The Spectrum: Blogging as a means of reaching students

The Spectrum news story on my blog workshop (09/24/07) [Compiled version]
See original page 1 and page 12 as appeared in The Spectrum, or check out the web version.

Here’s me again, but this time in The Spectrum, which is our University at Buffalo (SUNY) campus student newspaper. I was just giving my usual workshop on blogging when a kid showed up without prior registration. Sensing something amiss, I asked him who he was and soon learned that he wanted to do a story on blogging in class. Clearing this with my Teaching & Learning Center folks, he sat in and listening to my explanations and demos, and proceeded to interview the faculty participants.

First off all this wouldn’t have come to light without inspiration from the great Alex Halavais (seen in the trailer), as well as my colleague Derek Lackaff, who coordinated our classes topics simultaneously in the U.S. and in Singapore.

The newspaper article was a positive piece about how I profess to using blogs to engage students beyond the classroom. However, as a blogger’s right to the last word, it might also make me appear too much like a blog evangelist. There should be some sense of appropriateness when choosing particular media.

We are handing controls to students, and while they appreciate it subconsciously, sometimes we do need to get ready when things go out of hand. It rarely did for me, but recommending blogging to the uninitiated is like opening up pandora’s box, where we’d have to deal with issues of copyright, cyber-ethics, working with code, etc. If students are interested enough, most of them would be able to learn as they go, since self-censorship and other forms of checks and balances come in when they realize how public their blogs are.

It has certainly helped that the classes I taught in Singapore were oriented around mass media theory and Internet culture, so students could literally create or re-purpose existing media with their own critical opinions for course assignments. There was a strong purpose to blogging as instituted by instructors like me, and knowing that not just me, but fellow students and the general public could be watching, blogs offered a perfect panopticon for maintaining good work.

Aside: That Facebook-to-face tip in the article was originally from Alex Halavais.

2 thoughts on “The Spectrum: Blogging as a means of reaching students

  1. I am actually working with a coworker on using Facebook in the classroom. So far I enjoy using it. We also applied for a grant on using Facebook, so hopefully that goes through. But for us, Facebook has helped to build mediated relationships faster because it helps bridge the gap that students do not seem to want to cross easily.

    For both of us we seem to get more class participation using Facebook. We won’t know how much till we do a study with the grant money we hope to get ­čÖé .

    Anyways, I enjoyed your post and I agree with the premise. I am still young and plan to work on a doctorate to go into full time teaching. When I do I think I will also find a way to incorporate blogging into the class. It really can be a wonderful tool.

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