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

New to blogging

New to blogging

by Ricky Carter -
Number of replies: 73

Dear All,

Full disclosure: I have never used a Blog (though I have read my son's when he was in Bolivia).

My name is Ricky Carter and I am developing an online master's degree program at Lesley University in Cambridge MA - in, of all things, Mathematics Education.  Since this is a literature group I hope my partiicpation can add a different dimension.  The Mathematics we try to teach is based around personal sensemaking and collborative discussion so I hope to find some interesting and useful connections in participating in this seminar.  We use Blackboard at Lesley and so far our version has not seemed to provide many tools for the kind of collaborative knowledge building work we espouse. I am looking for other tools to support a collaborative and self expressive approach.

I look forward to getting to know some of you and sharing and learning all I can.  I hope my distance from literature and my lack of experience with Blogs will not dilute the work you are hoping to accomplish

-Ricky Carter

In reply to Ricky Carter

Re: New to blogging

by Heather Ross -
Welcome Ricky.

My suggestion would be that if your institution allows you to step outside of Blackboard you should make use of tools like blogs and wikis to add collaboration to courses.

I've spoken with a few people who, unfortunately, do not see blogs as collaborative. They think that they're just about one person putting up posts and letting others respond to what they have to say. I've seen many collaborative blogs, however, in educational and non-educational settings and I think that they are a great addition to the learning process.
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: New to blogging

by Sharon Porterfield -

Blogs can be very collaborative. I started a blog at work for the people who design courses and provide training. There are only two of us with formal training in instructional design while there are a few others with "technical ID" training (the "cookie cutter" approach - know what do include, but not necessarily the "why" or the best "how" of delivery).

The blog was started to share articles and raise questions to get people thinking. Initially, most of the posts were simply in response to something I posted, but it's getting people talking and coming to me or the other ID for more information. It will take time until the others feel comfortable posting their own thoughts and ideas, but that's OK. We've created a place where people can come to learn more about ID and, even though the collaboration is not yet occuring online, it is definitely occuring within the bricks and mortar of our building.

Baby steps!

In reply to Sharon Porterfield

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Sharon that has been my experience too in the student setting. Students actually get to know a little more about each other before they meet. So it supports and intensifies social networking. I have had students say that before blogging they hardly knew anyone in the class. Thanks for that observation.

What blogging system are you using? Do you use a Friends List? That can really help to make the collaboration you are seeking happen.

Do you know what the Friends' System is?- If you go into LiveJournal it explains all about Friends...

Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: New to blogging

by Tamara Gardner -
I've found that through the blogs not only are you more able to get to know the people in your classes, but you find them more approachable...

For instance "hey aren't you..... I read your entry/I commented on your entry about....."

Tamara
In reply to Tamara Gardner

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Perfect response Tamara- thank you.
Tamara is one of my -now- second year students who has been blogging intensively in her literature courses at Australian Catholic University for the whole of 2006 and well into 2007. Her comment provides "hard evidence" for the socializing function of Blogs in a University setting. I know from what other students have told me that through blogs they have got to know a whole personal side of fellow students that might have taken a couple of years to achieve in the past.

I am sure that Tamara would love to answer any other specific experiential questions from the USERS perspective....

Thank you for your openness to this Tamara!

Cheers
Michael
In reply to Sharon Porterfield

Re: New to blogging

by Gladys Baya -
Considering my limited experience in blogging, my words should be taken with a pinch of salt, but...
I'd say that in collaborative blogging, stages might go as following:
  1. the blog owner posts without an awareness of audience
  2. the blog owner posts with an attempt to identify audience (at this stage, the poster finishes their entries with questions or invites "invisible" readers to comment)
  3. the blog owner posts for a clear audience (e.g. the poster refers back to blog commentators or includes links to other blogs or sites by them)
  4. a regular group of commentators is set, and dialogues take place via blog comments
  5. some of these commentators start making entries (as "guest bloggers"), and each of them goes through stages #1 to #4.
  6. a regular group of posters is thread, with a group voice gradually developed.
I'd say that if Sharon's readers approach her and the other ID making references to the blog, this is a collaborative experience indeed, no matter whether their audience dare "speak up online" yet! Eventually, they'll feel ready to establish an online presence, provided Sharon and her colleague keep "showing them the way"...

I'm writing here ideas I didn't know I have, surprise so pls let me know if you share these views, have read anything along the same lines, or just think me wrong! dead

Hope I'm not interfering in your learning with my posts... not sure what the main topic should be now... just reacting to your posts, and reflecting upon the way!


In reply to Gladys Baya

Re: New to blogging, too, but not of the course-based variety

by Paul Beaufait -
Hi, Paul here - over from Gladys et al's engaging workshop, wiki and mailing list on Blogging for Beginners.

I've been blogging for approximately seven months - neither as a student nor with students, mind you - and oscillating largely around stages one and two of Gladys' progression into collaborative blogging. That is, if you construe step one as blogging "without awareness of [or concern about an interpersonal] audience" (Baya, 13 February 2007).

If you allow that interpretation, I'll say that blogging has already enhanced a suite of intrapersonal, ubiquitous learning experiences. Yet I certainly wouldn't fancy it as a course requirement.

Cheers, Paul
In reply to Gladys Baya

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Welcome Gladys.....
I would say your comments are very useful... What you have described is precisely the way that Blogs grow organically from individual input to group collaboration.
This has been precisely my experience with a class full of students where they begin as individuals and gradually tune into each other's voices and experience......

But ... and this is a very important but...... in my experience one has to nurture this process otherwise it may not happen.... that is why using blogging in an educational environment is so productive, because there one can set requirements, give marks (and prizes) and so stir the curry so that all the flavours are fully matured and delectable!

But from my experience this does take work and a definite dedication to the task.... I think this would apply to anyone wishing to set up a blogging community in whatever field of interest.

Do others have this experience of the effort needed to get a group of Bloggers moving???

MIchael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: effort needed to get a group of Bloggers moving

by Gladys Baya -
Thanks for your comments, Michael!

As regards to your question:
"ne has to nurture this process otherwise it may not happen.... that is why using blogging in an educational environment is so productive, because there one can set requirements, give marks (and prizes) and so stir the curry so that all the flavours are fully matured and delectable!

But from my experience this does take work and a definite dedication to the task...."

I agree completely, and I'm particularly challenged in my teaching context because:
1. I cannot demand use of computers (let alone the Internet!), I can just encourage it, as the school cannot ensure all students have access to computers (they could all go to cybercenters, or even public libraries, of course, but that's not an acceptable requirement for any course).

2. I only teach each group of students for 80 minutes a week - 36 meetings between April and November.. and then off they go! That in a school with no computers at all, and having to cover many things apart from blogging...

