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

Blogged out!

Blogged out!

by Alec Couros -
Number of replies: 9
One of my students has recently expressed how she feels "blogged out" as several of her courses require blogs, and as well, she is managing student blogs (as a preservice teachers). It becomes overwhelming for students at times, and I think this is an important point. I think it has been said somewhere else in one of these topics, but this is where I think the "one-blog across courses" / "comprehensive eportfolio" is an important consideration.

Here is her post.

Additionally, I thought I would explain my blogging assignment, and how I handle blogging in my course.

- See blogging assignment description and rubric here.
- Students use a blog tool of their choice (usually Blogger or edublogs.org), then I subscribe to all of their feeds, and share out the feeds through my Google Reader account. See all student feeds (+ a couple of others).
- Students can also see my Google Reader starred items. Whenever, I see a post of interest that would benefit students, I star it, and they are able to see it in this feed.
- I have also used the free Suprglu service to splice together some of my favorite news sources so they can see them all as one feed. In the past, I have done a similar thing but instead, shared my OPML file with my students.

So many ways of doing this, and really, no need for a standard blog or CMS. RSS readers/splicers can usually do the trick. Additionally, Yahoo! Pipes looks like a really promising service.
In reply to Alec Couros

Re: Blogged out!

by Michael Griffith -
Alec has provided some wonderful new insights into what is possible with Bloggs and associated tools.
Thank you Alec for sharing all this.

I think the "blogged out" experience is something that I have had to deal with also... but in my case it is not because students have blogs to do in other subject units, but it is because I have been too demanding in my weekly formal requirements. Some students thrive on this, others can't cope. So this year I have relaxed by requirements... and I am hoping this flexibility will allow the high achievers to fly and soften the demand for the plodders (see attached document- all comments welcome!).

The blogging assignment description and rubric you provide is very detailed. Do you simply circle the box for the level achieved in each area?

When you talk about "This feed" are you saying that you have a number of different feeds within your blog. Are you filtering certain contributions into your starred item list? Any additional explanations as to how you set this up would be very helpful to us all.

Tell us also how Suprglu works - and where you get it: what a fabulous outcome. I can see why students would find this all very stimulating.

Thank you Alec.
Cheers
Michael :-) B-)
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blogged out!

by Alec Couros -
re: Rubric - What I usually do is check where I think the students are at, but usually add another line underneath each category and give some qualitative feedback as to why I felt the students satisfied or did not satisfy the requirements for each. I see the rubric simply as a guideline. I also point them to Richardson's list of "what blogging is" (link) although I don't 100% agree with his analysis.

re: Clarification of feeds - Each student has a blog, some existing, some new for the course. I gather these blogs, subscribe to each in Google Reader, and put them under the same tag (folder). Then, in Google Reader, you can share any particular tag (folder). Google Reader will give you a public link, and then students can subscribe to this single mega-link. This will save them the time of having to subscribe to each blog individually. They are expected to read each other, comment to each other.

I also share my "starred" links. Basically, as I read my (literally) 100's of sources each day, every time I see an article of interest, I star it. Students are also given this "starred" list. Basically, it's like creating a course bibliography on the go, as the course progresses. They get to read the news "as it happens".

As for SuprGlu, this is a tool that allows you splice a number of feeds into a single feed. In a sense, this is what you can do with Google Reader, but there are subtle differences.

I hope that helps.
In reply to Alec Couros

Re: Blogged out!

by Kelly Christopherson -
Alec,

I finally recognized your name from your blog - it's on my reading list.

I know how your student feels, I got to that point myself. I realized that one can only handle a few blogs at a time. I've learned to schedule time to check my reader, use Suprglu and Pageflakes. I'm now looking at Google homepage and using google Notebook to try to limit the number of tools that I have since I have way too many tools that I am trying. I've come to a point where I need to make some decisions and just go with what I have.

