to be made. Timb Hoswell ( a second year student of mine who has recently opened a thread in this discussion) is an example of someone who stretches the technology to its limits, making LiveJournal a space which allows his creativity to flourish in - for example- many video poems http://dr-mindbender82.livejournal.com/2006/10/09/. He has built up quite a portfolio of such works within LiveJournal. But some other students find this quite technically challenging and even feel intimidated by someone who has clearly found a powerful creative tool in blogging. So I have had, this coming to semester, to create guidelines that don't undermine the creative users, don't discourage the less experienced, allow freedom without demanding the impossible... it has been a juggling act to get the requirements right and each semester I am learning what works... what doesn't. If you are interested in where I have reached in this please have a glance at the attached document which sets out my guidelines for LiveJournal assessment for this coming semester in my second year courses.
Thank you Barbara for all the links and for opening up the question of what kind of demands we should make on our users in Education (and by the way.... I did not mean to narrow this thread to "Higher Education"... my apologies(:-I :-I ).. that was a slip... ALL educational uses are of course very relevant here.
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Barbara Dieu -
I am sorry, Michael for having invaded this thread with my K12 links but I had not even noticed that this was about Higher Education - I got your mail in my inbox this morning and reacted to your invitation to introduce ourselves and say something about our practice.

Even though I know that the links I provided to my students' EFL posts do not match the depth, creativity and reflection of university level students posting in their native language, I think that educators and learners at all levels undergo very much the same learning process you have described (the juggling act), regardless the tools they are using. While some will find their motivation and fullfilment in blogs and writing, others will function better in wikis, making movies or painting, while many would rather not get involved with any of it.

What I love about all this is that the introduction of these new technologies has brought together experts, tutors and learners from all areas and exposed old-established practices which have reduced learning to an inert static fossilized object instead of the organic, flexible, challenging and stimulating ecology it should be.

For me each tool has its nature and its function which in turn determine its use. In the same way you do not eat soup with a knife, a blog should not be used to post homework or directives to students. This is what I meant when I went from more open to more structured and back to more open and experiential again. These social tools, in permanent beta, foster experimentation, discovery and learning from other sources than the teacher.

I started with blogs in the class to encourage conversation and self-expression and somehow slipped some months later into total top-down control mode mindset, barking orders on a tool which is basically designed for free expression and interaction. I should have used a closed environment, an LMS like Blackboard to do this instead :-)

More to follow.




In reply to Barbara Dieu

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
Barbara has beautifully described these new technologies in terms of their distinctive functions... love the image of not eating soup with a knife! Somewhere else in this distinction I was trying to generate a similar question about the different functionality of a wiki compared to a blog... hope that thread gets off the ground.

I love also Barbara's implication that there is something revivifying, transformative in the new technologies (turing inert static fossilized objects into an organic ecology...) - yes we do have to somehow free ourselves from the prejudices against computing technologies that those of us in the humanities still harbour at subterranean levels. We need to see the value of the animation that the technologies can provide... liberating the vocal chords.... I come back again to Jennifer Sullivan's observations in her thread "Blogging From a Student's Perspective" .... which certainly confirms my own sense of what can happen in the classroom...
Michael
In reply to Barbara Dieu

This is Gladys, eager to learn and share

by Gladys Baya -
smileHi Everyone!
My name's Gladys Baya. I'm an EFL teacher, teacher trainer and online facilitator from (and in) Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have a little experience blogging, having kept three blogs for personal (professional purposes) and a couple  of class blogs  for educational purposes with teen and adult EFL students and teacher trainees.
I'm a little intimidated for I've already noticed some of you know REEEEALLY a lot, and I won't be able to devote that much time to this seminar as to explore all the links mentioned, but I hope I can still learn by lurking and perhaps share some of my experience with you too.

Last week I attended an online presentation by Bee, so seeing her around somehow encouraged me to "speak up" wink

Thanks to Michael Griffith and everyone else for opportunities like this one!
 This is my first time at SCOPE, but I hope it won't be the last!

Gladys
In reply to Gladys Baya

Re: This is Gladys, eager to learn and share

by Michael Griffith -
Welcome Gladys - very good to have you with us.... we are at least on the same side of the globe giving some balance to the top-heavy north!

I/we would love to hear how you actually used those blogs.... none of us know really a lot!.... we can just spin words... but experience, the kind you are speaking about is vital to our conversation... so please tell us a little more about what you did and how it worked and maybe show us an example or two....

thank you for joining us
Cheers
Michael :-D :-D
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Nancy Riffer -
Hi,
I'm Nancy Riffer and I live in upstate New York, about 20 miles south of the areas that have gotten over 100 inches of snow in the past week--sometimes 4-6" an hour!  (We've had a mere 14" in Syracuse.)

I taught Psychology in colleges for a number of years.  More recently, I co-taught a graduate course in education online using WebCT.  I have not used blogs for teaching but have kept a private blog for my own learning for several years.

I am very interested in learning how blogs can be used to teach adults because I will be launching a blog to bring together people who are exploring creativity in their everyday lives.  I want to make this a collaborative endeavor.

One blog I really enjoy reading that clearly involves its "audience" is Kathy Sierra's Creating Compassionate Users.  In this post she invites her readers to chime in with whatever they wish, on or off the topic, and gets a wide range of interesting responses.

I'm interested in reading more examples of the use of blogs in higher education and in hearing more of the way it feels for the students to participate in using blogs.  I look forward to reading and sharing.

In reply to Nancy Riffer

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Nancy... love to have your snow for a few days! The humidity in Sydney in February and March makes sleeping a little difficult... blogging is comparatively easy!....

I have used WebCT but found it in some areas restrictive, so that is why I incorporated LiveJournal into the WebCT shell. Creating communities and stimulating creativity was and is an on-going labour of love I must say... one needs to be there in the back-ground. I, for example, run competitions to stimulate the creative juices. Here are some of last year's results. Worth a look:
http://michaelgriffith.livejournal.com/52475.html

Kathy Sierra's blog is terrific and in some ways much harder to sustain than a blog supported by a class full of students... she clearly uses a variety of different devices to keep her audience interested and keen to return....

I would love to hear your summary of what tricks she uses that make her blog so effective for you? Would it be possible to list some of these?

Thank you Nancy

Cheers
Michael G :-)
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Another 'hello' from Sydney

by margot mcneill -

Hi all,

Just a quick post to introduce myself - Margot McNeill from Macquarie University, Sydney. My role here is in our Centre of Professional Development as 'Lecturer, Academic Development, e-Learning'. I work with the academic staff members on ways of integrating learning technologies into their teaching. My work is across many technologies, (I am currently managing a 'Carrick' funded project investigating 'The Impact of Web-Based Lecture Technologies on Teaching and Learning') however I have a particular interest in the Web 2.0 technologies.  

It seems to me that the failure of assessment technologies to impact on mainstream practice may be overcome by the emerging technologies. I'm currently undertaking my PHD with a focus on the effectiveness of Web 2.0 tools for 'higher order' assessment.  I'm keen to hear of any experiences people may have on using blogs or any Web 2.0 tools for assessment purposes - by assessment, I mean in its broadest sense, assessment for learning whether it be summative or not.

Sorry for being a bit late with my intro,

Margot

 

 

In reply to margot mcneill

Hello from near Cambridge, MA

by Sarah Haavind -
Hi everyone,
It's nice to encounter familiar voices (hi Nancy!) and meet some new ones. I've hailed from Concord Consortium for many years, but have recently moved to Lesley University, where I am teaching online in a program that has been close to my heart since its inception, the Science in Education TERC/Lesley partnership master's program.

Ricky Carter is a colleague of mine now at Lesley, and I'm glad to see he's jumped in here. We were also colleagues a decade ago at BBN, in the early days of the Internet. Thank you for making Ricky and others who may drop in from Lesley feel welcome. We have a core group working on enhancing our educational offerings with online opportunities and I have been talking up Scope as a place to meet others who are also engaged in thinking about how to orchestrate quality learning experiences online.

I've been following a number of the links people have shared already today and the windows into ways that blogs are being creatively used in k-12 is eye-opening and very exciting! How does it feel to be a first grader from Saskatchewan, Canada who can see that people from around the globe have visited his or her class blog??!! My kids got right in there to help build their wiki of 1,000 visitors. (thanks, Heather!) So much fun.
Sarah
In reply to Sarah Haavind

Re: Hello from near Cambridge, MA

by Michael Griffith -
Great to have you on board Sarah..... we have as much to learn from the use of blogs in the primary classroom as we do from students at the "sophisticated" university level!... in fact primary schoolers will, increasingly be teaching those at the top just exactly how to run these new technologies.....

