Sunday, January 29, 2006

Technical notes

Trolls and deleting comments--need to include that.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Random notes

Need to think about audience more, so I'm working on that. I think this will become the key element of the writing theory part.

Also, I need to define connectivism, emergent pedagogy and "secret term 1" better. I'm thinking a couple of paragraphs for each of those (in the proposal)

Meanwhile, the technology chapter is shaping up. I'm considering it sort of half handbook and half description of the system, i.e. scale-free network stuff. Hopefully that will lead me right into a full discussion of my take on pedagogy.

Also, I have to think more about the methods I'll use for analyzing the students' work and outcomes. I'm considering conducting interviews in addition to analyzing drafts and self-evaluations and surveys. This is a really interesting part. It will be interesting to see what the results are.

The middle two items are fairly easily accomplished and I plan to tackle them this weekend, beginning tomorrow morning. I hope, actually, to have a draft of the technology chapter by Sunday. Then, I need to rewrite the definitions of my terms in the proposal. Then, I can tackle audience--rewrite that part of the proposal. Then work on audience. All this needs to happen fairly quickly--like in a week.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Technology and audience

So, tomorrow, I'm planning on dealing primarily with the technical aspects of blogging. Since my own audience is firstly, a committee of English professors who don't know much about blogging and secondly, other professors whom I want to convince to try blogging, it makes sense to explain how it works. Plus it's the easiest chapter for me to write. :)

There will be an introduction before this chapter that will, of course, lay out my key points, including the importance of audience in the first place. Since I think most professors, and my committee especially, will buy into that and wait for further explanation later, I can forgo that discussion for later in the dissertation. It will be coming right after the technical chapter anyway.

There are several key topics I want to discuss:
  • history of blogging, especially its relationship to discussion forums, email lists, etc. since many comp teachers have used those forms before. I'm not sure how much I want to bring in here that is specific to comp pedagogy. We'll see how it plays out.
  • how linking works and all the tools available to create links in the network--comments, trackback, rss feeds, technorati, blogpulse, blogrolls, tagging, site stats and more
  • communities and conversations--a bit about power laws, perhaps--related to above, of course
  • I've also been looking at a few things that are a bit more technical. I haven't read these things thoroughly, so I'm not sure how they'd fit, but they look really interesting. Anything with a term like "bursty" in it has potential. I'm planning to read those today or tomorrow, so I'll see how it fits
My goal in this chapter is to give a good foundation for the technicalities of blogging so that teachers can figure out the best way to take advantage of that technology for 1) creating an audience for class blogs and 2) finding good information and ways of linking into that information in productive ways. My metaphor here might be the way academic publishing works. Most people know the connections between different journals and editors and when they see a specific article and its footnotes, they often recognize the network of scholars the author connects with. Of course, some of the first studies of social networks were done on physics journal citations, so the metaphor holds pretty well.

I don't want to scare people off, but I want to show that most of this stuff isn't rocket science and a good understanding of it really is useful. I hope I can write about this stuff in an engaging way that doesn't sound too dry and technical. So we'll see how that goes.

Let the writing begin!!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Next steps

I know I've disappeared from here, but I sent off my proposal. I'm not going to post actual text until I have it in a more finished form. Instead, I will continue to use this space to throw out ideas and think out loud.

So speaking of that. I had determined that my first chapter should be an overview of how blogging works from a somewhat technical standpoint. One of my main points overall, though, is the importance of having an audience. Should I establish why I think that first before going into the how of obtaining an audience?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Tasks for tomorrow

Need to put a little more detail about connectivism/emergent pedagogy.
Respond to Mr. Geeky's feedback.
Take a deep breath.

Shaping up

I think I'm almost to a good draft stage. I completely rewrote the beginning and I'm planning to completely rewrite the lit review section. I'm planning to have a couple of people look over it after that and then send it off.

Here's a plan for the lit review section:

General educational blogging practice
College-level connected blogging (which will lead nicely into my section on why this dissertation matters)

Shew. Feeling much less panicked now and like I actually know what I'm doing. I still have the chapter outline to think about. We'll see.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

For tomorrow

Rewrite lit review section, taking into account the two articles.

Rethink chapter outline. Need to brainstorm a little.

After that, read over entire thing and tweak.

Then I'll have a draft.

Getting there: For this afternoon

1. Add in the two articles on blogging at the college level.
2. Chapter outline.
  1. History and Nature of Blogging
    1. History
    2. current state of blogging
  2. Pedagogical foundations
    1. Cogitive learning theories
    2. Constructivism
    3. Connectivism/Emergent Pedagogy
  3. The class
    1. Purpose and foundations
    2. Audience
    3. Revision
  4. Missteps--what I'd do differently and why
  5. Future work?
The above outline is very shaky. I just had to get it out of my head. I'm not entirely sure how I want to organize this stuff. I guess in a social science dissertation, one would put the theory/hypothesis followed by methodology followed by results and then conclusions. But this isn't really social science. It's English. So I'm not sure. It's a place to start, though.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Some notes from conversation

In reading the self evaluations, both Mr. Geeky and I have noted two things. One, the students admit to being terrified at first because they had always been given specific topics and a specific formula to write to. Two, they admit that they learned a lot from this initial fear and worked through it and basically discovered their own voice and their own passions. This reminds me quite a bit of Peter Elbow's work. I do plan to include some of his ideas.

We've noted a lot of other things as well, but these two themes keep recurring.

Thinking out loud

So, I'm planning a little reorganization, putting a brief history of blogging before the lit review/how my stuff fits section. I'm surprised by how little literature there is out there on teaching with blogs even though I know a ton of people using blogs in their classes. Maybe I'm missing something?

My hope is to have a completed draft in a day or two--maybe by Wednesday and a final version by the weekend to send off.

I think I can. I think I can.