I have reduced my blogs from 7 to 4 which is pretty good. One is a professional one www.kwhobbes.edublogs.org and the other 3 are for specific information - school, family and pd type discussions. I've also decide that this will be my last online discussion for awhile as one can get overzealous with all that is available.

I believe that is one area that we, as teachers and schools, will need to look at in greater detail - use of time/time management. With the explosion of technology, we are noticing that it is affecting some of our students as they get caught up in its use and are not spending time sleeping or working. We've even had parents consult with us regarding the impact that it is having on their children. Heck, as an adult, I really must watch myself as I can easily get lost in the WoW or SL for hours. Sometimes it's more than blogged out - it's technology used out.
From your student's view, sounds like everyone has jumped on the blog bandwagon without truly doing the work to see how it works with their course. How often have we seen that happen? (powerpoint presentations anyone!) Thanks for the reminder that we have to be judicious with the use of any tool.
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Blogged out!

by Alec Couros -
Hi Kelly,
You're on mine too. It's interesting how often we read so quickly that we forget to put the person in context. At least that's often my case. I think I got you on my list via Dean Shareski. I remember kwhobbes ... but I didn't go out to seek an associated name. Now I'll remember.

It just goes to show, the idea of "small tools loosely connected" can apply to people as well.

Thanks for the connection.
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blogged out!

by Barbara Dieu -
I started using Wordpress blogs with my high school students last year. You can have a look at a whole year 10th grade EFL blogging here
and this year's blogs in the making .

Michael, you asked me why I am using Wordpress and how I use the static and dynamic pages it offers. Just like Elgg, Wordpress offers different privacy levels for different posts , posts under password, private posts, drafts
and allows multiple users with different functions (administrator, editor,author and contributor)

The static pages are used for the About Me page (which seldom changes much), for the year evaluation and this year students will be also posting links to papers and compositions they choose to constitute their writing porfolio. Another student has asked me whether she can post her poems there, which is also a perfect place to collect them as it also offers the comment function so people will be able to react to them.

The dynamic pages are the blog itself, and here the students post according to their own interests. I introduce them to various social tools, with which they experiment throughout the year. We have used the 43 trio (things, places and people), Flickr, Community Walk, BloglinesDel.icio.us and Suprglu. It usually takes about 3 to 4 classes to explain the mechanics of the blog and open the different accounts.

You will notice that most personal accounts to these tools are linked from the student blogs under the Category My Portfolio.

As English is a foreign language for them, I also suggest links to dictionnaries online (Wordreference and Thesaurus) and podcasting sites they can listen to at home.

I have tried to assess them formally using rubrics but do not feel this has worked well and I almost went crazy with 80 blogs to correct. I gave up on this and assess them more holistically. After a month, I collect the most salient mistakes, give a class revising the main points and ask them to check their posts and correct them. Only then I give a mark, based mostly on organization of ideas, use of more complex structures and vocabulary and content. Many times I help them in class, looking over their shoulder and asking them to rephrase.

For the year evaluation, I gave them a plan to follow (describe the different tools you have used, their function, your impressions and suggestions for the following year or classes to come)

I have used Flickr mostly in experiential activities, during which the students participated in the choice of headers for the Dekita site and engaged in conversation with the photographer as they were interested in finding more about him. The students were so engaged in this that they took their own photos during the holidays a month later and some joined different groups with whom they communicate. I have shown them how and why to use tags and we discussed copywright and the Creative Commons License.

My 12th grade students participated with me in the Mentor Young Caucasus Women  project on the topic “Foreign languages, identity and intercultural competence" by posting on their own blogs their personal narratives.

Although I have not made any research on this, I noticed that those who did a year blogging tend to be less dependent and more self-directed. They  know where to search for extra material to link and find people to read and comment on. They also try to polish their writing by looking for better words in the dictionnary and often volunteer to help their peers.

In reply to Alec Couros

Re: Blogged out!

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Oh, I kno w exactly what she means by "blogged out".
It's something that does worry me, if we have more staff getting students to blog. I think that it's quite important for students to be able to use blogs to reflect on their own learning, and that, to me, means a single blog for all the courses they're doing.