I look forward to hearing more about your blogging experiences Sarah
Cheers
Michael
:-)
In reply to Sarah Haavind

Re: Hello from near Cambridge, MA

by Derek Chirnside -
Well Sarah, I visited Lesley College in a University crawl from Madison to Boston in 2004.  I was interested in online teacher ed, and also Teachers Colleges that had become general Colleges.  Some nice people.
Concord's Loss . . .  I'm sure you will enjoy it. - Derek
In reply to margot mcneill

Re: Another 'hello' from Sydney

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Margot- welcome fellow Sydney-sider. Can I say that I have only been able to get blogs to work in my courses by making them part of the assessment. This has been the coal driving the boiler, but students in general have been very happy with the process. You might get a taste of this from some of the student responses already in this discussion. For your interest I attach my latest version of assessment criteria for the LiveJournal blogging component of my courses which now adds up to 25% of the total. See attached document.
Does that meet your interest?

I am interested in your (and others) mention of Web 2 tools: could you give a brief description and possibly some examples of how these work and how they differ from Blogs and Wikis?

Thank you Margot.
That would be a great contribution to this broadening discussion.

Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Web 2.0

by margot mcneill -

Thanks for the marking criteria, Michael. It certainly does align with my interest.

I've been investigating assessment technologies in general for several years and have found that the only ones with even limited uptake by mainstream academics (other than early adopters) are the ubiquitous multiple choice quizzes. Here's a link to a recent paper by Byrnes and Ellis with scary findings (http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet22/byrnes.html)

 

I find the Web 2.0 movement fascinating - the personal broadcasting capability which obviously includes blogs and wikis but also so much more. This Youtude video on Web 2.0 ( 

 ) was on Leigh Blackall's 'Learnonline' blog a couple of weeks ago - the video is a great synopsis of the power of Web 2.0 and the blog  is a constant source of inspiration/ information. 

I've enjoyed the discussion so far, so 'keep up the good work'.

Margot

 

In reply to margot mcneill

Re: Web 2.0

by Michael Griffith -
Thanks Margot... I have just raised the question with Juanita about the fuzziness surrounding the term Web 2.... . Tim O'Reilly saying back in 2005:;
"there's still a huge amount of disagreement about just what Web 2.0 means, with some people decrying it as a meaningless marketing buzzword, and others accepting it as the new conventional wisdom."
Are we any clearer as to what it all means now nearly 2 years later???

I think you have put your finger on some of the key elements thought in your references to Youtube etc.....

The paper you noted on on-line assessment (http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet22/byrnes.html) is very interesting and shows how far we still have to go.

I think this could almost become another discussion strand- although it may be slightly off topic. But I certainly use Blogging as a component of on-line assessment and do so because it provides a rich alternative way to experiencing what individual students have to offer, balancing more conventional ways of assessment.

Incidentally I also use "on-line" for all my essay submissions now. I much prefer marking a digital document with comment functions at my finger tips.... For the first time in my 35 year teaching carreer my students can clearly read the comments I make on their essay work.

Thank you for opening this one up Margot.
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Online submission

by Tamara Gardner -
As a student I would prefer it if I was able to submit all of my assessments online.

Not only would students actually be able to read the comments that they are given (yes most people's "marking writing" is appalling, and I usually walked away squinting at my papers not being able to make out most of the words, and so not really taking away anything but the mark.)

It also means that there is no line up at the uni library printer, no major issues when the ink at home really does run out, or if there really is some sort of accident (or unexpected traffic) making you late to hand in the paper.

The only issue that I have had with online submission was when my internet refused to work, none of my friends were answering their phones, and there was a line up at the local library to use the computers.


Afterthought: Some lectures have had students submit work into discussion threads, and for a few students, although the work has been in the the thread the lectures have not been able to find it. I would not reccomend that others use this method of submission.

Tamara
Second Year ACU Student
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Another 'hello' from Sydney

by Derek Chirnside -
Margo and Michael, a digression.  For years I have sometimes heard the phrase Sydney-sider.  Does this mean there are Melbourne-unders, and Canberra-middlers, or is it just the onematopia? or is there something else. ?
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Another 'hello' from Sydney

by Michael Griffith -
Definately just alliteration Derek... Melbourne and Sydney have a classic big city rivalry and they would hate to be thought of as Under anything!.... But I don't want to start a cataclysm here.....
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Another 'hello' from Sydney

by Tamara Gardner -
yes Melbourne-ites would chuck a tantrum if they knew they were being called sydney-unders!
In reply to margot mcneill

Re: Another 'hello' from Sydney

by Michael Griffith -
Margot has opened up a whole new area for us and that is the wider use of Web-based Technologies on Teaching and Learning.... of which of course Blogging is only one of many such technologies.

As will be evident from my own introduction -and in answer to Margot's question- I use Blogging AS a component of assessment because it provides an avenue for students to do a kind of writing (critical and creative), networking and resource collection that is not so easily available within the monolithic LMS such as Bb/WebCT.

You will be interested to know Margot (and you probably do know) that a colleague of mine at ACU is also doing a PhD in this field at Macquarie and his topic - believe it or not- is focussed on the ways in which LiveJournal blogging have supported, amplified, extended, renewed..... my own literature teaching. Bill Poole is his name and I am sure he will be looking into this seminar (if he hasn't already: this room is getting so vast it is hard to tell immediately just who is in it!).

It might be worth telling you also that we just "won" a Carrick Award which included Blogging as a component. This was an award for "Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning" (See http://www.carrickinstitute.edu.au/carrick/go/home/awards/pid/133). It had to do with the work we have been doing to provide humanities courses for the homeless and disadvantaged in Sydney. Within two of these courses students had to complete a LiveJournal Blog as part of their course requirements.
The purpose of this was twofold. Firstly it gave them a space where they could develop confidence in their own less formal writing skills. Secondly it gave them an immediate connection with on-campus students at Australian Catholic University. They were of course welcomed and a few of them have in fact established friendships with groups on campus. One of the students (Anissa) is joining the university this year (after having completed the 4 necessary pre-university Clemente courses) and she already has a group of friends to turn to.... thus the incredible, humanizing power of that unfortunately named tool "Blog"!.... The ABC actually did a program on this course and you can see the results - and even find the link to Anissa's LiveJournal- if you go to (downloadable program and movie!): http://www.abc.net.au/rn/streetstories/stories/2007/1831012.htm

So I am sorry for having taken that opportunity for getting on my rostrum, but I think some will be interested and find it relevant to the whole question of the potential of Blogging.

But coming back to your contribution Margot, I would love to know some more about the tools you are looking at for higher order assessment.... could you expand a little for those of us who are not operating quite at that level yet?

Your overal research project looks fascinating and very much at the cutting edge of what we are all keen to know about!!

Many thanks for your contribution Margot.
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Another 'hello' from Sydney

by margot mcneill -

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the link to the Carrick site with your citation info. I have seen a presentation by Bill Poole on your project and it does indeed look fascinating.

My research is still in its early stages (PHD, as you might have guessed). I suspect that amongst the many reasons for the slow uptake of assessment technologies is the perspective among academics that it is limited to the ubiquitous MCQs or that it will involve much more effort than whatever system they currently use - I suspect this is the case with many of the fabulous tools we have heard about in this forum - mainly the 'innovators and early adopters' (Rogers, 1995) will be the ones who use them.

To be scalable and sustainable and taken up by mainstream academics, assessment tools will have to have 'relative advantages' (Rogers again) including saving time but also allowing for assessment of higher levels of activity on taxonomies such as Biggs' SOLO. The challenge is combining these - I'm interested in exploring models which will offer 'better' quality leaning for students and scaffold them as they learn different ways of thinking and analysis, while streamlining processes for markers. Some of the aspects I'm investigating include using wikis for collaborative work between students but as you know the possibilities for personal broadcasting can include even a very rudimentary online portfolio in the form of a blog - the processes to encourage reflection can still be applied.

FYI, if you are interested in assessment more generally, MQ has a Carrick Leadership project called 'Leadership and Assessment; Strengthening the Nexus. http://www.carrickinstitute.edu.au/carrick/go/home/grants/pid/97

We also have a Carrick project on 'The impact of Web-based lecture technologies on current and future practices in learning and teaching' - info about it is also available on the site above.