So I call myself happy if I manage to get a couple of students interested in blogging each year... I feel a crucial factor is to get more teachers involved in similar practices, and looooots of teamwork. Reading about how far other teachers here have already gone along this path encourages me to keep working for it, though!

Gladys
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Heather you are so right. There is the same misperception amongst some of my colleagues- and a fear of what can't be completely controlled.

Blogging is, from my experience, about creating interactive communities that support the ongoing teaching, opening it out in ways that are just not possible in the time constraints of a class. Witness the way one of my second year students responded to one of his peers ( a mature age student- with whom he may never have spoken without the availability of the blogging tool). Here Neill is advising Carolyn on how she could improve a poem she has written in her LiveJournal: http://carolyngiblin.livejournal.com/23389.html.... read the poem and then Neill's comment.

This opened up a poetry forum- conducted by the students themselves- that deeply supported the teaching I was doing in class... only here they were dealing with their own poetry...
So while Blogs start off as being individual, within a learning community they soon become a collaborative, community building tool... but it is important to make the right kind of demands of students... and this means putting some marks on blogging as part of a course assessment.... see the attached document that I have developed if you are interested....
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: New to blogging

by Tamara Gardner -
I know that this isn't really the appropriate place to be saying this...

But through peoples blogs you can truely hear peoples voices emerging...

In the link that Micheal gave there is a comment from "anonymous". I knew the voice of the writer to be Marc before I even scrolled down to see his new reply "Anonymous was me."

*smiles*

Tamara
Second year ACU Student
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: New to blogging

by Peter Blakey -

Heather,

A minor point - the latest versions of Blackboard, and in particular the CE Version 6, have a blog and journal capacity within their Discussion tool. It removes the necessity to ¨float¨between environments.

In reply to Peter Blakey

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Welcome local colleague Peter.... I think this is an important step for Blackboard, but as far as I know the one limitation of blogging within Blackboard is that it does not really permit the cross institutional, cross discipline possibilities that are provided by an external blogging client (such as LiveJournal). And the beauty is of course, that such external "Bloggers" can be "built" by the user right inside Blackboard/WebCT... This is how I have set up my WebCT/Blackboard courses. The first things students see as they enter is a LiveJournal icon which takes them straight to the place where they set up their journal and where they will find all the addresses of their potential friends.....
Thanks for you comment Peter... please stay with us!
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Peter Blakey

WebCT Blogs

by Derek Chirnside -
You are of course right Peter.  Michael has indicated one problem with Bb - blogs cannot be seen in other courses besides the one they are in - not without a $30K plug in.  I've hit this wall with a project in a school here - "Can everyone have a blog visible to everyone in each course in subject X - located  in webCT" - the answer: no.

The second issue is whether they have them minimum functionality of blogs.  See below for a screen snap.  What do you see?  No blog roll and no tags.  I think these are aspects that add the 'blog' dimension to a mere reverse chronological list of posts.

I think this is a good added step, but it's not really there yet.
Attachment Blog_Post.jpg
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: WebCT Blogs

by Claude Almansi -
Another thing I don't see in your screenshot, Derek, is an RSS feed. Does this mean that teachers using a WebCT platform have to enter the platform in order to know what students are posting on each of their blogs?

I was on a Swiss forum once, where we were trying out WebCT: I found it most irritating, but that was years ago. It could have got better since? (could hardly have got worse...)
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: WebCT Blogs

by Michael Griffith -
Derek has produced some interesting further evidence for the limitations of Blogging tools set up within proprietorial systems such as Blackboard (WebCT). Thank you Derek.
As I see it, blogs are, of their nature, a means of communication that lies outside the hierarchical formal structures. They ARE the voice of the people; they are democratizing agents and potentially sources of "truth" that hierarchies (be they in media, education, politics) don't want to hear. So there is something uncomfortable about the hierarchies claiming, as it were, these individualizing blogs into their monolithic structures.... a bit like turning the Beat Generation into a cultural artifact displayed in the great galleries of the world..... enough! I must get off my soapbox.... but maybe some of you will see where I am going with this.....

More comments on the functionality of Blogs within Bb and WebCT would be useful here....
Thank you for this Derek
Michael
In reply to Peter Blakey

Re: New to blogging

by Heather Ross -
Peter,

I had heard about this  (we're using version 6), but being the rebel and open source fan that I am, I encourage people to make use of the wide variety of non-proprietary tools that are out there.
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Yes - I am with you on this Heather... as much as I do also love all the functionality that WebCT does give me... I don't really want to bite the hand that feeds me... but I do love the freedom that an outsider Blogger brings into the hallowed walls of the Blackboard!
Michael
In reply to Ricky Carter

Re: New to blogging

by Terry Wassall -

Like Heather, some colleagues of mine don't really see blogs as a collaborative tool. I tend to disagree as I have gained a lot from comments to some of my blog posts and have had some useful and interesting exchanges of ideas by commenting on others' blogs. Quite often a loose network of blogs and bloggers does form an exciting collaborative envonment.

One of the reasons we are exploring Elgg at my Uni is that it allows communities (i.e. group authored blogs) to be set up. I think LiveJournal and other systems can do this as well. There was a series of posts by James Farmer (originator of Edublogs I think- I'll try to find the posts) on whether blogs are a good basis for community and collaborative work. His answer was no as far as I remember but many disagreed with him, as I did.

10 minutes later: I found the blog posts mentioned above

http://incsub.org/blog/2005/you-blog-alone-thats-the-point

http://incsub.org/blog/2006/group-blogs

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: New to blogging

by Heather Ross -
Terry, I understand the idea of the need for personal space that blogs can provide, which is why I have my own blog. I am, however, also involved in a education related blog that is completely open. I know of many non-education related blogs that also allow for many people to make posts as well as comment. I think that blogs started as journals and have expanded to be so much more.

Thanks for the links.
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: New to blogging

by Ricky Carter -

Dear Heather and everyone else who responded,

Thank you.  And now my (perhaps nieve) question is - if you can reply and comment to a blog how is it different from a threaded discussion?

Is it just format - that the responses can be displayed on a single page?

Bb allows you to "collect" posts on a single page - but the design is so incredibly inflexible that it is useless, but if I had a threaded discussion that allowed me to display all the posts and responses on a single page - would it be different?

-Ricky

In reply to Ricky Carter

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Ricky has asked a very important question: How is a blog different from a threaded discussion?
Thank you for the question. It is important. Maybe we have different answers to this?????

My answer goes like this.
I use both threaded discussions within my teaching AND blogs. For me they are quite different.
A threaded discussion (provided as a tool within Blackboard and WebCT) provides a (usually) text-only space where a question(s) can be posed and students answer the question in a thread of responses.
EG Tolstoy's Story Death of Ivan Illych his hopeful despite Ivan's agonizing death. Why?

Students will typically answer this question one after the other commenting, expanding, suggesting resources,building on each others observations etc etc... At the end of the day we have created a good resource on Tolstoy's story and we have enabled 20 students to demonstrate their skills of understanding and collobaration.