If a teacher requires that they post about subject "x", then I think that it's important that they can set the blog so that the relevant lecturer can see the relevant postings, but the student can restrict that particular lecturer from seeing other posts, should they so choose.

I personally am not sure that if a student has 3 or 4 different blogs, possibly only running for a semester for a particular unit, that they can really benefit and get the many advantages of reflection over time.

That's one of the problems with Elgg. While it would be entirely possible for a student to have several groups (say, English, Geography and History), if the requirement was, say that the student has to post 6 posts for the whole Geography group, then all the Geography teacher would see beside a post would be "restricted". She wouldn't know if that restriction was for the whole Geography group, just her, or some other grouping entirely. The *student* would know who they'd restricted the post to, but the teacher wouldn't.

From my own point of view, I tend to post to a WordPress blog, and I have a number of Elgg blogs that pick up the posts I've made via RSS & combine them. I can then make a few posts just on the Elgg blog, when they are specific to that particular blog.
In reply to Alec Couros

Re: Blogged out!

by Frederica-Azania Clare -

Hi!

From Frederica Azania Clare.  Check this out: "Better than Blogging?"

Invite to Boston-area online facilitators

Posted by: "Steven Clift" slc@publicus.net   netclift

Fri Feb 16, 2007 12:42 pm (PST)

\n\n
\n
\nCome on along and watch me take on the "popular kids" of the Internet with
\ntheir soapbox blogs and defend two-way dialogue via online forums based
\nequality of position. :-)
\n
\nSteve
\n
\nPlease pass this announcement on to those you know in the Boston area. If
\nyou are from outside the Harvard community, come on along and cc:
\nclift@publicus.net with your RSVP as noted below.
\n
\nIf you are outside the area, consider joining my 2500 person
\nblog/e-newsletter on "e-democracy" topics from e-participation in government
\nto citizen media: http://groups.dowire.org/groups/newswire
\n
\nSteven Clift
\nhttp://e-democracy.org
\nhttp://dowire.org
\n
\nEVENT ANNOUNCEMENT
\n
\nThe Leadership for a Networked World Program at Harvard's Kennedy School of
\nGovernment invites to join Steven Clift, an international expert on
\n"e-democracy" in government and community and new Ashoka Fellow, for a
\ntwo-part seminar:
\n
\nWhat: "Global E-Democracy Trends" and "Better than Blogging? Building Local
\nOnline Dialogue."
\n
\nWhen: 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m., Thursday, February 22nd, 2006
\n
\nWhere: Taubman B, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard
\n http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/main/directions.htm
\n
\nRSVP: Space is limited. Please RSVP to:
\n ",1] ); //-->
Come on along and watch me take on the "popular kids" of the Internet with their soapbox blogs and defend two-way dialogue via online forums based equality of position. :-)

Steve

Please pass this announcement on to those you know in the Boston area. If
you are from outside the Harvard community, come on along and cc:
with your RSVP as noted below.

If you are outside the area, consider joining my 2500 person
blog/e-newsletter on "e-democracy" topics from e-participation in government
to citizen media:

Steven Clift



EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT

The Leadership for a Networked World Program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government invites to join Steven Clift, an international expert on "e-democracy" in government and community and new Ashoka Fellow, for a two-part seminar:

What: "Global E-Democracy Trends" and "Better than Blogging? Building Local Online Dialogue."