Cheers,

Margot

 

In reply to margot mcneill

Re: Another 'hello' from Sydney

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Margot... thank you for your response... I am running into beurocratic opposition as we speak. New assessment guidelines have forced by HOS to try to put my creative practices into a rather tight box.... because of things like privacy issues, word length parity etc etc.... I am hoping that I can achieve a wording that satisfies the upper echelons while leaving me to carry on as usual... but it is quite a challenge. I am sure the process I am facing would be a fascinating test case for yourself... Old models for new technologies....
Cheers
Michael
In reply to margot mcneill

Re: Another 'hello' from Sydney

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Margot... you (or anyone) may be interested in this rewrite of my assessment criteria for LiveJournal Blogging in my Literature classes this semester. This rewrite has arisen largely in response to what I have learnt from all of you during this seminar, but also as a result of new University guidelines which have been emphasising the importance of privacy for students: so please, if you are interested, have a look, comment, and feel free to use what might be useful in your own context.... and in case I don't get a chance again.... the weekend is just dawning here as I wirite this.... thank you all for being such a great crowd... there have been some wonderful insights and I feel that I know so many of you -as if we had been to the pub together!
And thank you especially to those students of mine who showed up to share their insights and experience: Jen I have included your comment as a great example at the end of the "How to Get Started With LiveJournal" Document.
So please note: the first document (I have pasted them together in the one document) is the rubric that I put into my Course Description, the second document are the more extensive notes that cover information about best practice and warnings etc.... but I can see now that a paragraph dealing with accessibility issues also needs to go in.... anyone care to write this paragraph for me????

Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Another 'hello' from Sydney

by parker owens -

The most important thing is to give options other than LiveJournal. Maybe list some accessible blog hosts and aggregators. It would also be wise to mention restriction or potential for video and podcasting. It is my understanding that deaf individuals sometimes prefer doing videocasts with ASL (american sign language) rather than blogs in English, so you need to decide if other forms of blogging are allowed. I have heard ITunes is completely inaccessible. You might consider a "Tips and Tricks" manual for disabled students, letting them know workarounds.

As far as the key things needed in a blog interface:

  • Properly structured entries using headings and lists
  • Captions on videos, scripts on podcasts, and alt-text for images
  • The ability to scale text size
  • No javascript, flash, or other screwy navigation or links
  • No captchas!

I've noticed on Blogspot/Blogger, you have the ability to switch to other templates. It would be swell if they offered an accessible template, and I'll probably suggest it to them. You could also modify one of the templates and make it accessible for use by your students. As far as the RSS feeds, you could easily make an accessible page by creating a simple page with html links to the feeds.

In reply to parker owens

Re: Another 'hello' from Sydney

by Michael Griffith -
Parker has added some excellent advice on how we might set up our technology to make it truly accessible. This will become a key reference page for those of having to deal with these issues - and that will be most of us at some time!
Thank you very much Parker.
Michael :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Rees -

Greeting from the Gold Coast, home to Bond University, the first private university in Australia. I am an Associate Professor in Computer Science in the School of IT and specialise in the technologies behind Web 2.0.

Like many others I have been interested in blogging as a reader for almost three years and have been reasonably active in my own blog called Impressions Scholarcast for a little over a year. This blog uses the open source Wordpress blogging engine that I run on a hosting service. I regard my blog as an essential journal used to record all minor professional activities as well as my discoveries and thoughts on new technology particularly in the Web 2.0 topic area. Although readers can comment on my blog entries I regard the information as primarily of use to me when documenting my activities and recalling events.

About 18 months ago I became convinced keeping a blog would be of benefit to all students to record their minor achievements, thoughts and dificulties as a part of an electronic portfolio of their studies and activities. Starting in September 2005 I offered some Masters students the opportunity to keep a blog as part of the practical assignment in an advanced information technology subject. An alternative traditional assignment was available for those not wishing to volunteer. Five students out of the class of 9 (we have very small classes in my institution) took up the offer. They all created public blogs. Today 2 of those students still blog regularly back in their countries of origin (Norway and India).

The results of my first experiment were sufficient to make me confident in insisting in May 2006 that all students in my two subjects should keep a blog worth 5% of the total marks. I give a summary of the relatively successful outcomes in a blog post where I show the instructions issued to the students for their blogging assessment. [Incidentally I allocate an additional 5% of the marks for sensible participation in the Blackboard online discussion forum I use for each of my subjects.]

I also blogged about a study on the use of blogs in an MBA subject which reports some interesting results.

In our September 2006 semester I again allocated 5% of the marks in all my subjects to blogging. This time I gave the students more direction about what should be appear in their blog posts: one post a week on a Web 2.0 web site, for example in the Web 2.0 subject, and one post on a topic of interest to them about their studies or recreation activities. This led to better outcomes and I am currently assembling a report on this latest blogging assessment. Our education technology people were very supportive and set up a Wordpress MU dedicated public blog server for the students' use. Sadly this server is no longer active so I am unable to point you to student blog examples. I have kept a record of each student blog for analysis purposes however.

To raise awareness in my information technology students I now regularly set a simple blogging engine as a practical assignment in my advanced website design and web applications subjects. To my surprise very few of my students already keep their own blogs prior to taking my subjects, but on reflection this may be due to the fact that IT students are not renowned for their written communication skills!

I am very interested to hear of others in this discussion who have used blogging for assessment.

In reply to Michael Rees

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Theda Thomas -

Hi There

I am Theda Thomas from the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne Campus.   I have never blogged before and am terrified about how this will look and whether I am doing things correctly..... 

I have recently been appointed First Year Coordinator for the university and I have noticed that blogging is used quite extensively in this field at some other universities.   I have seen blogs where first years are asked to reflect at the start, first week, week 3, week 6, etc about their first year experience.  Blogging is also used to allow first year students to communicate with fellow students and find answers to their questions.   I think this is an interesting and useful use of blogging that I would like to explore in the future.

Has anyone used blogging for something like this?  Do you have any advice?

Theda

 

In reply to Theda Thomas

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
Hello Theda... great to have someone else from ACU on-board....

From my own experience I can say that I have used blogging partly for what you are looking for. The fact that I have built it into the course as an assessable item and have insisted that students check out each other's work inevitably creates an opening for better communication amongst first years.

You might like to check out some of the ways in which my students have been using their blogs in first year (last year). Here are a few examples:
http://noelle-zeitouni.livejournal.com/
http://tamaragardner.livejournal.com
http://rhanihf.livejournal.com
http://ccassar.livejournal.com/

Scroll back into their entries during term time last year to get a taste of their Blogging activities....

Hope that helps

Cheers
Michael Griffith
^-)
In reply to Theda Thomas

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Tamara Gardner -
Speaking as a first year-cum-second year student and with my small amount of experience using new technologies as a learning tool, I would say that for your first years, blogs are a great tool for "getting things off their chest" and also for building connections with other students. (However, as Michael has said marks are the main motivator to get students started in using them).

When it comes to questions however, I believe that a discussion thread would be more appropriate.

I have used these in both English and Education and have found that when questions are posted in the discussion that there are more students who are seeing them and also more inclined to answer the questions.

You may even want to open a discussion thread so that students from others years may answer first year questions...?

Tamara
Second Year ACU Student
In reply to Tamara Gardner

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
Tamara has very clearly expressed a core distinction between a discussion thread and a blog. Undoubtedly a discussion thread is immediately more focussed, more sharply concerned with tackling a particular issue (like this current seminar)....

The only problem with your last suggestion -and maybe someone in the group has a work around- is that within Bb/WebCT- courses are all in water-tight compartments so that a discussion thread being carried out in -say- Second year, can't be seen by first year... and so on....
And that is of course one of the great attractions of incorporating an external blogging provider INTO WebCT... because through this all students -across all courses and all years- can finally be in touch with each other......
Hope that makes sense

Thanks Tamara
Michael G
In reply to Tamara Gardner

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Tamara Gardner -
Getting lost in all the threads and posts, but hopefully this will be okay here...

Michael said that WebCT cannot support a forum over the different courses... But Michael I was thinking and need your help here cause I dont know how WebCT really works...

There is a chat feature, in the WebCT main screen. Through this I was able to have a conversation to a person in another course from another state. Could this somehow be manipulated as a student support featue for first year students?

Also in the main screen is Student Learning tools, which is an orientation to WebCT. Are all students that use WebCT "enrolled" into learning tools? Through a feature such as this would you be able to make a "University notice board" that spread across all the grades and all of the courses?

I may be completely off here, and if I am then maybe this is something that the people using these tools can approach the makers of WebCT about. But something such as this may be more effective as a tool for communication across the University then something such as the news letter that gets emailed out...?

What do people think of this one?

Tamara
Second Year ACU Student
In reply to Tamara Gardner

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
Tamara is making some fascinating suggestions here for how WebCT can/could be "tweaked" to create more cross-disciplinary activity.... is Wai-Leng listening to this??? could be very useful... we will have to explore this Chat feature: I think your idea of a support post for first year students (potentially being helped by second and third year students) is a brilliant idea.... we will have to experiment to see if it works.
And the idea of using something as Learning Tools as a University Notice Board sounds really interesting too.....
Well done Tamara... your creative mind is working overtime!
Cheers
Michael

Does anyone else have thoughts on these issues?
In reply to Michael Rees

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
Greetings Michael!
Michael has offered a fascinating glimpse of a sophisticated evolution and use of Blogging in his teaching. I liked especially the way you described the space initially as a personal area for you to keep notes: discoveries and thoughts on new technology. That gives a clear sense of one powerful use.
I can see then how you wanted to extend this experience to your students. So for you the tool works chiefly as a kind of repository of insights, information and professional resources. This is excellent.
It is in some ways quite a different use to the one I have adopted although I try - unsuccesfully -to suggest to students that they could use the blogging tool BOTH as a a place where they can store their notes and information AND a place where they can connect with other students and develop their creativity.....
So your description has helped me to see more clearly how Blogging can be used for one thing or the other, but perhaps not both simultaneously.....