A blog is a space where someone can first and foremost, create their persona, project an image of who they are, what they like, what they think... and from there they can engage in a whole range of activities from expressing their thoughts on topics dear to them, to sharing their photographs, videos and music, to engaging with a group of like-minded individuals (friends) in vigorous debate. They can also use it as a space where they can develop and store their creative work in a variey of media: image, text, video, sound... A good example of this from one of my students is the LiveJournal of Marc http://ghettoman7.livejournal.com who has been able to develop his literary and artistic talents in tandem ....
so as I see it a blog has a much wider range of possibilities- beyond the merely cerebral and intellectual- to the creative... it is in fact an artistic canvas that can be filled in many individualistic and collaborative ways.....

Do others share this view? ^-) ^-)
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: New to blogging

by Tamara Gardner -
As one of Michael's students I completely agree with him about the different values of blogs and discussions.

We use the discussion threads as just that, a place where we can share and DISCUSS different views, opinions etc.

Our Livejournals (blogs) however, are something that is extremely personal. We all feel an attachment to them as our very own. We are the ones who choose the URL, we are the ones who name the page, we are the ones who design the layout, and we are the ones who are pouring in our thoughts and opinions, or just sharing experiences or different medias.

While people are more than welcome to comment on our journals, the focus still remains on our work, while things such as our friends pages are displaying the work of those who we have choosen to make one of our friends.

Another thing is that in the discussion spaces you expect the people with access to them (sometimes the whole of the unit or sometimes people in your particular discussion group) to be reading all of the posts that are made.
The impact that this has is that these posts are generally more formal, and when it comes to expressing individual opinions, sometimes these are "sofened", or put across in a more "correct" way.

Our blogs on the other hand, while we do expect people to be veiwing some of our posts (particularly through their friends page) this is done in a more leisurely layed back atmosphere, and truely one of sharing...

Hope my opinions, which I believe are shared by (at least some!) of my peers make sense!

Tamara
Second Year LIT Student ACU
In reply to Tamara Gardner

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Tamara has again offered a fantastic contribution to this discussion- because it is a lucid description of her direct experience of the difference between working in a discussion thread on the one hand, and in a blogging envrironment in the other.

Again it is worth underlining her observation by saying that she is one of the first groups of students who underwent the experiment of being thrust into WebCT discussions AND LiveJournal blogging as part of their University requirements in first year Literature courses at ACU.

I feel the experiment was largely succesful and productive of some wonderful creativity and group collaborations.....

Please ask Tamara some more direct questions about her work... she may be able to share specific examples. For Higher Education educators this is a rare opportunity to have such involved and articulate students ready to share their thoughts and experience!

Thanks Tamara!!
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
I have had a look at Heather's Open Thinking (education related blog) http://openthinking.ca/.
Thank you for bringing that to our attention Heather. Does it work as a kind of notice board? Is it a space where you can get to know the contributors? I like the concept. How does it work for you? I am really interested,
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
I have had a look at Heather's Open Thinking (education related blog) http://openthinking.ca/.
Thank you for bringing that to our attention Heather. Does it work as a kind of notice board? Is it a space where you can get to know the contributors? I like the concept. How does it work for you? I am really interested, 8-) 8-)
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: New to blogging

by Barbara Dieu -
I feel, like James, that blogging is basically an individual pursuit and that it tends to form more loosely joined communities (communities of interest). What people write does not often get much commenting, unless you are well-known, write compellingly well or thought provoking posts.

It is true that environments like Elgg, My Space and LivJournal allow you to find people with similar interests more quickly and bring your blog into evidence in a more restricted context than the Web at large. Most successful bloggers have found a niche and only blog about certain topics. This specialization tends to bring mor readership.

However, for ordinary citizens, a blog gives the freedom to publish and document their thoughts and signals their presence online. I do not think that most blogs are started having collaboration in mind. From my experience, collaboration may spring as a result of finding someone whose writing and ideas resonate with yours.

How would you envisage an exciting collaborative environment using blogs?



In reply to Barbara Dieu

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
I think Barbara has made some pertinent observations about the nature of blogs and has put a really interesting question- how to produce "an exciting collaborative environment using blogs?"

My own answer to this (based on my experience) is that context produces the possibility for collaboration. If you use blogging as a tool within a course (in any discipline) and if you make the tool flexible enough so that it allows participants to express themselves as well as to share insights into course content... then an exciting environment can happen....

Let me share with you an extraordinary "event" that occurred between two of my courses (third year and first year): a first year student (actually participating in this seminar) produced a visually and conceptually challenging video/poem which reflected on the corrupting impact of the media on spirituality. His poem contained glimpses of ponorgraphic content. The pressure was on (by some third year students) for me as facilitator to step in and vetoe the content. I could see that this was potentially a very valuable learning experience for all involved where issues of real human concern would be thrashed out in the relatively safe environment of a course blog. The environment was electric: students from all persuasions came out in defense of either side, the moral issues were thoroughly debated. If you want to have a closer look observe the 54 comments that followed hard on the heels of this blog: http://mitchobrien.livejournal.com/2006/09/28/.... and this was not the end of the story... but the whole student (Literature) community became deeply engaged in the questions surrounding this poem.....

But let me return to Barbara's implicit questions (because we can't always produce this kind of electricity): what are the ingredients that we need for "an exciting collaborative environment using blogs"?
Can we share OUR resources to put together a "kit" for such an "environment"?
Michael
In reply to Barbara Dieu

Re: New to blogging

by Richard Olsen -
>How would you envisage an exciting collaborative environment using blogs?

Vox tries to build community by having a question of the moment, that people can answer with a blog post which then allows others to explore the different answers.  This seems like a good way to build community.

We use wordpress mu so we are able to display tag clouds and latest posts for all bloggers at school or by class.  We're also experimenting with using specific tags eg. sportsday or CERESexcursion to encourage interaction.

The nature of (true) blogs, with open apis/RSS feeds allow mashups that could be exciting.  Maybe, geo tagged posts which then could be displayed in google earth or google maps.  Or, something like taglines but using blog tags to show a school year.

Richard
In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Terry's observations about how "commenting on other's blogs" becomes the stimulus for collaborative exchange is exactly my experience too. However in order to achieve this I had, initially, to make this a compulsory part of what students had to do. While the overall effect has been very productive, some students have complained about HAVING to make weekly comments on the work of others... so this semester I have loosened up on this requirement in the hope that the responses are less forced...

Terry also note the use of Communities or Group authored blogs allowed by Elgg. LiveJournal allows this too.

How have you found this function Terry? I have found that although I have set up several such communities, students tend to create organic communities within and between their individual blogs... so the Group authored blogs, while they sit there as useful spaces for -say- a poetry competition- don't have quite the same vibrancy as an organic community that is created spontaneously between individual blogs.

