Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blogs and Plans

Justin Rogers-Cooper

In my two ENG 101 courses, students have set up and written their first blogs. My cluster ENG 101 has a lab hour (just one!) and I've found that a much better space to instruct them with online assignments than the class without a lab. My lab-less ENG 101 has a harder time learning to set up blogs and add new posts because the teaching isn't interactive. I have to show them everything by projector and then leave them with instructions to refer to later. Given the technology we now have, I'm sort of surprised looking around the room and seeing people still using good old fashioned notebooks. I'm not surprised economically - laptops are still expensive, after all -- but only somehow in a fantastic, utopian sense. We have so much technology in our culture and my students work from paper notebooks.

This semester I started a blog with ENG 220 students, too; the course is called Seminar in Teaching Writing. It's basically a tutor training class for future teachers. All but one of the students are education majors. They observe tutors in the Writing Center and they will work with ENG 099 basic writing students. I've also decided that I'll have them work with my ENG 101 students. They shall be put to work. I taught this class last year and I didn't have them keep blogs. I'm looking forward to seeing how this will facilitate vertical communications this spring.

I have two thoughts at the beginning of this semester: 1) having the students log into blogger and leave comments for each other isn't going well in the labs. When they sign in and leave a comment, the screen refreshes itself and the comment disappears. What's happening? and 2) I know that in some composition classes around the country the digital humanities initiatives are teaching students basic coding as a kind of literacy. This seems like something that Community 2.0 might have some thoughts about. Those same programs also tend to emphasize visual elements of composition, too, as in video and photographs. I wonder when the cost of video equipment and software will come down enough that we can easily each use all kinds of composition tools with our students -- not just keyboards. I have an idea for a new course that would be called "advanced comp" and it would include video essays, self-coded wikis, and research projects with visual components. How hard is it to build interactive websites? I'd like to learn this stuff quickly and pass it along. What's the easiest coding possible?

My final thought is about Pathways. In all the learning outcomes, did anyone see anything related to technological literacy? I can't remember.


  1. A note on the disappearing comments: students need to use FIREFOX only. Both Chrome and Explorer at school are not working well with Blogger.

  2. The beginning is usually a rough patch, but I'm sure you will find the most effective way!