My Dog Ate My Computer

In  “Learning to Write Publicly: Promises and Pitfalls of Using Weblogs in the Composition Classroom” Benson & Reyman make an interesting point:

“While blogs have the potential to reach a wider public audience, many students reported that they felt that the anonymity of writing with a screen name and the perceived sense of writing for friends and classmates, as opposed to a larger public audience, made thinking carefully about potential negative consequences for their writing irrelevant” (20)

Just be warned that blogging does not necessarily induce audience awareness. There are loopholes where students can use the internet as if they were writing in a private space.

Blogs should encourage two-way communication rather than one-way commenting and collaboration that wikis offer.

In “Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts” by Will Richardson, the first chapter talks about blogs which are a collaborative medium. At first, the internet was only used to share text and data. Then in 1993 came a period of people being able to read and write to the internet.

People use blogs for a variety of topics including personal passions to politics. People can also mix modes by posting photos and audio files. Even the Obama campaign was successful in 2008 because of the group forming ability that the internet has. However, education is slow to adapt these new changes.

How can we keep up? We are seeing, as Richard puts it, “A new model of journalism evolving in front of us” (4)

Journalists now include people in this participatory culture of fact checking the news so that journalists can write better. Children are “always on” (5) and they are building vast social networks with little or no guidance from adults. Students become fearless in posting their content online which is a definite change from how students used to be shy when writing anything in print.

Richardson says “It’s the conversations, the links, and the networks that grow from them afterward that really show us the profound implications for lifelong learning” (9)

I like the idea of lifelong learning. When you learn things in class, it doesn’t  just end there. Blogging is a way to continue on learning after the class ends.

Another interesting fact is that many schools have major filtering programs where people who write inspiringly and educationally about their work can be blocked off from student access. Even though blogs are open to a lot of people, a lot of it is also closed off too. There is also the issue of keeping students safe and issues with publishing names, writing responsibilities and we are obligated to teach students what is acceptable and safe.

Richardson says, “These teenagers use these sites [weblogs] more as social tools than learning tools, and their behavior is sometimes reckless” (20) We now as educators have an added responsibility.

I liked this quote:

“It drastically reduced the frequency of ‘I didn’t know we had homework’ and ‘That was due today?’ responses when my students didn’t do their work. I’d simply say it was on the blog” (21)

Now students can’t say, “My dog ate my computer!”

Blogging is a good way to archive learning. We have to learn how to evaluate blogs for accuracy and trustworthiness since anyone can write them. Some bloggers prefer to stay anonymous. We might want to find out the reputation of the blogger for credibility of the source.

Another interesting quote that differentiates blogging from writing a traditional essay:

“That’s not to say keeping a blog is all work and no play however. Don’t be afraid to include some posts that are totally personal or just for fun; your readers want to see the person behind the blog as well”

In the article, “Erasing Property Lines: A Collaborative Notion of Authorship and Textual Ownership on a Fan Wiki” by Rik Hunter, he says,

“The answer is that thankfully there are vastly more editors who want to make it right than those who want to make it wrong. When mistakes occur or vandals strike, the collaborative efforts of the group set it straight, usually very quickly” (56)

The edit histories usually prevent vandalism because you can undo the changes. I wonder how this can be applied to other aspects of life such as cheating in school and plagiarism.

Tryon in his article, “Writing and Citizenship: Using Blogs to Teach First-Year Composition” talks about how blog entries have mixed reception among academics and journalists. Blogging has the reputation of being used for political commentary. He says,

“Actually I have no idea how to make my own arguments except that I try to stick to the facts and I always admit when I’m wrong which fosters credibility in all future arguments” (129) and also

“Humorous forms of argument were often more successful than the professional discourse readers might encounter in other contexts” (130)

As you can see from the last two quotes these lines of thinking is not even imaginable in traditional academic genre. I think that blogging has expanded the way we reason now. We are more curious about author credibility and entertaining our audiences than ever before.