Have a look at some of the communities I have set up at:
http://community.livejournal.com/poetrywcom/
http://community.livejournal.com/bookrc/

Typically- these are where students cut and paste either their good poems or their book and film reviews... they do work... but they don't quite have the vigour of the individual journals....

How does this match with your experience Terry?

Maybe in this context James Farmers' comments on group blogs (http://incsub.org/blog/2006/group-blogs) may have some validity... but I think there is a very big difference between blogs that are set up as a group blog and blogs that organically become a group... these are underpinned by individuals owning their own space.
Tell me what you think...
Cheers
Michael V-.
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: New to blogging

by Terry Wassall -

Good questions Michael. At the moment, in its pilot form, we have only a small number of UG students blogging - mostly compulsorily for computer science and medical modules. Very few of these continue blogging after their module is over. This may change when we roll out a blogging system to all students and encourage their more general use.

The great majority of users are staff, admin and academic. Community blogs tend to be linked to specific groups or services, so library staff have one, as does our VLE service, our Staff Development Unit, and so on. Other communities are set up for specific projects - development and research - and last for the duration. I would say that we have had only modest success with most the community groups and some have bombed.

My personal experience is as an occasional contributor and avid lurker at elgg.net. This is the publicly available flagship Elgg installation that has been going since November 2004. It is almost entirely populated by teachers and educationalist and many are using it with their students. I started my blog there in August 2005. Like Livejournal it has a ‘friends’ system to keep track of the blogs of particular interest - in fact I think it was originally modeled on Livejourna.

In terms of my own professional development this has been a turning point in my career. The acceleration in my development and thinking about e-learning has been quite dramatic and this has fed back into the development of various projects we are now running. It has led to quite a major shift in my career trajectory and what I want to achieve in the last few years of my formal employment (I will NOT be retiring!)

So my experience is mainly as an individual blogger who is on the periphery of a quite well established network of educational bloggers. I think this is a loose and shifting network rather than a ‘community’. However, it was great to meet up with some of the elgg.net bloggers at the ALT-C 2006 in Edinburgh last year. Then we really were a community of interest, centred mainly in the bars!

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Terry - you mirror my experience pretty closely. I too am in my "last" few years of service... but can't see myself retiring either with all this wonderful new "stuff" happening around us. I would love to know more about the elgg,net bloggers and how they have been deepening your understanding.......

Thank you

Cheers
Michael
In reply to Terry Wassall

When is a blog a blog . . ???

by Derek Chirnside -
Terry, this is great.  I think it's great you guys are talking about these things.
I am conservative but not a reactionary.  Fools rush in and all that.  You are talking about things as an institution, and I trust in these dialogues are some people to whom blogs are NOT flavour of the month.

This week I had to do a 2hr Dreamweaver course to enable me to manage a page that is my bio.  I asked if I could add my professional blog to this page and they said "oh, no, we don't host blogs here" so I clarified:
"No a link to my blog" and the answer was "we don't have a policy on that, try asking your boss".  This is three years after BLOG was the word of the year.

What is a blog?  You are right about James, he has some strong ideas.  I was in a heated discussion at BlogTalk downunder last year when the question arose "Is a blog a blog if it is private?"  and the discussion moved into the areas Christie has so clearly delineated in her "Public/Private" thread.  Some people believe strongly the "You blog alone and that's the point" idea with "It must be in public".  :-)  That's the purist view.  I think in education settings we need clear understandings that we pick and choose the facets of the tool we need.  The idea of the blog that some of my buddies dislike I just view as one version, merely a tool not suited for the task.
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: When is a blog a blog . . ???

by Terry Wassall -

Your Dreamweaver experience I think is very much to the point Derek. You may know that Warick University have set up a blogging system for all their staff and students (http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/). Their way of dealing with the control and privacy issue is very interesting by the way - a sort of self-policing thing that works although the occassional student gets banned from time to time. It is the Warick experience that made me interested in the possibilities for my students. To the point: students at Warwick, like ours at Leeds, have been able to set up personal web pages for many years now and, like Leeds, only a very small number bothered, the main obstacles being technological. As soon as blogs were available, thousands of students started 'publishing' on the web at Warwick. Of course in the meantime the whole FaceSpace phenomenon started too.

In reply to Ricky Carter

Re: New to blogging

by Barbara Dieu -
Hello Ricky,

Mathematics is not my strong area but I could definitely imagine myself blogging about it as it would help me make sense and reflect on my thinking process.

Darren Kuropatwa is a young American k12 Math blogger who has been moving and shaking in this area. Check out A Difference and ApCalculus.

Looking forward to having a glimpse of blogging through your perspective :-)
In reply to Ricky Carter

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Ricky's observations about the limitations inherent in some of the larger educational packages (Blackboard and WebCT) accords very much with my own experience. Although now, the new versions of these products are introducing a Blogging Tool it is nothing like the freedom and flexibility that can be created by bringing an external Blogging tool -such as LiveJournal or Wordpress- into the WebCT/Blackboard arena. Why is this so? Because LiveJournal (to use my own example) connects students between courses and even between Universities and with the wider community. My own students have connected up with students in HongKong (http://michaelgriffith.livejournal.com/52778.html) and with "Homeless" students who are doing specialized courses preparing them for entry to University (Here is a response to Anissa's journal from on-campus students- http://anissa-c.livejournal.com/4832.html). Blogging has become a wonderful tool for opening communications and breaking down walls. I don't believe that the new Blogging tools being built into Blackboard have this kind of power...
Thank you for your observations Ricky.

May I ask: what can you see the most important function of blogging for you and your students? How would you like it to be used?

Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: New to blogging

by Barbara Dieu -

For some reason, Michael,  I cannot open from school the links to Live Journal you have inserted in the Moodle. This is the message that appears:

Error Code: 502 Proxy Error. The ISA Server denied the specified Uniform Resource Locator (URL). (12202) IP Address: 10.1.0.100 Date: 13/02/2007 12:09:25 Server: beta.lyceepasteur.org Source: proxy

I also got an error message from home.

In reply to Barbara Dieu

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Barbara- can you list the links you are unable to access... I have put in so many now I am losing track. Perhaps you could also ask this question of Sylvia who is the driver behind our current technology.... we will get this sorted out... hate you to miss some of my "star" examples...
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Barbara Dieu

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Barbara:

Is this the link you were referring to:

http://mitchobrien.livejournal.com/2006/09/28/

It is working fine at this end????

Michael :-(
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: New to blogging

by Barbara Dieu -

I have tried clicking on it from inside the Moodle and also pasting it on the address bar in another window. I always get the message I posted above. Maybe my school restricts the access to Live Journal, which I doubt .

At home I could not open it either but do not remember whether the message was the same. I will look for an answer from the IT dept here at school and check it again at home tonight.