But as you can see I allocate many more marks to Blogging than you do... maybe my expectations of how this work expands the core of their creative, literary experience justifies this mark. What do you think?

I would love to hear your comments on my assessment criteria based on your own experience (in attached document)
Thank you Michael
Cheers
Michael G
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Rees -

Michael,

I am impressed that you allocate 25% of your marks for the use of LiveJournal. Your instructions to students are really detailed and are a great example to other teachers on laying the ground work. For others reading this I enclose my assessment sheet from May 2006, although I have an updated version for September 2006 which I will post shortly.

You obviously expect students to use LiveJournal to comment on the other major units of their course assessment. I use the online forum component of my assessment for that. The forum environment is where comments from other students mainly appear. I do see some of my students commenting on other people's blog entries but not a lot.

I was certainly surprised at how creative some of my students were with their blog entries. They also included a fair bit of media such as images and links to videos. I will certainly use some of your ideas on encouraging more creativity in the future.

I would love others to comment on their own experiences here.

Cheers

Michael 

In reply to Michael Griffith

Hello from Carla

by carla arena -

Hi, Michael and all!

I'm Carla Arena, a Brazilian EFL teacher living in Key West for two years (just got here!). Great to see some people that have inspired me to start blogging a while ago, like Bee (Barbara) Dieu, and Gladys, a fantastic person with whom I'm having the pleasure to moderate an online session on Blogging for educators who want to start blogging in the language classroom (http://bloggingforbeginners.pbwiki.com ).

Although I teach in a Binational Center, I'm sure that there's much I can learn from this group. I'm just a curious explorer of the wonders of online tools to enhance motivation and learning. In this sense, I've fallen in love with the possibilities of free expression and reflection that blogs give to my students. Besides, it is a means of using English in a dialogue-based platform in which the communication goes beyond the walls of the classroom. I've been involved in some international projects with my students and can say the results are really powerful!

It's a pleasure to be here with you and I hope to learn a lot from this knowledgeable group!

Carla Arena

In reply to carla arena

Re: Hello from Carla

by Michael Griffith -
Carla has contributed a very useful link for those starting out with blogging in the classroom. Thank you!
And I am very much with you in your sense of how blogging supports a kind of "free expression" that is not normally associated with academic essays.
But I think it is important to have a range of different stylistic requirements demanded from the students. And Blogging is just one of these... but a vital, powerful and exciting one... certainly for our increasingly techno-savvy students.
Thanks Carla
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Larry Hull -
I've no interest. How do I get off this list?
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Juanita Foster-Jones -
I've been lurking in this forum, reading the vast amounts of postings with interest.

A bit about me:
I'm not a "blogger", but am part of the TU120 Beyond Google course team at the Open University, UK  where we are looking web 2 tools and how to teach information literacy skills to students who use them. We cover blogs in the course, as a source of information that our students are likely to come across and also give some basic guidance on how students can set up their own blog.

I'm a librarian, so for me I'm particularly interested in blogs as a source of information and how you evaluate that, and indeed with the vast amounts of bogs and postings out there how you find useful, creditable content.

Why don't I blog?
I think its the issues of public and private thoughts that get me. (A colleague would say this is my controlling librarian tendencies coming to the fore! smile). I'm happy to lurk - or should the term be "blurk" - and read stuff but I don't have anything burining that I want to say that I feel others should or would want to read.

Concerns:
I must say I feel concerned about how much people do put out there for others to read, with possibly little thought for the consequences. And here is where I think information literacy, or perhaps media literacy comes in, as I think if we equip students with the skills to evaluate information, they will become more information savvy and be aware that others will be evaluating them.
In reply to Juanita Foster-Jones

"Blurk!!"

by Derek Chirnside -
Juanita, what a marvellous word!!  This has made my day.
Everyone at least should blurk.  In my opinion.

The learning Circuits "Big Question for October"
was

Should All Learning Professionals Be Blogging?

There were a range of answers.

In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: "Blurk!!"

by Michael Griffith -
Derek has provided a fantastic resource here with his Learning Circuits- See http://learningcircuits.blogspot.com/2006/10/big-question-for-october-should-all_04.html- the question they are pursuing there is really at the core of what we are all discussing here.....

So Derek... can you.... in a nutshell..... provide a paragraph of your summary of what the answer to the Big question is (Should All Learning Professionals Be Blogging).... sorry to put you on the spot so to speak... but it would be a great contribution to get us all started into reading that amazing storehouse of ideas on the question.......

Cheers
Michael

In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: "Blurk!!"

by Derek Chirnside -
Hmm, the answers were too diverse.  It is also off the topic.  But, following are some snippets, 4 at random from people who express things in an interesting manner.  Caution: Guilt trip on snippet 4.
These answers are: No, Yes, No, Yes.
My vote (FWIW) is with 3.  I suggest: find the best blog in the world in your field.  Google ot use technorati.  Read it.  Then one day make a comment on it.  :-)  Your world will change overnight.  If you want it to happen sooner, go to wikipedia, seach on your town/suburb/family name/favourite hobby.  Read,  Ponder.  Add something.
Have a nice weekend guys, those who are 20 hours behind us.
-Derek

1. did your great-great-great-great grandfather write a novel?

did your grandmother produce a script for television show?

sounds silly, doesn’t it?  but there’s this notion going around today that all learning professionals should be blogging.  as well as all their learners.  wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone was blogging?  or podcasting?  or mashing up all kinds of content  to make online cookbooks that google maps where the ingredients were harvested and packaged, photos of the dishes from flickr and/or photobucket, in a wiki environment that tracks the variations on the recipes and lets all visitors vote on the variations of course with an rss/atom feed to your mobile phone.

yeah, right!

that all learning professionals should be blogging is about as likely that your ancestors all wrote a novel when the printing press was created or wrote a tv script when the telly was introduced. (snip)

2. Should All Learning Professionals be Blogging?

It was pretty much a given that most if not all of the responses to this question, posted on the Learning Circuits blog, would be "no". So this is probably why Tony Karrer sent me an email asking whether I would contribute.

My response, naturally, is "yes" - but this needs to be understood in a very specific way.

First, to turn to Rodolpho Arruda, who offers several good reasons why people should blog:
  • blogging can organize and promote someone’s research
  • you can get feedback from people
  • postings to reduce the “distance” between us
  • active students can intensify their learning spiral
  • it forces you to do your homework
The point, and I take it as such, is that blogging is an excellent research and learning tool for professionals, one significantly better than most alternatives (perhaps I'd skip blogging if I could have sat in on those evening meetings with Russell, Wittgenstein and Moore - but not for much else, and I'm probably want to write about it, as Anscombe eventually did).

But here the caveat mentioned above comes into play, and it is this: if (as Dave Lee suggests) other technologies can do the same job just as well, then we can let go of the idea that every professional should be blogging per se: "Web 2.0 has created all sorts of ways for people to share content and create new meaning alone and together. Blogs, wikis, lists, voting, rss feeds, timelines, photo sites, podcasts, vlogs, plogs, mashups, etc. let everyone find their own way of making meaning." (aside: I wish people would stop using the phrase 'making meaning' - meaning isn't something that is made, it is something that semantical entities (which are made) have.) (snip)

3. Should All Learning Professionals be Blogging?

My answer:  NO!  However, I believe all learning professionals should be participating in some way.  Maybe you are more comfortable contributing to a wiki.  Or perhaps you enjoy collaborating inworld via SecondLife.  Maybe you like flickr and post pictures from your classroom, or a conference you attended. 
There are so many ways to be a part of the conversation and engage in this community of practice.  While blogging may not be your thing, you should consider the many, many alternative options.
If for no other reason than your job is changing, and you might want to be engaged in the process of what your new job will include.

4. Should all (etc etc)

Okay, so to me this is a timely question, but I want to avoid the "Should all do it?" question. "All" won’t happen anytime soon. Instead, but let me make a case for why YOU should.

Blogs are a Great Personal Learning Tool

As learning professionals, we should all be at the forefront of knowing how to learn ourselves. Writing is probably the single best way to codify personal knowledge. A blog is a fantastic way to do this and at the same time do it in a way that allows you to explore topics with others.