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Academic Blogging as New Literacy (ch.8)

In this time of multimodal, digital texts and new literacies, I am still a pencil and paper person and find that taking notes the “old-fashioned way” allows me to better integrate with the text as the arguments and ideas are re-represented into the dialogue I have personally created with the text. That being said, as I read chapter 8 “Academic Blogging as New Literacy” and began to take notes I thought it might be helpful (or more appropriate) to include my notes here in the blog forum so that maybe some deeper connection could be made between the work that we do privately and the work that we do publicly as discussed in this chapter.

  • blogging, as discussed in this ch., is a social practice capable of creating and changing/manipulating relationships while allowing its participants  to create/form/and integrate new ways of knowing and learning information.
  • blogs are interactive texts in which the creator beings a digital text and the audience/participants continue or comment in an ongoing reciprocating process
  • blogging allows for possibilities that cannot be afforded through regular paper-based texts. The use of links, hyperlinks, video, and music components make information sharing both endless and limit-less.
  • Blogs in their origination are a blend of the personal and a public or more accurately personal writing for the public.
  • The creators of blog posts typically write for an immediate audience and sometimes find difficulty once they discover a larger readership than first imagined (ex. teen girls writing for friends who become aware that the entire school district and beyond can view the information).
  • Academic blogging can be an extension of a person’s scholarly persona and afford them a place to explore ideas and concepts related/connected to the work they are pursing in their studies
  • blogging takes more than just the actual text into consideration to meaning, readers must also be aware of page layouts, pictures, colors and even advertisements. The “situatedness” of the text becomes extremely important
  • digital texts pose a problem in the discussion of contexts because of the varying approaches and choices that can be made from a single posting. Not everyone will follow all the available links, read the archives or respond in the same way to these complex configurations of texts.
  • There are multiple lens through which these digital-based texts can be researched, one example being “insider research” which is done by the same people who are using/interacting with the new media technologies.
  • These new digital texts need to be investigated for the way in which they create social events and relationships among broad social boundaries and how these relationships affect their audience/participants
  • Nixon (2003), as cited in the text, points out that we need more focus on how we research as well as what we research.

At this point in the text the authors begin to discuss their own research in which they practice “insider research” by posting to their own blogs, commenting, and participating in the online world of digital texts (including images as noted by Flickr.com) all while tracking their own activity using a web program designed as a note taking tool (another “blog” form?). They discuss their findings in relation to the following three categories which are best summarized through the authors own accounts (for more information review Ch.8):

1. Publishing the Self which includes specific issues about performing online

identities, our sensitivities as bloggers to impression formation and our deci-

sions about what to post and what not to post. In considering the content

of our blogs, we look at how postings can work on the boundaries between

private and public life. We also include the affective dimension of blogging

in this category (such as feelings of pride, embarrassment and so on) and

their relationship to respect and reputation in blogging communities.

2. The nature and fabric of the text as an interlinked and constantly evolving

work, that is fluid, visual and ,at least in part, created by readers, other blog-

gers and the comments that are added. The fabric of the text is concerned

with the tools used to construct meaning. Predominantly this is about the

use of multimodal text to signify group membership, reference to shared

understandings and humor. However, we are also keen to show how the

visual mode is used and, particularly focus on the use of photographic

images. This section talks about the way in which medium, modality and

semantics connect.

3. Social networks looks at how interactivity gives rise to the notion of blog-

ging as a shared endeavor, a network than can lead to the development

of a community of practice or an affinity space and how this relates to other

platforms for online interaction (email, Flickr, MSN, shared blogs, others’

blogs) as well as to offline interaction.

All of this information allows us to see the multitude of opportunities afforded to us through digital-based texts, as the authors point out it is a way for the individual to “author the self”. Developing and sustaining an online identity is a chance for virtually anyone to explore the possibilities of a completely new global medium. This medium warrants a significant amount of attention for the many (if not unlimited) possibilities this has to offer academia and at this point the research is merely a beginning.