In reply to Barbara Dieu

502 Proxy Error

by Sylvia Currie -
Barbara, this appears to be a firewall issue but I'm checking with some colleagues who will really know what that error code is all about. If you find out something from your school IT folks let me know.
Sylvia
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: 502 Proxy Error

by Barbara Dieu -
Thanks Sylvia. The Live Journal links opened at home yesterday evening but they took a long time to load. This, added to my unstable connection in the past days, may have been the cause of "server not found" messages. I will check at school this afternoon with the IT dept.
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Rees -

I agree with Michael that the blogging tools built in to Blackboard/WebCT are severely limited. They are usually limited to the course in which they appear and are not open to all students and staff in the institution. This limits commenting, which should be one of the most important asepcts of successful blogging. Also I think a single blog, accessible throughout a degree, is a better place to record a student's overall study outcomes.

A single, public blog that students share with their peers, teachers, family and friends is the way to go.

Michael

In reply to Michael Rees

Re: New to blogging

by Heather Ross -
Michael,

I agree about a student's blog should be available to others outside of a specific course (at least open to the other students in the program) and should get them through the length of their program. Access limited to the length of a course is one of the many limitations of discussion boards within WebCT/Blackboard. I have students who will go through an entire program as a cohort and will take all of their courses together, yet they have a new discussion board for each course.
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: New to blogging

by Sarah Haavind -
Once again a comment of Heather's is my entry-point. Heather raises her frustration that she has students who will go through an entire program as a cohort and will take all of their courses together, yet they have a new discussion board for each course.

Wow -- I'm having a "shift" experience reading/walking the "new to blogging" pathway here -- a shift from familiar conversations where I recommend that online course instructors keep discussions manageable by dividing learners into groups of 7 or 8, rather than running whole group dialogues all the time...

to hearing many here talking about the limits of keeping course blogs within Bb or WebCT because of limited audience/collaborative opportunity (to the point of claims that those aren't even actual blogs anymore).

Heather's point is a bridge, in a sense, when she points out how individual discussion areas for separate courses are an inherent interruption in the community cohesiveness of a cohort moving through a program.

The box is opening...the egg is cracking...and a route into a more formal/informal model of learning is unfolding here...thanks everyone...
Sarah
In reply to Sarah Haavind

Re: New to blogging

by Paul Jablon -
Hi Sarah and Ricky et al.

I am a colleague of Sarah and Ricky's at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and I have no experience with blogging although anyone I know between the age of 18 and 30 does. I teach in the middle school program, sceince education, and also work at creating learning communities inside urban schools. I use Blackboard extensively, but have not utilized the new blogging feature yet.

My only possible synthesis insight from reading all of your posts that REALLY Iitillates me is that BLOGGING, as a number of people have noted, starts form the WHOLE person and then leads to the particular subject under discussion, whether that subject be generated by the class topic or by the individual. SInce blogs allow multimedia presentation of ideas, and hence personality, it greatly broadens the possibilities of expression and thus comprehension. (Now there's a run on sentence if I ever saw one.)

Rather than talking about BLOGS as singular (in a negative way) perhaps we should be speaking about them as STARTING from the personal, and mixed with other types of "forums" (inside and outside Bb) can create community where the rather "sterile" threads of Bb cannot.

Hmmmmm?

Paul Jablon
In reply to Paul Jablon

Re: New to blogging

by Derek Chirnside -
Paul, Hi, I wrongly attributed a comment from you in a recent post, I searched for holistic and wholistic but not 'whole' and never found this post.  Sorry.

Your learning communities, are they teachers or students or both?  Sounds interesting, very interesting.

Another way to express what you are saying is this: blogs can start from individual stories, and then go from there.  And this can be very enriching.

-Derek


In reply to Sarah Haavind

Re: New to blogging

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Sarah said: Wow -- I'm having a "shift" experience reading/walking the "new to blogging" pathway here -- a shift from familiar conversations where I recommend that online course instructors keep discussions manageable by dividing learners into groups of 7 or 8, rather than running whole group dialogues all the time...

I think that the two are different cases. To me, a discussion is a group discussion - much as you may have in a seminar for a face to face course. I would have a few more than 7 or 8 in an asynchronous group though - but probably not more then 20, depending on the nature of the discussion & also the level of engagement expected (e.g. if they are going to be assessed & have a minimum number of posts to make, then a lower number; if it's a board to ask questions about software they're learning to use, then more in the group - as it's more likely someone else will know the answer. )

However, I see a blog as a rather different case. Each blog belongs to a particular student. Yes, they like to get comments from each other & indeed, you may have asked them to do it for grades. However, they don't *have* to read them all, in the same way as you do for a discussion board.

I'd definitely advocate a single blog (per student) for the whole course (assuming that students can set permissions, so they can have areas that not everyone can see). Many of our students find it difficult to see that Unit A has direct relevance on Unit B. I try to encourage them to see that they can start to draw links between subjects through their blogs.
In reply to Sarah Haavind

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
I wan to come back to this issue about COMMUNITY COHESIVENESS raised so well by Sarah Haavind.
I know that in my experience one of the great thrills of using LiveJournal across all my Literature Units at Australian Catholic University (and outside it) is that LiveJournal Blogging allows students to become aware of what students in other courses are studying. They begin to swap notes for example about the similarities and differences between Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare....... so there is a greater sense of the wider subject they are working in, and they get excited about the prospect of what they are going to learn in subsequent semesters. Meantime students in more advanced courses have the luxury of sharing their knowledge and experience with younger students.... all in all it provides wonderful opportunities for "wall-cracking" experiences....

Here for instance is a real-life example of a second year blog on Wilde being followed by a third year blog on Shakespeare. To see this kind of creative interactivity happening is a real blast for me. It demonstrates that LiveJournal blogging is stimulating a real, interactive creativity and appreciation. Have a look and see what you think:

http://joshpentecost.livejournal.com/2006/05/18/
http://moshi-mosh.livejournal.com/2006/05/21/


Michael
In reply to Michael Rees

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Michael is drawing attention to an aspect of blogging that needs some more serious attention.
I like very much the way he returns to this idea of the blog being an on-going, ever expanding, record of a student's study.
In my own field, one of my students -Timb Hoswell (you can find a number of his contributions to this seminar)- drew attention to the fact that for him and some of his colleagues the blog could serve as a "Portfolio" of creative works (video poems, works of art and literary texts inspired by these....)...
So lying behind these ideas is notion that a blog is far more than a place for casual exchange, but is in fact a place for serious collections (of knowledge, of art works, of research etc.... )
I think this is a fascinating way to think about Blogs.....