And as you gain experience with blogs, you can start to gain experience with other Personal Learning Tools.

Blogs are a Great New Community Mechanism

Take a look at Nancy White’s great paper - Blogs and Community – launching a new paradigm for online community?

What Nancy calls a topic centric community points out that as posts occur and other people comment on those posts or put up posts on their own blog, a discussion forms. Sure, it's messier than a discussion in a forum, but it allows communities to form in a more organic way (based on common interests). It also allows more of the person to come through. Personally, I’ve connected with several bloggers and have got to know them through their blogs. Brent Schlenker - Corporate eLearning Development - I met through blogging and through that he's going to be on a panel with me at DevLearn. I don’t feel the same sense of connection from threaded discussions.

On this topic, it's worth looking at What's Better to Build Community: Blogs or Forums? What struck me was:

  • In general, blogs are great at connecting and bridging to a NEW community.
  • In general, forums are great at harnessing and growing an EXISTING community.

Put in a different way, blogs allow us to grow a community without going to a single location. A forum or mailing list is most effective if everyone agrees to go to that single location and abide by those norms. Blogs allow community to be formed based on common interests and the community grows and evolves in a very fluid manner.

So, let me end this section by saying that YOU SHOULD take up starts with greatly improving your personal learning and includes a nice benefit of blogging to join an interesting community.

Now Let’s Examine Why You Won’t Start Blogging
The 1% Rule says that in collaborative environments, e.g., discussion groups, for every 100 people who sign up, 89 will lurk, 10 will participate in a limited fashion, and 1 will regularly post content. This has been seen across a variety of collaborative environments. So, history tells us that we should expect relatively low participation levels with Blogs (maybe 1%). However, learning professionals are way below 1% levels.

So, what reasons do people give?

  1. Cost or No Blog Tools Available

    Whoops, it’s free from a lot of places. Try http://www.blogger.com/.

  2. Fear – Take a look at the post Fear of Blogging:

    I had to fight through ALL of these emotions when I started blogging. - Will I be accepted or rejected?- How much criticism will I get?- Will others discover
    that I am a phony and realize that I have absolutely no clue of what I am talking about?
    Note: Wendy got over her fear and does a great job raising interesting questions on her blog.

  3. Lack of Time

    How much time should you spend learning on your own each month about eLearning? Do you think you would be better served rearranging the time you spend to actually codify your learning?

  4. My Corporation Won’t Let Me

    Most corporations have no such restrictions. Of course, you shouldn’t come close to the line of divulging anything sensitive and should avoid calling your boss a jerk, but having a discussion around a topic like – "should we be blogging" – is a great thing to do.

My honest belief is that even if you don't post regularly on your blog, but do post around interesting challenges you are facing, you will find personal value in blogging. If you start, let bloggers know. Post a response to the LCB Big Question. Post a challenge you are facing. If you don't find value, then let me know - because I will be really surprised.

Come on in - the water's fine.

In reply to Juanita Foster-Jones

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
Welcome Juanita- great to have you lurking in the background! But what a fabulous course this is that you are involved in. I have just had a look at it and would love to sign up for it! (If I had the time!)... covers all the basics and more:
So you must have a broad critical perspective on the functions and uses of Blogging.... not a blogger but an informed observer of the whole scene as it unfolds.....

So your perspective is really interesting: the conservatism of the librarian, but the cutting exploratory edge of someone involved in TU 102....

So is the conversation so far helping you towards a change of heart and mind? How are we sounding as a group? Do you have any sense of the power of blogging as it is being utlized by this diverse group......

Love to hear your further views on all this as you stay in the conversation.....

Thank you Juanita


One more thing.... there have been many many references to "Web 2" and "Web 2 Tools"... but as Tim O'Reilly noted back in 2005 "there's still a huge amount of disagreement about just what Web 2.0 means, with some people decrying it as a meaningless marketing buzzword, and others accepting it as the new conventional wisdom."
http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html

In your view, Juanita, are we any nearer to having clarity on Web 2 tools are? or is it going to end up being a term like Post-Modernism???? What do you think??? What does TU120 think??????

Cheers again
Michael

In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Juanita Foster-Jones -
So is the conversation so far helping you towards a change of heart and mind? How are we sounding as a group? Do you have any sense of the power of blogging as it is being utlized by this diverse group......

Well, from working on Tu120 I've already gone a big transformation from seeing blogs as purely vanity publishing, into something that might be worthwhile. Yet there are times, even through looking at all these posts, I wonder "What makes a person blog?"

Are bloggers the Samuel Pepys and Chaucers of the 21st century? I've never been the type to keep a diary, I like to keep my personal life personal, so am I just not what bloggers are made of?

I must say I'm intrigued by all the different applications of blogs that are being illustrated here. A suggestion it would be nice to have a summary of examples of practice at the end of this event - I could refer Tu120 students to that then!


In reply to Juanita Foster-Jones

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
I think that is a great idea: examples of practice... and I think Sylvia is working towards something like that in her "Collecting" strand.
One of the best articles I have come across on this whole question was recommended in this discussion. It is at: http://reconstruction.eserver.org/064/boyd.shtml
For your interest I also attach a kind of summary article on my own blogging practice. Any comments would be welcome Juanita,
Cheers

Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Juanita Foster-Jones -
In your view, Juanita, are we any nearer to having clarity on Web 2 tools are? or is it going to end up being a term like Post-Modernism???? What do you think??? What does TU120 think??????

Well whether the term web2 will survive who knows (or cares). Perhaps what is more important is the ethos behind it. For me, its social, user based tools, and openness and these are the things we are illustrating on Tu120. So when someone says web2 I think of stuff like
  • Flickr
  • Social bookmarks (I'm using delicious but seriosuly consdiering a move to furl or blinklist. Like the notion of blink spaces for teaching and learning)
  • Blogs and wikis
  • Putting our library catologue on learners google home
I'm not a techie, so perhaps my view is rather simplistic.

In reply to Juanita Foster-Jones

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Terry Wassall -

Last year sometime O'Reilley claimed Web 2.0 as a trademark of some kind and tried to stop its use in conference titles and publication. I think they picked a fight with a college who had the term in a conference title. I lost track of this but it brought an enormous amount of negative reaction and publicity for O'Reilley.

Web 2.0 has often been referred to a 'the read/write' web. Many web 2.0 applications and services are also referred to a 'social software'. All things labelled with Web 2.0 seem to be web-based services that allow the creation of user content and social netwoking/collaboration. I suspect this will become such a ubiquitous feature of the web the term web 2.0 will simply cease to signify anything and fall into disuse.

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
Terry has provided a useful historical context for understanding the rise and fall of "Web 2" as a term.
Thank you Terry
Michael
In reply to Juanita Foster-Jones

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
Juanita might not be a techie- but she certainly has a lot of techie tools at her fingertips. We would all like to know more about these "implements".
Juanita could you
1) tells us why you are thinking of moving from "delicious" to "furl" or "blinklist" and what value your students might get out of these?
2) could you also tells us which Wikis you would recommend and how you see Wikis working for in teaching compared to the way Blogs work for you.... I think this is a particularly interesting question for many of us. You might even think of starting up a separate discussion line on Wikis versus Blogs...... would love to see what contributions we get there.....
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Which social bookmarking tool

by Juanita Foster-Jones -
1) tells us why you are thinking of moving from "delicious" to "furl" or "blinklist" and what value your students might get out of these?
How we're using them
For Tu120 I've created an activity where I ask students to choose a social bookmarking tool from the list and add some references to it, exploring its features. Students are then asked to post their evaluation to the discussion group, and based on everyone's comments vote on the favourite one.

I also looked at all tools, to see if they would be a good way of saving links from the course that students could go to and then add to their own social bookmarks. This made me rethink about them, and here are some comments from my evaluation

Blinklist
Some of the nice features this tool has are:
  • Blink space: create a space and you can get your social network to share tags, or pull in specific tags into that space. I think this could be used with students to have a class list of resources
  • Import and export in a variety of formats (more than delicious I think)
  • Help tips emails sent to you to encourage use
Furl
This is my favourite, partly because of the clean tabular display it offers. Other features
  • Export to xml, browser and bibliographic software (librarians rejoice!)
  • Shows read, unread items
  • Ability to sort by title, date entered, topic or rating
Value for students
It's an easy way to manage resources and links, and you can access them from anywhere. The ability to see who else has tagged a resource opens up networking possibilities, and encourages serendipity. It builds good practice in terms of organising resources through use of tagging, andif they can find resources they've used its easier to cite again. Features of caching pages also enable offline viewing when site is down.

