Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ready, Set, Blog

I am going to follow Michelle's format because I really did not have some new lesson I tried this week. I met students in the two classes where I will use blogs (ENG 099 and ENG 101) and used the time in a lab to set up the blogs. I am actually starting to wonder if it would be better for me to NOT spend any time in class for that, and ask them to do it at home. I have observed time and again as I do this that certain students, who I do not believe are afraid of technology, associate being in a classroom with having to ask the teacher what to do and not taking any initiative. More than once I had to go to a student and tell her "well, you now have to click on the 'create a blog' button" which, since the agenda for the day written on the board stated "today you will create a google account and then use that to log in and create a blog on blogger.com" puts the term 'self-evident' to shame. As I said, I don't think this is because these students lacked the intelligence to follow the directions, but because they had cast themselves in the roles of these helpless creatures who needed hand-holding. I do in fact plan to make it a homework assignment next time, so you now also know what my first entry in Spring I will cover.

These problems aside (and some funny ones, like a student who kept kicking the LAN cable out of its socket but kept complaining that her computer hates her), it is always amazing to me how students will accept whatever requirements set with no question. I always expect an avalanche of questions regarding why they have to do blogs, yet seeing it as a requirement on the syllabus in black and white seems enough for them. We also had an interesting discussion about privacy and authorship in ENG 101. I explained to them why it may be to their advantage to use their first name and the first letter of their last name only if they wish to protect their privacy, but instantly a few students asked why write in public if you do not want that shared. I told them that technically they do not choose to write in public, as they did not know about that when they joined the class, so this is a way of retaining control over their online identity. Several students asked me if they were allowed, all the same, to choose to be public with their full name, and I agreed that they could but I warned them that once you go down that road, you can hardly go back. But as a discussion it did serve as a great starting point for discussing the rhetorical triangle of message, speaker, and audience, so-with apologies to someone in the seminar I know hates that term--it was indeed a teachable moment.

7 comments:

  1. Jason and I are also considering having students get their blogs for homework. In my case, it is because the connections in the computer labs can be a complete pain in the neck and I end up exhausted helping 28 students with the different issues that pop up as they attempt to sign up.

    The one time I did not have a lab every day, I showed Blogger on the smart room screen on a Monday and said: "See this site? Go there and get a blog by Wednesday." Then on Wednesday, when we had a computer lab, I dealt with the 1/3 of the class that had not, or had problems getting one. So I know it can work.

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  2. I really noticed the "teacher dependent" thing this time around as well. I give them a sheet with 5 steps, numbered, and at each step they call me over and ask "what do I do next"? I used to explain to them what the next step was, assuming they read it and did not understand. I think I was wrong. They did not read it at all. They just want my physical presence near them like a drill sergeant in boot camp. So now I say "What you do now is #2". I suppose I am still giving them attention by responding. I think I will pay more attention to this as the semester goes on as this might be a "re-searchable moment".

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  3. Also, I am with X. The times I have sent them home to set up blogs, almost all of them were able to do it. And, it actually went faster when I sent a 102 to the library and B333, gave them 45 minutes to get it done and return, and all but 2 were able to do it. I then took the 2 to my office after class and we got it done.

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  4. Ximena, I remember you saying that you had done so in the past, that is why I am considering switching to that. Plus it will be more helpful for these students who have no problem setting up the blogs and roll their eyes as I run around to respond to the helpless ones.

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  5. "Dead Air" is the bane of any class and particularly one that uses tech as it makes the teacher look inept no matter how skilled they are.

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  7. (As in if the Internet goes down, suddenly YOU look like an idiot.)

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