I know in my own outline to students of what I expect from their blogs- and what they might expect from their blogs- I tend to promote simultaneously a number of different uses: Use it to clarify your thoughts about your reading, use it to project your life interests, use it to create a community with your peers, use it as a place to store your course notes.... so there are a multiplicity of uses... and maybe it is difficult for students to get a clear handle on all these possibilities simultaneously.... (sorry I am thinking aloud)...... but I think all these functions are legitimate and empowering... I am just thinking how they can all be neatly contained within the one student blog....

Now in relation to this there is one other issue that I have come up against that I think is very important and that is the reliability and permanence of a Blogging site for storage of art works, research or information....

I must confess when I look back at the blogs that I and my students have created over the last three years it is a huge storehouse of writing and experience.... what happens if LiveJournal folds.... what happens in ten years.... ??????

My recent solution to this... which I will be promoting with my students this year... is to invest in a free (or cheap) desktop "client" program (such as MacJournal or its PC equivalent) and do the blog from there and from there automatically upload it to LiveJournal... there are some limitations here however and that is that the Web interface allows for some HTML and gif and video creativity that is not so easily stored within a client desktop program... for instance you can't upload images or videos from MacJournal to LiveJournal... but you can be sure of keeping a copy of your text.......

Is this an issue that anyone else has had to consider???

Thank you Michael for triggering this series of questions...

Michael G
In reply to Michael Rees

Re: New to blogging

by Emma Duke-Williams -
We've only just got a server set up with Elgg, but what I'm hoping to do is to look at the linkages that are possible between Elgg & WebCT - so that students can login to WebCT - and have their details passed to Elgg, so, as far as the student is concerned, it's the same platform BUT - their Elgg blog is available in *all* their WebCT courses (if the link has been put in), and, depending on the way you've set it up, blogs can be seen outside the WebCT environment (i.e. outside the University).

Thinking about Corinne's question - which I've answered to an extent in the other thread; there's also ElggSpaces - where you can set up Elgg groups & control who can join. The only problem is they're currently upgrading & so closed to new users.
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Welcome Emma- thank you for telling us more about ElggSpaces... from a number of accounts this seems to be a very popular and functional Blogging client (agent?). In another strand I have illustrated how I set up LiveJournal within WebCT.... I think this is what you are indicating you have tried (are trying) with Elgg.

It would be good to compare notes on LiveJournal and Elgg to see whether there are any really dramatic differences.......

Anybody have experience of both Elgg and LJ????
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: New to blogging

by Emma Duke-Williams -
In another strand I have illustrated how I set up LiveJournal within WebCT.... I think this is what you are indicating you have tried (are trying) with Elgg.

I don't think it's quite what you've done. I suspect that you've done what I'm doing at the moment - a simple link - to another site (i.e. LiveJournal) that requires the students to login again to the new site.
If you have Elgg (rather than Elgg Spaces) installed locally, you can install a script into WebCT (and/ or Elgg, not sure of the technical details), that means that students don't have to re-log in. There are some screen shots on the Aperto site.

I've not really used LiveJournal, but I did find a big difference moving from Blogger to Elgg; primarily as far as granularity of posting goes.
From what you have said, Live Journal does let you have control over who can see posts, (i.e. a list of friends, or the world, or no-one). Blogger didn't have quite that granularity - you could password protect individual posts (but then you'd have to tell people the password), you could have draft/ private posts, or public ones.
Elgg, on the other hand, lets you have many groups - so you can make a particular post available to a particular group.

Elgg lets you upload files (any sort) - but I don't imagine that LiveJournal is any different on that count.

ElggSpaces - is a hosted instance of Elgg - so you can set up your own community. If you do that (as I have just done), you can specify who can register / moderate the registrations etc.,

One other thing that Elgg does well, which WordPress (which I have as my "main" blog) is that it can embed RSS feeds as posts - so you only have to post once. So, if students have another blog, they can combine them if they choose.
Most of my posts are made on http://www.tech.port.ac.uk/staffweb/duke-wie/blog - and are then mirrored on http://elgg.net/emmadw/weblog - (which is where I have group blogs for my students etc.)
The one I set up in Elgg spaces was for some Multimedia students - I've got the educational technology students to use Elgg.net -so that they can start to interact with other ed. technologists.

That's the other thing I prefer about Elgg over Blogger - the fact that most of the people in the community are doing things of interest to my students.
It is supported by advertising (luckily pretty unobtrusive), and if you have adblock in Firefox you can hide it. A local install would clearly have no adverts. However, they're not nearly as obvious as those in mySpace!
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: New to blogging

by Terry Wassall -

Hi Emma

I posted on elgg and elgg space in the 'blog programs' topic - I must find out how to link to a specific message in another topic.

What do you have in mind for your Elgg Space as a matter of interest?

I have started an Elgg Space (the Elgg SandBox) to support some Web 2.0 workshops (hands-on on campus) we are running over the next few weeks. In addition it is to give colleagues already using Elgg at Leeds a chance to see and explore the latest version of Elgg compared with the early rather clunky version we are using on campus. In my other post on this I invited anyone who is interested to have a look and play if they wish. It is open to public self-registration. As you will already know, users can always delete their experiments.

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
HI Terry- I can't access your Elgg SandBox... could you check the address? Many thanks Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: New to blogging

by Terry Wassall -

Hi Michael

The url got the scope url addedd to the front for some reason. Try http://learnnet.elggspaces.com

You will see a link to register under the log in boxes. Nothing is going on there at the moment as I will start using it in my workshops in March. It is just an area to play with Elgg and try stuff out. For blogging with Elgg 'seriously', or just to see what is going on there,I would recommend registering in due course wth http://elgg.net

This is the Elgg 'mothership' blog and is what I think Emma was referring to when she said

That's the other thing I prefer about Elgg over Blogger - the fact that most of the people in the community are doing things of interest to my students."

But I might be wrong.

Once you have logged in you will see a link to "what people are saying right now". This will list all recent posts (both of them!). The main menu bar at the top will give access to your own blog. I will be uploading a Word doc there soon with brief instructions on setting up a profile and getting started but you will find many similarities with LiveJournal I suspect.

Good luck!

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Terry- thank you for that. Looks excellent and I love the wide connection with educators around the world. So I have a question- which I have asked elsewhere, but will ask you as well.

I have a project before me to start a "space" in which a group of us dealing with Higher Education for the homeless and disadvantaged (http://www.abc.net.au/rn/streetstories/stories/2007/1831012.htm) want to share and discuss strategies and experiences.
Would you recommend an Elgg Blog to carry this out, or do you think some kind of Wiki might be more suitable... any thoughts would be welcome on this...
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: New to blogging

by Terry Wassall -

I think either would do the job OK. If the project is ongoing and has prospects of developing into something beyond the life of the immediate project then something like an Elgg Space would do it. All individuals involved would automatically get a personal blog but one of more community multiple author blogs may be appropriate depending on the tasks and subprojects. I'm sure you could do this in LiveJournal as well. But it might be worth thinking about a wiki if the idea is that at some point jointly authored documents or reports will be produced. Each document could be a seperate wiki page, earlier drafts can always be rolled back to if required and the 'talk' page attached to each page could be where discussion could take place. If document production is part of the project this might be easier than uploading ever more recent versions to a blog file store.