I must say this is one Web 2 tool I'm really for, and increasingly avid user of them. Just got to find some time to pull al my bookmarks across into my favourite tool now, and tag them


In reply to Juanita Foster-Jones

Re: Which social bookmarking tool

by Emma Duke-Williams -
I've also been looking at those sort of tools. I've used iKeepbookmarks for some time now, and though I've exported them to Del.icio.us in the past (and, luckily, it's taken my folders as tags), I tend to stick to iKeepbookmarks - as I'm used to it & the features that it offers. However, though you can have shared accounts, it's not designed as a social tool.

I've therefore been looking at other things - I've been impressed with CiteUlike - which is very much set up for academic use & has lots of bibliographic features, works well with EndNote etc.

I've also been experimenting with Zotero - that's not a social tool at all, (nor, at the moment, does it work with Flock); however, it's a very useful bibliographic tool for students (it's a firefox plugin). It saves (and can save screenshots etc) information locally - which could be a good or a bad thing, depending on the way you work - and you can add information about books, films etc., (i.e. not just web-based materials).

To me, both for me, and for my students, I want to find a tool that both promotes good academic practice (i.e. correct referencing), and yet also allows sharing. I'm not sure I've found the ideal, as most of the web based tools I've seen concentrate on sharing bookmarks (allowing commenting, saving of bibligraphic information etc.) ,but don't make it that easy to add records for non-web material.
Things like Zotero, on the other hand, enable the easy addition of non-web based material, but it's not easy to share.
I suspect the best option is to use some from of web based tool (getting the group to agree *which* one is another matter!), and then to get them to find a computer based tool which will easily import/ export to/  from the web based service.

I got some quite interesting comments on my blog when I posed this particular question recently.
[ http://www.tech.port.ac.uk/staffweb/duke-wie/blog/2007/02/15/collating-references-etc/ ]

In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Which social bookmarking tool

by Michael Griffith -
Emma has introduced us to iKeepbookmars.... what a fantastic tool...

Thank you so much for sharing this Emma. I have a question. I have just created an account
http://www.ikeepbookmarks.com/browse.asp?account=166231

can my students simply access this account without login and add any useful URLs they may find??

Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Which social bookmarking tool

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Hi Michael
If you go to options, you have a number of choices for allowing others to edit your bookmarks.

Initially you can make it public (so that it shows up in their lists) or Private, then it doesn't show up in the lists, but if give anyone the URL, then they can see it.

Next, you have the option of what visitors can do. It's not got complete flexibility - but you can control whether they can just add links, or do more.
As far as I can tell, it's all or nothing - so you can't have some folders that they can just see, and others that they can add things to. You can lock folders, so that they are hidden unless you're logged in.
Though you can allow any visitor to add links etc., you also have the option to require them to add a password, which is probably a good idea! They all have the same password though, so that makes it easier to share with a whole class.
I assume you've found the ways of importing from / exporting to your browser bookmarks? (I first set it up when I was getting confused using different computers & different browsers - I couldn't remember where I was bookmarking things)

Emma
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Derek Chirnside -
This has been a small tsunami of posts, and I'm just getting around to a little catch up.  I did not notice this was the first in the threads until now.

Something from me.  I'm an intermittent blogger, running one blog for my mother to read (and a few misc friends) and another for thoughts on my work life, and I am on two corperate blogs.  I call my worklife blog "Light in the Shadows" since the themes are too broad to fit into a meaningful pithy phrase.  (That's the first rule of blogging: find a theme.  The second rule of blogging is: find a silly/catchy/memorable/unique name.).  I blog on productivity, professional development, learning, communities, open source, GTD, coffee, whimsy, bad design, Things Everybody Should Think About, and food.  I crusade against lousy teaching, poor organisation, certain types of conferences and anything that is boring.  I have deleted posts I have written in haste.  :-)

I started on blogger, and found it too limiting.  I moved to pLog which became Lifetype.  I tried Zanga and Moveable type until it turned commercial.  I now use Wordpress.  Three or four other blogs have just died as they came and went for specific purposes.  After I'd been dabbling a little, in July 2005 I was asked to help on a Science Ed course using blogs.  Environmental Ed.  It was real fun, and I guess the blog is still out there somewhere . . .  I've written this up somewhere, but the BIG learning was from two comments in a session after we had been going a few weeks.

Student 1: "I just hate the blog.  It's just always there wanting me to come and make a post"
Student 2: "I just love it.  Whenever something occurs to me, I can go there and make a post"
:-)
It was then it dawned on me: blogging does affect people in different ways, it's a special medium and environment.  I detailed my blogging life a bit as well.  I found - and still find - that having a place helps little thoughtlets stay in my mind and becoming bigger more well developed thoughts.  I've always done this in a sense, I also have 35 years of journals and notebooks where there are a range of thoughts and fragments.
Most bloggers blog about blogging sometime.  :-)
I also think I have enough evidence to assert this: if you are going to use blogs in a class, blog yourself first.

I take sessions "Non tekky intro to web 2.0" and I suggest, as a starter re blogs, to the shy, unconfident: Pretend to blog for a bit.  Open up a word file and write in it every day as if you were blogging.  Think and shape your thoughts and see how you feel.
Or as the next step: blog just for you in a closed blog.  In this respect I'm facing the existentialist question: Is a person a blogger before they have started to blog?
I encourage everyone to read at least one blog regularly "Find the person who is a world leader in your field, and read their blog"
Then post on it.  :-)

There is more of course in my thoughts on starting out, but that is enough for now.  For 2006 we have run online course looking at web 2.0 matters in teaching, and by choice more than half of the students blog.  I'm now in a new environment/job, using a both locked down CMS, but with blogs in it (WebCT) and out own home grown environment (Which Bee asked about, I'll respond elsewhere . .)  Just today I was asked "Can you help set up my class with blogs for next term?"  (I said yes, if you blog . . .)

Do blogs enhance learning experiences?
(Yes, sometimes, sometime hugely)

I have no specific expectations from this workshop.  I have got more blogs to follow up on that I can cope with just in a short read here, thank-you everybody.  Most of the blogs I ever read are from personal recommendations.  Thanks you Michael, Sylvia and all.
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
Derek has given us a vivid insight into the life of a developed Blogger- one who has been using the medium for a while now and who understands the range of uses and the range of Blogging tools around and their differences. So this is realy worth reading. Thank you Derek.

As you imply, using your Blogs as a kind of running notebook is a wonderful way to store and catalyze your creative thoughts. It is like an intimate diary with a potential audience when we feel we are ready for that dimension....

I loved your suggestion for students (or anyone) that they pretend to Blog for a while before they actually get into the real thing.

And a question: how do you use Blogs within WebCT... are you using THEIR system, or have you set up and independant Blogger within their walls?
And then do you make it an assessment task? And if so, what kind of criteria do you have in place?

Many thanks
Derek,

Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Blogs inside WebCT

by Derek Chirnside -
From Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching. by michaelgriffith on Friday, 16 February 2007 12:16:00 a.m.:
And a question: how do you use Blogs within WebCT... are you using THEIR system, or have you set up and independant Blogger within their walls?
And then do you make it an assessment task? And if so, what kind of criteria do you have in place?


I'll post at the risk of repetition.  WebCT will not support one blog per member, with blogs visible to all in the system or in the world  It is a CMS, and a very locked down one at that.  Period.  I am a bit sad about this.  WebCT really does NOT cut it.  We will have to go outside I think to get even the basics.  Furthermore, with the Bb takeover, I don't thoink this will change - I'm struggling with some basics that have been issues for months in the Bb community.  We are using WebCT for what it does well, and trying to avoid cludges.

There is a post somewhere on elgg/webCT.  I seem to recall somewhere there is a plug in option in webCT (something like ''power links'') .  We may look at this, to see if our home grown blog - or even Wordpress could be integrated.
But a single sign-on setup may be where we go.  This means a suite of apps (eg Mahara, e-portfolio, CMS, Wiki and blogs) that you can go to seamlessly between them once there is a login somewhere.

A top banner may look like this:
Home | CMS | Wiki | Blogs | Mahara | e-mail | chat

Home would include MY RSS, new activity, course news, calendar, any links to anything I want.
My dream.  Or is it a nightmare?

I am still learning here.  We shall see.
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Blogs inside WebCT

by Claude Almansi -
If it's a nightmare, Derek, I share the same with relish, with a small variant: I'd prefer a hub application where you can publish into and read from the other applications, after you have given their log-in info, rather than only a single sign-on for all of them.

This is already partly feasible with several apps: you can import blog entries into a wikispaces.com wiki, you can publish to a main blog and to your Internet archive account from a video blog at blip.tv etc...

