Thursday, March 11, 2010

My "Getting Started With Blogger" Handout / Next Week's LIB 200 Topics

My first post begins with a handout I created to help my LIB 200 students get started with Blogger. It's posted here (as an editable .doc file) on my external server. It's a step-by-step guide to 1) signing up an Gmail account, then 2) creating a blog, along with screenshots. Feel free to download and customize this handout for your courses.

As I put together this handout, I was surprised by Gmail's new 'verification' step, which requires students to give their phone number before receiving a text or a voice call. As you sign up for Gmail, you must now provide this verification code. Obviously, most of our students have cell phones; many have smart phones. But not all do. Is it a way to harvest cell phone numbers? (I used to write on privacy issues as a journalist--perhaps there's a story here.)

Their web page states that Google will never spam anyone with calls, etc. with the extra verification step. I hope so, but this is a company with designs on taking over the mobile world, too. I wish that new verification step would go away. It just doesn't feel right to give your phone number (which has to be a real, working phone number) away like this. If enough users complained, Google would change this.... It should.

Topics for next week in LIB 200 include global warming and the impact of suburbia on our carbon footprint. The subtitle of my course is now "Science/Technology: Promise and Peril." Future topics include the promise and danger of robots, molecular biology, cloning, atomic energy.... The readings include an 'imaginative' text treating the same 'scientific' topics: YouTube clips from films of robots and Frankenstein, graphic novels on Robert Oppenheimer and Rosalind Franklin (unrecognized contributor to the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA), another graphic novel illustrating concepts from Darwin's On the Origin of Species and an excerpt from Ian McEwan's Enduring Love (which dramatizes the dilemma of altruism under Darwin), Richard Powers' Galatea 2.2 (talking to a virtual intelligence!), background readings on tech-optimist Ray Kurzweil and finally Caryl Churchill's terrific short play on cloning, A Number. Pretty neat, right? I've posted my syllabus here if you want a look. Finally, our course wiki will also get more content soon. This is a place to share research links with pages devoted to individual research topics started by the instructor and then built up by students. Hope this helps us find some connections....


  1. Thanks - I will be adopting this. What's the quickest way to put screen shots into a word document?

    Also, about the gmail issue: in the past, I had them create "google accounts" - not necessarily gmail - through blogger if they didn't have a gmail. Do you know if this gets around the problem? Interesting question as google certainly took a rough hit on the privacy question with the buzz issue.

  2. NEAT!! I want to take YOUR class. :-)

    I will ask my ENG 101 students if they were asked for a phone number when they registered for a Google account (they did it as homework).

  3. hey Rich--
    I hope you don't mind that I added two tags to your post. Trying to keep the "assessment" portion accurate (haha)

  4. @Laura-- for screen shots, I use the following:

    1. ctrl/alt/del
    2. Open Paint (in the Accessories folder on the Start menu)
    3. Edit the image by cropping (optional)
    4. File / Save (to desktop)
    6. In MSWord--Insert / Image
    7. Rinse and repeat.