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

Examples and Resources

Examples and Resources

by Heather Ross -
Number of replies: 14
I didn't notice a wiki set up yet for this forum, but I wanted to point you to some great resources and examples of blogs in education.

Kathy Cassidy is a teaching in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. She is doing some amazing work. This is her class blog.

Edublogs provides free blogs for teachers and K-12 students.

Alec Couros has a wonderful wiki called Digital Literacy and Emerging Educational Technology. This is the page on blogs. Here you'll learn what blogs are and find links to examples and resources for blogging.

Finally, if you're doing anything with Web 2.0 in your classrooms, Will Richardson's blog is a must to follow. His book is also a wonderful resource.

While these links only scratch the surface of what's out there I think they're a great place to start.
In reply to Heather Ross

thank you for these...

by Sarah Haavind -
Hi everybody! Great topic, thank you Michael, Sylvia and Scope.

And thank you Heather, for sharing some models. I hope others will share additional models -- I know I can really learn from them, and I assume others will find them helpful as well.

I have struggled with the contrast between the use of threaded discussions, which are generally private and protected behind passwords, for "half-baked ideas" and emergent thinking. Blogs, on the other hand, seem not only public  but to have a life of their own beyond the control of the blogger him or herself. That can be fine, I understand, but I wonder about setting my students up to be represented by the half-baked ideas they might have in the course of learning challenging material. I'd be curious to hear from those of you who work in higher education and have considered this issue.

Sarah
In reply to Sarah Haavind

Re: thank you for these...

by Alec Couros -
Sarah, if you are looking for a hybrid model of sorts, there are types of closed-blogging environments. The newest is Vox. Vox allows you to setup a blog, and then select and control your readership. This could be useful for courses where you are studying sensitive material or are concerned about students revealing "too much of themselves".

I really like the open educational blogging model, but I can see the reasoning for a closed-blogging community from a course perspective.

Alec
In reply to Alec Couros

Re: thank you for these...

by Terry Wassall -

One of the reasons we are using Elgg at my Uni is (and I am sure other platforms can do this as well) that the access control to posts and files is very fine-grained. A post can be completely private to you (useful for the half-baked, brain dumps and draft posts), fully internet public, and everything in between. Individual posts can be restricted to just, say, a PhD student and her supervisor, or members of the knitting club. And posts that were originally posted as private can be opened up to the extent required at any time (and vice versa).

I like to make as many of my posts fully public as possible. However, we have had to turn off public commenting as we haven't solved the spam commenting scourge yet.

In reply to Alec Couros

Re: thank you for these...

by Michael Griffith -
Alec- thank you for bringing this issue to our attention.
This is one of the main concerns people- and students- have when they first start blogging: will the whole world see my work????
And while some find this debilitating to begin with, they soon find it empowering when they know that they have a ready-made audience at hand.... certainly my students "grow" through the audiences they know are out there.

However what I think you are referring to in Vox may also be built into LiveJournal. Correct me if we are talking about something different Alec- In LiveJournal you have the option to make any of your Blogs "Private"... so for example a student could keep "Private" course notes in his/her blog space, along with public blogs.... and students also have the ability in LiveJournal to select a specific set of friends who can only see particular blogs.... so when one gets used to LiveJournal one does in fact have quite a considerable control over who sees what.....

Are we talking on the same wave-length Alec? Thank you for your contribution.
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Sarah Haavind

Re: thank you for these...

by Michael Griffith -
Sarah is raising a very important point here. I think it is this (correct me if I am wrong Sarah): can the casual and informal reponses that blogging encourages fairly represent the kind of sophisticated intelligent learning that we hope they might be receiving from their studies? In other words is blogging watering down their intellect etc... I must admit I have a number of my colleagues who view my acitivities with suspicion because of thoughts such as these.
Two things I would like to say here. Firstly, have a look at what Jennifer Sullivan has said in her new thread "Blogging From a Student's Perspective". Jennifer is a High Distinction level student in her formal written work and class contributions and yet for her blogging does not represent some kind of diminishment of academic rigour - rather an enhancement or an extension.
Secondly, I look at the way some of my less articulate students have used blogging as a tool to get inside difficult poetry and express their understanding through their own vernacular. I have been amazed how relaxing the demands of academic discourse has literally freed students into a new appreciation of often quite difficult texts. To give you an example from one of my recent third year students (studying the age of Shakespeare). Here is Pete Tucker discussing Marvell's wonderful poem "The Garden". This is Pete's take on the poem; please go and have a sticky-beak (as we say over here down under: http://petetucker.livejournal.com/2006/05/11/
Well have you read it? I think this is brilliant, inspired and takes us to the heart of some of the key issues in the poem.
Now Pete was a retiring, somewhat inarticulate kind of a bloke when he first joined the class. Through his contributions to LiveJournal over three years he has become something of a cult figure amongst his peers, creating a zany kind of laid-back person for himself and at the same time developing in himself and his readers a real appreciation for the contemporary value of literary texts... even those from 400 years ago. Thank you Pete... and thank you Blogging!

Please if others have similar examples we would love to hear them.