A single sign-on would be great for students who do not yet have other accounts with other apps, sure. But wouldn't it be useful to be able to integrate such already existing accounts, for instance if students change schools?
In reply to Claude Almansi

Re: Blogs inside WebCT

by Michael Griffith -
Thank you for extending this conversation Claude. Many of us are concerned with how best to serve our students and like Derek, I HAVE to work with WebCT/Bb because this is what the university has set in place. And there are clearly real virtues in having such a rich tool available. However all these other resources do hover around the edges. Are you suggesting that something like wikispaces could serve as connecting point so that we could include here all the extra tools and keep it outside the framework of- say- WebCT? Or do you envisage that we could incorporate this "hub" into WebCT itself???? Hope I am understanding you clearly Claude,
Cheers
Michael :-/ :-/
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Blogs inside WebCT

by Terry Wassall -

As a matter of interest Elgg has a number of gizmos now (I'm not a techy so I have no idea how these work) that integrate Elgg with Webct, Mediawiki, LDAP(?) and os on. An alternative to (or as well as) Mediawiki is a new wiki plugin (so it is 'in' Elgg). I am not sure how this will work as it has only just been announced and is due to be made available next week sometime I think. When this was first discussed over a year ago the idea was that, if wanted, a wiki could be added to any personal and communtity blog. I assume it will appear as a link in the sidebar or a tab. Hopefully access to the wikis will be controllable in exactly the same way as any other objects in Elgg

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Blogs inside WebCT

by Michael Griffith -
Integration of other tools within WebCT.

Terry has allerted us to the possibility of incorporating a number of other tools into WebCT. This looks a very fruitful line of exploration.
I wonder Terry could you explain how Elgg might work for an Educator within WebCT and how it might complement or supplement a Blogging link such as LiveJournal?
Do you have any experience of using Elgg in this way? Why would you recommend it?
Many thanks
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blogs inside WebCT

by Terry Wassall -

At the moment Elgg is a pilot installation and is not integrated with our VLE (Bodington) or even our back and admin services. We are in the process of choosing a new VLE which will almost certainly have blogging and e-portfolio type functions within it. But for a variety of reasons we are hoping to keep a blogging system going that is external to the new VLE when we get it. Reading contributions to these forums I can now see some real problems if all or too many module leaders and convenors decide to require students to have a module specific blog and jump thorough hoops with them. I'm not sure what contribution this would make to students developing a personal resource that offers reflection on all of their learning across their degree programmes and beyond, helps them find an on-line reflective voice (even identity?) and encourages them to become members of a wider, looser and more informal learning community (a bit like this one!). It would be great if students could have something that is 'theirs' and not tied closely to the institutional structures of programmes, modules, credits, assessments and so on. Also research postgrads, library staff, learning technologists, staff development colleagues, etc. are fully members of our intellectual community and can make use of these sorts of facilities outside of a VLE. And many of us are part of research networks and projects that cross many boundaries, institutional and geographical.

 

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Blogs inside WebCT

by Michael Griffith -
Terry- your description "It would be great if students could have something that is 'theirs' and not tied closely to the institutional structures of programmes, modules, credits, assessments and so on" makes me feel good about the way LiveJournal has evovled for my students who are happy using it both within class and then outside class once the course has finished.....
Here for example is the LiveJournal of a student of mine who completed her course in 2005 and who has now come back to do her honours year:

http://d-lowe.livejournal.com/

Worth a look

Cheers
Michael


In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blogs inside WebCT

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Aperto have released a plugin (or widget, or gizmo - call it what you will!) which will allow you to have a direct link from WebCT to Elgg.

I've not used it, but I want to, so rather than try to explain, have a look at their website: http://www.aperto-elearning.com/?q=node/7

The site says that you need to have WebCT Campus 6 or Vista, but I've read elsewhere that you can get it to work with WebCT 4.

As I understand it, you can have it set so that the only route to Elgg is via WebCT, or you can have it so that you can either go via WebCT, or directly.

In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Blogs inside WebCT

by Michael Griffith -
Thanks for that Emma.... we are looking into the possibility here at ACU... although I am told the more plug-ins you put into WebCT 6 the more problems it throws up.... don't know what your experience has been... but we have had a number of difficulties since the upgrade from WebCT 4 to 6
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blogs inside WebCT

by Emma Duke-Williams -
We're still waiting for the upgrade to WebCT Vista, from Campus 4 - I'm hoping to be able to convince the right people that an Elgg/WEbCT link would be Very Useful! (and allow much greater power than the "blogging" tool that you can get for Vista, which is, in my opinon too limited - in particular the fact that it's tied to a course in WebCT - not to the student - and all the courses that they are studying - including those that have no WebCT element!)

In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Blogs inside WebCT

by Michael Griffith -
Thanks for these thoughts Derek- the ideal interface for students using these tools for Higher Education is a dream we all share... but a question: Where do you envisage this top banner going? When you include CMS would this be a link back to WebCT/Blackboard... or do you see this banner as existing inside WebCT???
Michael
V-.
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Jeffrey Keefer -

Hello, Michael. I am not reading these posts in order as the sheer volume of posts this week have overwhelmed my email and newsreader programs, so I am replying as I encounter the posts I have missed.

My Name is Jeffrey Keefer, and professionally I am a Sr. Instructional Designer at a large homecare nursing organization located in New York City. I adjunct in corporate training and instructional design at New York University's School of Continuing and Professional Studies as well as in the Management Communication department in New York University's Stern School of Business. I previously taught high school computer applications and philosophy (my first part of my academic background), as well as corporate technical training and knowledge management. I am currently interested in academic research, especially in the field of human resource development in and around the issues of organizational power and positionality (from a critical and postmodern perspective). I am looking to transition my work with adult education more into the online and social networking sphere, so I will be looking to you to help lead the way in this regard. I hope to also bring these interests together into more research proposals, especially from a qualitative perspective.

I have been interested in social media and online facilitation, and decided to begin recording my thoughts on my personal blog, Silence and Voice. To further explore the world of the blogosphere, I am attending the Canadian blogging conference Northern Voice next week in Vancouver, and will certainly reflect on what I learn on my own blog.

I am really looking forward to learning and sharing with our group here.

In reply to Jeffrey Keefer

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
HI Jeffrey.... I think you - along with all of us- are suffering from the sheer overload of our collective and collaborative interest.... what fun!!! But I know for myself I have to step out to the garden and move a few burnt tree stumps around from time to time to remember that I inhabit a body that loves to stay in contact with nature!!!!

I enjoyed looking through your Silence and Voice blog- I can see how a blog like this really does help to bring some focus into our deeper questions and provides a space where you can collect some of your most useful learning experiences and on-line reference materials (which is I suppose what the original weblog was all about).

We would love to know how the Northern Voice Blogging conference went/is going.... is there any way you could share with us the essence of what interests you there...? I am sure there must be huge overlaps with what this collection of "international scholars" is trawling through.

My own recent work with homeless and disadvantaged adults, seeking to gain entry into higher education and the work force is grounded very much in the work of Earl Shorris (http://www.mfh.org/newsandevents/newsletter/MassHumanities/Spring2000/shorris.html) who seeks empowerement not through social handouts but through education in the humanities: a way of reconnecting these people with their own humanity. My own use of online technology in this sphere has, I thinked, helped to open more connections for this group of people and certainly empowered them to be part of the technological conversation which none of us can avoid.

I would love to hear more about some of your tentative research proposals... maybe something will come more sharply into focus for you after the Northern Voice conference.
Thank you Jeffrey for sharing this with us.
Michael.
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Jeffrey Keefer -

Michael-

Northern Voice is next week, so I will certainly speak about its goings-on while there. As to my reserch, I am interested in blogging motivation, and I am planning that as being the next direction for my investigation. We know that many people blog and we know why--however, I have not seen much research as to what motivates bloggers to continue blogging. From where is the passion and interest in social media? I of course have my ideas about this, as I am sure many of our colleagues here have as well, but I have found a paucity of research thuis far.

Thank you for having a look at my site and for your feedback. Amazing the communal elements in online media!

Jeffrey

In reply to Jeffrey Keefer

Re: Northern Voice

by Sylvia Currie -
This is very exciting to hear you'll be at Northern Voice, Jeffrey! I'll be there! Let's meet up and talk about blogs :-)

The timing couldn't be better -- spend a couple weeks in SCoPE talking about blogging then head off to a blogging conference. This seminar is providing a nice package of themes which I can use in a presentation. (With full credit given to SCoPE members, of course!) Word about this seminar has traveled to the Northern Voice participants through (guess tongueout) blogs so we may have a few others in here, or reading along at least.
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Northern Voice

by Michael Griffith -
Wish I was there with you both.... !!!!!
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Northern Voice

by Jeffrey Keefer -

Michael, there is still time to fly there! I have a 12 hour flight on Thursday morning . . .

So, Sylvia and I are planning to attend Northern Voice. Is anybody else here planning to attend?