When: 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m., Thursday, February 22nd, 2006


Where: Taubman B, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard


RSVP: Space is limited. Please RSVP to:
or 617-496-6446
\n
\nEach session will last 45 minutes with a 15 minute break between.
\n
\nAttend one or both sessions. Open to the public.
\n
\nDetails:
\n
\nPart 1 - Global E-Democracy Trends - 1:30 p.m.
\n
\nMany governments are dramatically ahead of the United States when it comes
\nto using the Internet for "e-participation." Steven Clift, informed by
\nvisits to 26 countries, will share examples and trends on the use of the
\nInternet in governance and citizen participation. To prompt discussion,
\nSteven will share select slides from the large collection available here:
\n
\n
\nShort Break
\n
\nPart 2 - Better than Blogging? Building Local Online Dialogue - 2:30 p.m.
\n
\nBlogging is democratizing national political punditry, but with rare
\nexceptions (to be noted) it is doing little to build two-way discourse in
\nlocal communities. Recently imported by the UK Office of the Deputy Prime
\nMinister from Minnesota, E-Democracy.Org's "Issues Forum" model brings
\ntogether people from across the political spectrum for civil online
\ndiscourse on local public issues. Discover ways to build bridging social
\ncapital via local online communities and explore "what's next" with Web 2.0
\ntechnologies for local democracy. Political and local bloggers welcome.
\nDetails, including a 60 page guidebook, video, audio, and slides, are
\navailable from:
\n
\nAbout Steven Clift
\n
\nSteven Clift, an energetic presenter, is focused on the use of the Internet
\nin democracy, governance, and community. As a new Ashoka Fellow, he is now
\ndedicated full-time to E-Democracy.Org. E-Democracy.Org created the world's",1] ); //--> Bridget_Black@harvard.edu or 617-496-6446

Each session will last 45 minutes with a 15 minute break between.

Attend one or both sessions. Open to the public.

Details:

Part 1 - Global E-Democracy Trends - 1:30 p.m.

Many governments are dramatically ahead of the United States when it comes to using the Internet for "e-participation." Steven Clift, informed by
visits to 26 countries, will share examples and trends on the use of the
Internet in governance and citizen participation. To prompt discussion,
Steven will share select slides from the large collection available here:


Short Break

Part 2 - Better than Blogging? Building Local Online Dialogue - 2:30 p.m.

Blogging is democratizing national political punditry, but with rare
exceptions (to be noted) it is doing little to build two-way discourse in
local communities. Recently imported by the UK Office of the Deputy Prime Minister from Minnesota, E-Democracy.Org's "Issues Forum" model brings
together people from across the political spectrum for civil online
discourse on local public issues. Discover ways to build bridging social
capital via local online communities and explore "what's next" with Web 2.0
technologies for local democracy. Political and local bloggers welcome.
Details, including a 60 page guidebook, video, audio, and slides, are
available from:

About Steven Clift

Steven Clift, an energetic presenter, is focused on the use of the Internet
in democracy, governance, and community. As a new Ashoka Fellow, he is now
dedicated full-time to E-Democracy.Org. E-Democracy.Org created the world's first election-oriented website in 1994 and today builds sustainable local online citizen participation efforts around the world.

Through his Democracies Online blog/e-newsletter and online communities of practice he has connected over 2500 "e-democracy" leaders across 100
countries via DoWire.Org since 1998. Based in Minneapolis, his public
speaking on "e-democracy" takes him to places as diverse as Iceland,
Lebanon, and Mongolia - 26 countries thus far. Listed twice among the "25
Who Are Changing the World of Internet and Politics" he has consulted to the United Nations, the OECD, IFES, the Pew Internet and American Life Project, and many others.

Additional background, articles, and speeches are available from:

Join his Democracies Online Newswire/Blog from:

Tune into E-Democracy.Org:


For information on the Leadership for the Networked World program, see:

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Steven Clift -

Web:
Blog:
\n NGO:
\n
\nReplies to slc@ may be missed.
\n. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
\n
\n. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
\nSteven Clift -
\n
\nWeb:
\n Blog:
\n NGO:
\n
\nReplies to slc@ may be missed.
\n. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
\n
\n
\n
In reply to Frederica-Azania Clare

Re: Blogged out!

by Michael Griffith -
What a fabulous resource Frederica-
Did you manage to listen in to any of this yourself? If so could you share one or two core insights for us in this seminar about the limitations of Blogging as measured up against "Building Local Online Dialogue"
Thank you for this link
Michael