Or, you could use a community blog and start a Google docs account for document production linked to from the blog. It probably means having a fairly clear idea of objectives and outcomes in order to choose.

In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: New to blogging

by Tamara Gardner -
Hi Emma!

Two questions:

1. If you had Elgg imbedded into WebCT etc, would you still be able to access it without going through WebCT, and will you still be able to access it when the course is finished?

2. How do I get adblock and how do I turn it on?!

On my journal I have opted to be more restricted in the layouts that I can choose from, as I do not wish for my blog to just become some site that is advertising...

Alot of poeple (and even gmail!) do advertise though!

Thanks,
Tamara
Second Year ACU Student
In reply to Tamara Gardner

Re: New to blogging

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Tamara asked:
From Re: New to blogging by tamara on 15 February 2007 18:17:00:

1. If you had Elgg imbedded into WebCT etc, would you still be able to access it without going through WebCT, and will you still be able to access it when the course is finished?

2. How do I get adblock and how do I turn it on?!

Answers:
1: As far as I understand it, you can set it up so that the only entry to Elgg is via WebCT - or you can set it up so that they are both separate & you can access Elgg without going via WebCT first. I'll be pressing for the latter.

2: Adblock is a plugin for Firefox (I'm using Adblock Plus). It lets you hide images etc., from specified domains.
I've taken some screen shots for you:
As you can see, the Elgg adverts are pretty unobtrusive anyway; the PC Answers ones - are even more obvious than they seem, as they're often animated flash ones.

I can fully understand you not wanting to have adverts all over your site!

Emma

In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: New to blogging

by Tamara Gardner -
Thankyou :-)

Pluged in and ready for adfree internet!

Tamara :-D
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Emma- I am clearly going to have to take a closer look at Elgg. Most of the features you mention are - I think- in LiveJournal... there is just a question of terminological differences: In LiveJournal we have a "Friends" list which displays an automatic RSS Feed page of every student's latest blog (as long as they have made you a friend) so that gives ready and immediate access to what is happening in the student community (although I must admit it is hard keeping up with 200 of them!!!)....

One thing I didn't quite understand was when you spoke of "That's the other thing I prefer about Elgg over Blogger - the fact that most of the people in the community are doing things of interest to my students."
So is this a community "outside" your group of students that you have linked into your ELGG community?

And one other minor question. What do you mean specifically by "granularity"... a lovely word... but how does it apply here....
thanks Emma
In reply to Michael Rees

Re: New to blogging

by Emma Duke-Williams -
We've only just got a server set up with Elgg, but what I'm hoping to do is to look at the linkages that are possible between Elgg & WebCT - so that students can login to WebCT - and have their details passed to Elgg, so, as far as the student is concerned, it's the same platform BUT - their Elgg blog is available in *all* their WebCT courses (if the link has been put in), and, depending on the way you've set it up, blogs can be seen outside the WebCT environment (i.e. outside the University).

Thinking about Corinne's question - which I've answered to an extent in the other thread; there's also ElggSpaces - where you can set up Elgg groups & control who can join. The only problem is they're currently upgrading & so closed to new users.
In reply to Ricky Carter

Re: New to blogging

by Andrew Read -

My name is Andrew Read and I am from the University of Canberra.  Canberra is the Australian national capital and is 300km south-west of Sydney.  It is both hotter and dryer than Sydney - see Michael Griffith's comments on Sydney's weather.

I seem to be unusual in this community in that I am from a Business School, an accountant in fact.  I am teaching final year undergraduates in accounting.

I am yet to use blogs either personally or with students but have been investigating them for some time.  The experiences mentioned here are giving me the confidence to go for it.

I have investigated the different types of platforms and have concluded that while you can make many different platforms perform the functions, learning management software such as WebCT does not do blogs very easily.  It is better to use software which has, as its core, the functions you wish to use.  It is likely to do the job better and easier and less likely to create hair-wrenching crises part-way through the semester.

I look forward to other comments on this forum detailing peoples' experiences with blogging and would be particularly interested to see any detailed comparison between the different blogging systems available.

In reply to Andrew Read

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Welcome fellow countryman Andrew!
I think my experiences with Blogging- also relatively new (into my third year) can help provide some kind of framework for what you are trying.
We too have WebCT, and as you may have gathered from a number of my entries, while I found/find WebCT excellent in its broad functionality for holding a course together, it lacks some personal dimensions which an external blogging tool can provide.

Now I chose LiveJournal for reasons that you can read about in my introduction (under The Value of Blogging in Higher Education) and I built it INTO WebCT so that- as far as students know- it actually looks like part of WebCT.... they only gradually learn that it is a tool imported form outside. That of course is one of the brilliant things about WebCT/Blackboard... that you can do this sort of thing....... simply create a space within WebCT (call it Journalling- or whatever) and set up your WebLinks to the blogging provider.... also give the students an html list of the urls of others in your class... and bob's your uncle - as they say where we two dwell -down under.....

But I would be glad to help you or anyone with further details of how to do this.... Here is a snapshot of my WebCT page with LiveJournal built into it... see attachment.

Thanks for your questions Andrew


Michael
In reply to Ricky Carter

Re: New to blogging

by Corinne Brooks -
I am a special needs maths teacher in Birmingham Uk. I have never used blogs. I have always seen them as someone's online diary - often full of stuff that is irrelevant. i hope to be able to change that opinion and see some useful examples of how blogs can be used.

Having been thinking about this since my mailbox filled up overnight i'm thinking that if my special needs students (mainly autistic) can express themselves better to a computer than to a person then blogs could be a useful tool in knowing how students are feeling/reacting to lessons etc.. It would also help the time element - where you can't always sit and talk to each student individually - but each student could write a blog entry at the end of a lesson or day which I could read after school.

I haven't caught up with all the posts here yet - but is there a good (free?) blogging program which could be used in this way - accessible to teachers on a school intranet but not necessarily accessible to the www at large?
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: New to blogging

by Claude Almansi -
Hi Corinne,

I have answered your last question in the Blog Programs thread. But on second thoughts, you might wish to avail yourself of the Wikispaces 100,000 Wikis in the Classroom offer to make a private wiki. Then you could make a page for each of your students, make a list of their links on the home page. And they could use the discussion for their page as a blog, and the page itself for set work etc. This way you would be able to follow everything through a single RSS feed (for changes in all pages and discussions), or modulate through several feeds (just pages, just discussions, feeds for separate pages etc...). Besides, you can back up all pages (but not discussions) in one click from the admin interface.