You see lying behind Sarah's question and this example I have given is the deeper question that I think we are all deeply interested in, and that is
DOES THIS NEW TECHNOLOGY GENUINELY HELP TO FREE OUR EXPRESSION, OUR UNDERSTANDING, OUR CREATIVE RESPONSES.....??? AND HOW DOES IT DO THIS?? AND IF IT DOESN'T WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE IT HAPPEN FOR ME OR THOSE UNDER MY TUTELAGE ????? 8-) 8-)

So I hope I got Sarah's question right in the first place and haven't simply used it as an excuse to showcase one of my "rustic" geniuses! Sorry Pete... but I am sure you won't mind this blast!
Cheers
Michael

:-D :-D
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: thank you for these...

by Terry Wassall -

"Sarah is raising a very important point here. I think it is this (correct me if I am wrong Sarah): can the casual and informal reponses that blogging encourages fairly represent the kind of sophisticated intelligent learning that we hope they might be receiving from their studies?"

There is a growing interest in how informal and vicarious learning takes place and how we might 'exploit' it. Lets face it, in many ways our students were accomplished learners long before they got to us or even into formal education. In some ways formal education is an artifical variant of learning. I am not a Star Trek fan but the sort of learning that takes place in a Star Trek fanzine on-line community is impressive an real regardless of the content.

In reply to Sarah Haavind

Re: thank you for these...

by Barbara Dieu -
I have been using Wordpress.com as the basic platform with my classes. It offers static and dynamic pages, several privacy options and different authorship levels (see my post in blogged out)
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: Examples and Resources

by Sylvia Currie -
I took notice of the suggestion that there might be a Wiki set up to accompany this discussion. Thanks, Heather! I used your headings as a way to organize it. It's something to get us started.

When you enter the Schedule Seminar Discussions area you'll see the Wiki Blogging to Enhance Learning Experiences: Examples and Resources below the forum under "Current Discussion".

I also want to add that I've been collecting SCoPE member blogs into one place so we can see at a glance what SCoPE members are currently blogging about. I hope I can keep up! I'm using Technorati because it sorts by "freshness" by default.
http://technorati.com/faves/Community

To help with this project I have a request. If you have a blog, add it to SCoPE member blogs directory. It's located on the SCoPE main page, and coincidently was also suggested by Heather awhile back! I'll sweep through there periodically and add new entries to Technorati SCoPE Community faves.

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Examples and Resources

by Michael Griffith -
Sylvia and Heather are raising another very important sub-topic that we may decide to take into stream of its own. What are the key differences between Blogs and Wikis and how do their functions help to give distinctive shapes to the kinds of discourse that are possible?

Answering this question really requires people to speak who have experienced both media and have had a taste of their distinctiveness. It is perhaps a bit like the difference between using charcoal and oil paints to produce an image? And both charocal and oil paints can produce fabulous, arresting, creatively brilliant images... but they are inevitably different....

So how are Blogs and Wikis different? I mean we know the basic differences, but what do these differences allow, prevent, produce, impede...... would be lovely to see this line/ thread take off......
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Examples and Resources

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -
I think Blogs and Wiki's are very different. Blogs are like a diary/journal where entries are organized by days. Wiki's are like a webpage with multiple editors, maybe more like a filing system that is constantly updated.
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Examples and Resources

by Michael Griffith -
Sylvia and Heather are raising another very important sub-topic that we may decide to take into stream of its own. What are the key differences between Blogs and Wikis and how do their functions help to give distinctive shapes to the kinds of discourse that are possible?

Answering this question really requires people to speak who have experienced both media and have had a taste of their distinctiveness. It is perhaps a bit like the difference between using charcoal and oil paints to produce an image? And both charocal and oil paints can produce fabulous, arresting, creatively brilliant images... but they are inevitably different....

So how are Blogs and Wikis different? I mean we know the basic differences, but what do these differences allow, prevent, produce, impede...... would be lovely to see this line/ thread take off......
Cheers
Michael :o) :o)
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: Examples and Resources

by Michael Griffith -
Heather has provided an excellent bag of resources here. I loved especially Kathy Cassidy's class blog. The effective animated images is something my students have been working towards slowly but Kathy's are especially effective. It is the tricks and devices that make your blog so cool that are really important to students. They hunt far and wide for tricks to make things like this happen.:-P

So the question arising here is: Can we compile a list of Beaut Blogging Tools that will help our students (and ourselves) become brilliantly creative bloggers.

I will start the list with:

Photobucket (http://photobucket.com/): join this and find an easy way to upload still images into your blog. Recently this has been amplified by being able to add video images into your blog.

Hope this list gets off the ground! Hope Kathy Blogs in and tells us how she got those fabulous images in her classroom blog to work. Her pupils must think she is a magician... or did they do it themselves?????

Cheers
Michael. 8-)
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Examples and Resources

by Larry Hull -
I've no interest. I'm drowning is messages. How do I get off this list?

And how did I get on?
In reply to Larry Hull

Managing forum subscriptions (posts by email) in SCoPE

by Sylvia Currie -
Larry, I rescued you from drowning in email messages! :-) I sent a note via email (probably just what you wanted -- more email!)

It's thrilling that this seminar discussion is so active! Understandably, some participants are finding that their current setting for forum subscriptions aren't working for them. Just in case others need a tip for managing email volume, one way to read along without a filling up your email inbox is to change your preferences in your profile to digest. Here's how:

- Click on your name anywhere in SCoPE. This will take you to your profile
- Select the "edit" tab
- Select one of the daily email options beside the "Email digest type" pull-down menu.
- Scroll down to click the "update profile" button.

This will give you a single email message per day.

Hope this helps! If you want other options don't hesitate to contact me: scurrie@sfu.ca