In reply to Jeffrey Keefer

Re: Northern Voice

by Michael Griffith -
Thanks for the offer Jeffrey- what takes 12 hours in your continent... part of the way must be by train???
From Sydney it is 14 hours to LA direct and then ? hours to Canada.....
Possible... but unfortunately I lack the funds for such impromptu events.... love to be a millionaire!
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Northern Voice

by Jeffrey Keefer -

I keep playing the lottery, but still no luck.

No train--it is so long because I am going from New York to Houston to Seattle to Vancouver. Direct flights were too expensive when I bought my tickets. I pack a bunch of books to read when I fly. Let's hope for clean weather . . .

In reply to Jeffrey Keefer

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
From my own experience in education, we as educators have to keep the fires burning to keep the blogging happening. And part of this is making sure that the bloggers have an audience. So creating networks of "Friends" and creating requirements for critiquing one another's blogs are all part of this strategy... but.... once this is all set in train, I know that for quite a number of my students (say around 20%)... they stay with the blog well after the course is finished. In fact I have students who finished 3 years ago who keep in touch with the university and with me throught their blogs.....
For your interest I attach an article I have just finished which summarizes my own experience with all this. Love to get any feedback!
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Jeffrey Keefer -
Michael, do you know of any best practices for creating or working with blogs, especially those oriented toward adult students? Perhaps guidelines for writing successful blogs?
In reply to Jeffrey Keefer

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
Jeffrey- I only know what I have developed over the last couple of years myself... this has grown out of what I have read... the specific source material is not ready to hand (lots of different articles)... exchanges at conferences etc.... so the best I can do is to attach my current course rubric for LiveJournal (which I am sure you could apply to any Bloggin program) and also direct you to having a look at the papers I have given on Blogging for which I have provided links in my Bio details.... let me know if there is anything you can't find.... I can email you an Impaticized version of the PowerPoint I gave on Blogging in Chicago last July if you can't get the right connection.... but I would have to do this via email because SCoPE only permits a 5MB upload.... thanks for the question Jeffrey... and please if you run into any best practices documents I would LOVE to see them... I am still very much in the learning process... I am not a GuruBlog yet... although aspiring in that direction....!@
B-) B-)
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Increasing upload file size in SCoPE

by Sylvia Currie -
I'm noticing all sorts of little details that require my attention this morning as I review the forum posts. Michael noted a 5MB upload limit in SCoPE. I just increased that to 20MB so you can upload your blogging presentation. I'm guessing it's not that big wide eyes, but I recommend always adding information about file size so members know if they can handle the download before clicking the link. 
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Increasing upload file size in SCoPE

by Michael Griffith -
Sylvia has increase the size of possible uploads to 20 MB (even though I do notice that it still says 5MB at the foot of the page... so ignore this)... So I hereby launch my presentation on the use of LiveJournal in my teaching. This was a paper I delivered at the Chicago WebCT Conference in July of last year.
Sylvia- please paste/post the paper wherever you see fit....
And as you will gather I thoroughly enjoyed being in Chicago... a wonderful city in every way!!
Michael

PS the presentation was constructed in Mac 2004 PowerPoint... I have noticed that translation to PC can in some places change the colour balance so you may have to adjust this to read all the text clearly....
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Increasing upload file size in SCoPE

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Don't forget, another alternative would be to upload it to Slideshare.net - which would mean that you wouldn't have to upload to here - and also those with dialup connections wouldn't have to download it. 
In reply to Jeffrey Keefer

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Tamara Gardner -
Michael, do you know of any best practices for creating or working with blogs, especially those oriented toward adult students? Perhaps guidelines for writing successful blogs?

I just wondered... what would you call a successful blog?

There are lots of different things that come to my mind for that question..

for instance is a more successful blog where a student recieves an A for all of their posts, yet stops writting the minute the course is over? Or the student who recieves C's just manages to pass, yet continues to use the blog for the rest of their life?

Or the student who has a vide veiwer/responder base, or the person who is more critical of their own work?

Be interesting to see what people deem to be a successful blog..

Tamara
In reply to Tamara Gardner

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
Tamara asks a very interesting question. Can we evaluate what makes a good blog? Or is the genre too amorphous? It is not like a neat creative work (story, poem, film). It is more in the nature of diary, journal, compilation? But I certainly know when I see a well constructed, well documented, well illustrated, interesting, exciting, thoughtful..... blog!
But when we come to student productions, for evaluation purposes then we are into a different ball game and the poor lecturer has to set down some guidelines for what he/she thinks will make a good ... blog.... and then students find the need to live up to these guidelines.... so these are my criteria (what does anyone think? can they be modified?)

ASSESSMENT CRITERIA for LiveJournal

Range of entries: these should reflect a range of dates throughout the semester. They should not be clustered around one particular section of the unit.
Number of entries: I will be checking your LiveJournal to note regularity of entries, the sorts of entries and range of material covered.
Quality of entries: the entries must conform to the requirements listed above. LiveJournal is an informal space, so you will NOT be marked down for using colloquial language and you will NOT be marked down for getting your punctuation wrong; but you will be marked down if your language or content is inappropriate (what this means is explained under “What is LiveJournal?” above. This is a space where you should simply enjoy the experience of letting it all FLOW!. However the quality of your ideas and the creativity of your writing in all categories will be taken into account.
Evidence of learning: the entries should indicate that you have developed in your learning and understanding during the semester.
Ability to interact with others: interaction with the group as a whole is an important element in the success of LiveJournal as a writing space. Your overall mark will take into account the range of your contacts within the group and the quality and value of your commentaries on the work of your “Friends”.
Michael V-. V-. V-. V-. V-.
In reply to Tamara Gardner

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Kelly Christopherson -
Tamara,

As a person who is keeping a blog for professional reasons, my idea of a successful blog is one that develops and grows, where the writer explores various topics and encourages open dialgoue. Presently I track about 200 blogs of various people. I don't necessarily go to some of the higher profilce blogs like Vickie DavisWill Richardson or David Warlick as much as I use to.  Having said this, Vickie Davis' site has great resources especially 10 Habits of Bloggers that Win. I'm always searching for those that have something interesting and worthwhile to say - something that makes me think and evaluate my own ideas. When I first started, I was not a real advocate of blogging but since I have begun and have connected with all kinds of people, I am a firm believer in its use as a professional development/learning tool.
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Jeffrey Keefer -
Kelly, I also follow a similar number of blogs. I use FeedDemon / Newsgator; what do you use?
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Kelly Christopherson -
Michael,

I am an administrator in a K -12 school in rural Saskatchewan, Canada. I was with a few of the other people in the online conference last week and decided to see what this was all about!

I am using blogging with my students as a form of response and reflection. We are uing blogmeister to start. I do hope to get to a point that we can navigate to something like edubogs for students where I will not have to do as much filtering.

Personally I have been using blogging for a few months at www.kwhobbes.edublogs.org. I have found the interaction to be great and it has helped me to reflect much more on my practice and how I use different tools to achieve understanding. It has also put me in contact with a number of different people whom I now converse on a regular basis. I am always seeking out new blogs to see what others are thinking, doing and experiencing.
I find the web2.0 tools to be great forms of personal PD, allowing me to experiment and try different things to enhance the learning for the students.
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: The Vital Value of Blogging in Higher Education Teaching.

by Michael Griffith -
:-D
Thank you. Kelly has given us a glimpse of his educational blog at http://kwhobbes.edublogs.org/.
I found his blog hugely refreshing because it speaks so fully, openly and honestly about the challenges (organizational, emotional, life/work balance) that we -especially we here in this seminar- are facing as our educational desktop has suddenly- in the last 5 years been overloaded with a myriad of wonderful, mind boggling, powerful, enticing educational tools. And individually and collectively we wrestle with this feast of possibilities (and that is exactly what we are all doing right here and now). But there is a cost and a strain... and a nostalgic look back to the time when a Blackboard with chalk, or possibly an overhead with a transparency, or a video clip... could enhance our conversation in class (at school or university)... now..... ???? so we are really at a vital crossroads and gradually things will fall more clearly into shape in terms of what works really well for us in our respective spheres.
I must confess that Blogging for me (in conjunction with WebCT- which was handed to us as the first course of our meal- like it or lump it!) ... Blogging is a wonderful, relatively simple, multi-facted addition. And like a young student who has spent a lot of time buying a new pen for his work, I intend to stick with Blogging and exhaust its possibilities. Of course I AM always looking over to the other side of the room to see what they are doing with other brilliant tools (being brought in steaming hot by the tray load).... but I am determined not to be too distracted until I have used MY PEN for all it is worth....
Thank you so much Kelly for sharing that blog with us... I have placed in my status bar for me to return to it..... I can see how it is helping you to clarify and get hold of your clearer direction... which is, what I think, all true journalling is all about.

Michael G