Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My worlds are colliding!

I'm working on a book project about barriers to technology in education--mostly about the barrier of fear, but other institutional barriers as well. One of the articles I read for that had some applicable ideas for my blogging article. It was an article on experiential education. My own work has used Bruffee's ideas of collaborative learning, which, like experiential education, points back to Dewey in many ways. I think of using blogs in writing classrooms as providing authentic writing experiences for students. During class time, we reflect on that experience and I often have students do so formally at midterm and at the end of the semester.

That article overlapped with my own thinking and also with that of Jill Walker's in "Weblogs: Learning in Public." Walker's students' experiences with blogging seem silimar to what I see in my classes. Students don't "get" blogging at first. They are surprised when they get confirmation that people are reading their work and that this realization often leads to more motivated writing.

Walker also discusses the relationship between the ethics of the blogosphere (the gift economy) and the ethics of academic work. She speculates that instead of going down the road that both the music industry and academics have gone down in the form of increased punishments, technical solutions, and the like, we might, she says, "also explore the possibility that there might be some merit in a promiscuous sharing of content." She goes on to comment about the way that the blog genre allows for students to learn how to "connect to the ideas of others while being explicit about the connections they are making." Although she mentions emphasizing the difference between linking and academic citations, I think it would be good to use the blogging medium as a transition to learning how to cite appropriately. Teachers may need to be very explicit that blog linking and academic citation are really the same thing: giving credit where credit is due.

Walker also addresses the ethics of blogging itself, not just of what it means to have students blogging in public, but also of having students write about other people's blogs, who may be hurt by what students have to say. I believe that we should have conversations with our students about what it means to write about others, to emphasize that those people may in fact read what they have written. I think this is an important lesson, not just in terms of classroom blogging, but in terms of our students' current and future networked lives. Many of our students still haven't learned that they can hurt via Facebook or anonymous forums. As Walker says at the end, "The Internet is not a game."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blogical Construction rides again!

{is thing still on? ahem.}

Has it been this long? Really? For months, I've been meaning to return to this space as a place to write specifically about writing pedagogy and new technology. I had plans to force myself to read journal articles and critique them here. Well, that never happened, obviously. But now, it will. I'm working on some writing projects about teaching writing using blogs developed primarily out of my dissertation (finished over a year ago now!).

My current project involves writing about blogging and its connection to academic writing. A good chunk of my dissertation focused on the benefits of blogging for teaching writing (especially for first-year students), but I want to both narrow and broaden that topic. First, I want to narrow in on the link as the key element to creating a good blogging environment and for creating effective writing practices for students. The link turned out to have the most impact on a student's writing development. I want to look at that further, both in a blogging context, and also beyond that, in a social networking context. What links are important to make? Are links connections or something else? What's important about the context we create for that link? The link is the base element, but leads, I believe, to the networked environment that we need to help our students create and participate in. We also need to show them the relationship between that environment within the classroom and beyond and how they can continue to develop that network their whole lives.

Those are initial thoughts. I'll be thinking further over the coming weeks. Comments and ideas are always welcome!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

What's left

I just finished revisions on Chapter 4. I still need to make those 2 appendices, so I think that's where I'll start tomorrow. Then I need to work on Chapter 3.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Notes for revision

Need to create two Appendices--Appendix 1: Blogging software and tools and Appendix 2: Interview questions.

Consider incorporating some interview responses in to the data discussion. So far I've only done this in one place. Example: The Comment section could use some quotes. Look for other places too and perhaps mention in the introduction that the interviews revealed some possibilities for reasons behind the correlations.

Now, take a break.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A long time coming

Finally, Chapter 4--the analysis--is finished. I let this one percolate quite a bit and had a lot of back and forth conversations with my adivisor and some colleagues. I had a couple of false starts and finally, I decided what I wanted to do and I just did it. Whether my advisor will be happy with the results is yet to be seen. I'm fairly happy with it, but won't be completely shocked if I get asked to make major changes. That's one thing I've learned in this process.

Writing this chapter was pretty interesting. The first half was written in a kind of hodge-podge manner. I grabbed time where I could and long periods might go by without my writing anything. Then, just before school started again, I set myself a schedule of writing every morning for an hour, from 6-7. I wouldn't look back at what I'd written unless I couldn't remember where I was. But usually I did. I think this chapter hangs together better than Chapter 1, which I've also revised. I think the schedule worked. I did skip a day or two here and there and I spent much of today (about 5 hours total) finishing up revising. But when I skipped, it wasn't to sleep in or anything. Usually, it was because some other pressing task needed to get done. So I was able to pick back up again pretty easily. Whenever I felt a twinge of resistance, I just opened the document and started writing again and the resistance went away.

I'm looking forward to the next (and final!!) chapter even though it's a theory chapter and I'm venturing into some unfamiliar territory. I think it will be a stimulating chapter to write.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Reading at a distance

I've just read through chapter 1. Here are my general observations so far.

The first half pretty disjointed, mostly because I haven't incorporated my sources very well. I'm planning to rewrite the first couple of paragraphs to give more direction to the chapter. I'm also planning to incorporate more of my own words and argument in the rest of first half. The second half is better, but could still benefit from more transitions and signposts.

It's interesting to be reading it this far away from it. Of course, setting writing aside is a strategy I always teach my students as well. It certainly works for recognizing where things aren't clear or where the argument breaks down. Of course, the difficulty is figuring out how to make things better!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Progress at last

I decided on a method of analysis and recruited two people to help me code and a third to help me crunch the numbers. The indecisiveness was killing me.

I started writing up my methodology as I was working on it and got a couple of pages written. I now need to include a discussion of why I chose what I did, referring to some outside sources. I have no idea what the results are going to be and that's kind of exciting and scary at the same time. I have a hypothesis about how things are going to turn out. If they turn out badly, I have some ways of getting at why. Should be interesting no matter what.

I'm also planning to do some revision work while I'm waiting for all the results to get calculated. I have about a week before I can get all the coding done and entered into the number crunching system. So I thought I'd tackle the audience chapter in bits and pieces over the next week. I actually like revising in a way. You have some raw material and you can start shaping it. I'm also feeling a little more confident about what I want to say in that chapter since it's been percolating for a while, so it seems a good time to take it on.