Best

Claude
In reply to Claude Almansi

On about Wikispaces: Affordances and Limitations

by Paul Beaufait -
Claude makes a remarkable suggestion that Corrine "make a private wiki." In good fun, after reading assertions that a private blog may never be a real purist's blog (and vice-versa?): Doesn't that beg the question whether a private wiki is really a wiki?

Funning aside: She also suggests creating an individual wikispace page for each student, listing their pages on the home page, having students present evidence of work accomplished on their own pages, and allowing students (and perhaps their peers) to use the page specific discussion pages like blogs. Then she suggests that "you [the educator] would be able to follow everything through a single RSS feed..., or modulate through several feeds...."

Indeed educators could aggregate and filter the lot onto a wikispaces homepage. Doing so might be better than listing students' individual pages, because all students could benefit from a one-stop overview, rather than having to browse their peers' pages one link at a time!

derekc Though blog-like wiki appendages such as tabbed discussion forums on wikispace pages might fulfill a quick, free and relatively easy solution to class- or group-constrained interaction, they may lack a number of blog-specific features, or dimensions, that Derek confirms and illustrates in their absence earlier in this thread (WebCT Blogs; Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 12:10 PM). That is, blogs rolls (or other sidebar widgets of choice) - definitely not available, and labels or tags - which could be replaced by keywords in wikspace discussions.

Just how well wikispace discussion pages accomodate hypertext mark-up, I don't know. This is a common limitation in comments on blogs. However, should students wish (or their teachers require them) to add specific types of mark-up and RSS feeds to their wikispace pages; they can do so, can't they?

Cheers, Paul


In reply to Ricky Carter

Re: New to blogging

by Ava Dean -

Sorry if this is the wrong place to post.  Didn't feel like my post deserved a whole new thread.  I'm a lurker from Merritt, BC.  I've never blogged ro even read anyone's blog before this course, although I journal regularly and have my students journal in their social work courses.  I was interested in the comments about whether blogging can be public or private and the ones about having students' blogs just be available to instructor.  The concept of public blogging fascinates me in many ways, not least of all how it will change future research on particular historical periods post-blogging.  (I also teach social work research).

Thanks to everyone.  I'm using this opportunity to be a leech and follow the links provided by other participants in order to build up a basic body of knowledge.

In reply to Ava Dean

Re: New to blogging

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Ava- there is plenty of room for leaches in this forum... we are all relatively new to the game- so no need to be apologetic. You will find a whole lot of material on Public and Private issues in the thread called Public and Private... so go over there have a look and tell us what you think....
I myself as an educator tend to encourage my students to share their life stories with the rest of the group... but I am hearing that I could be on dangerous ground doing this.... but so far the dangers have not stopped me. I love to make students feel that their own experiences are worth talking about and worth sharing.... love to hear your thoughts on this... but perhaps put them in the public vs private thread
Cheers
Michael
By the Way... I spent two weeks in BC 3 years ago and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape... Vancouver.... Victoria... Galliano..... names for me to conjure with!
:-D
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: New to blogging

by Barbara Dieu -
Do not know exactly well where to send this so pasting  a mail I got from Teachers Teaching Teachers. I thought the content would interest some of you.
Bee

"This week, we've invited several National Writing Project (NWP) technology liaisons to join us to talk about how they manage Content Management Systems (CMS's) for their local sites, schools, and classrooms. We'd like to discuss and the possibilities of using the DurpalEd profile that Bill Fitzgerald has recently been piloting, and is threatening to release within weeks.

This discussion, which can get pretty abstract at times, will be grounded in real decisions, and these decisions go beyond a consideration of the pluses and minuses of particular CMS's. We will present a case study during this Wednesday's webcast on EdTechTalk.com (6pm PDT / 9pm EDT / 1am GMT ( global times). In order to model the CMS decision-making process, the teachers facilitating a summer institute for NWP teachers will make a decision. Before the end of the webcast we'll decide which type of CMS to use in Tech Matters 2007. By listening in -- and/or participating -- perhaps you'll get some insights into similar decisions about what tools to use with your educational network, school, or classroom. We'd love to hear about your decision-making process as well.

We will be discussing Tech Matters, a four-day "invitational institute [for] two-person teams from ten local writing project sites [that will be held July 17 - 22, 2007 in Chico, CA. In Tech Matters, we will "explore the intersections of technology, teaching, and writing in support of their local site goals.... [By] "engaging with a variety of tools and forums, each team will have ample opportunity to consider strategies for using technology to facilitate the work of its site. Participants will engage in a process of inquiry as they consider these technologies both in relation to their local site and in connection with their personal teaching goals.( NWP - 2007 Technology Matters Institute ).
In the four previous institutes we used a threaded discussion board, a MOO, a wiki, a blog, a CMS, a set of shared Google Documents, shared del.icio.us and flickr tags... all sorts of online spaces where we could all collaborate. We need such spaces again this year, and more. This year we intend for our online presence to have a dual purpose.

The Tech Matters 07 site will be for participants to use internally as they explore their thinking. In addition we will use this site as a platform upon which we can increase our public conversations with former Tech Matters participants, the Tech Liaison Network--as well as other networks--of the National Writing Project, and the ed-tech community in general.  We intend this to be a read/write, multi-media space where we capture the experience of Tech Matters participants and share it with others, and where others contribute to our learning experiences during the summer and, perhaps, after.

Will Joomla work? Maybe we should use James Farmer's EduBlogs or our own WordPress installation. How about using an elgg? Or will Bill Fitzgerald's DrupalEd site be available? We want to use something that will work for us this summer, but we are also aware that the site might live on beyond the summer, and that it might be looked at as a model for tech liaisons in Writing Projects where leaders want to experiment with using a site during a Summer Institute and into the year. We want to use tools that the participants can take home to use with their local sites, schools, and classrooms.

It's important to think of this decision as one that goes beyond choosing a particular software, although we do probably have to make a choice. (Or do we? May we could have different versions on different platforms.That 's probably unmanageable.) We need to choose which development community we want to get more involved with. For example, Bill Fitzgerald is offering more than a DrupalEd profile. He's also suggesting a way for developers like him to work with a small set of Writing Project tech liaisons who would be able to learn enough to bring manage a Drupal site for their local sites, networks, schools, and classrooms. It's the vision of community and on-going support that we making a decision about as much as it is the particular software being used at this time in that community.

On this webcast, we hope to bring together several National Writing Project tech liaisons with Bill Fitzgerald to talk about what we know we need, and even about what we don't yet know we need to bring teachers and students at our local sites the tools they need to teach 21st Century literacies.

Join Bill Fitzgerald, Paul Allison, Lee Barber, Kevin Hodgson, Karen McComas, Will Banks, Eric Heofler, Troy Hicks, and Christina Cantrill... and many more... this Wednesday evening on EdTechTalk.com (6pm PDT / 9pm EDT / 1am GMT ( global times).

See you then!
Paul Allison