Presentation Notes for CET Presentation on Blogging in the Liberal Arts

Notes for CET’s January 12 Workshop on Social Software for Educators

INTRODUCTION: A Brief History of BG’s Classroom Blogs

A non-techie writing and lit teacher turns to blogs in the fall of 2001. Why?

Writing Divide Within Students
Dynamism and inventiveness of their communications via IM and email versus the formulaic, static delivery of their academic papers

Social/Academic Divide Within Students
Collaborative learning opportunities (learning as an essentially social activity) that extend the reach of the classroom into their non-classtime lives (integrating the parts of their lives)

Active Learning=Contructivist Learning vs. Passive Content-Absorbing Frameworks
Knowledge Production within a collaborative community prepares students for the realities of the current workworld

Fall 2001 First-year Seminar Contemporary Ireland through Fiction and Film introduced a blog as the centralized locus of course activity that served as a budding CMT for content delivery, updates, discussions, feedback loops and experiments in in-class writing prompts. The blog brought the world to the classroom and the classroom to the world as students interacted with professionals in the field.

The explosion of blogs and CMTs and hybrid tools make it possible to tailor social software uses to the specific needs of a school, a teacher, a course, and a student.

Most Middlebury faculty use our home-grown, open-source CMS tool, SEGUE. Several use SEGUE in conjunction with a Movable Type blog. Very few do what I do, which is to use blogs only.

Examples of a Blog/Segue combined use:
Mary Ellen Bertolini’s Writing Workshop, Level One Course (WP100):
Segue for the kinds of materials that do not change; i.e. her syllabus, tips, and places for students to publish.
Why add a blog?
Blogs and their fluid, restless “anxiety” mirror education as narrative, a course as shifting and emerging, learning as conversation. The blog promotes several different kinds of writing voices, relective and conversational. MEB uses her blogs to convey information in a conversation that spans the semester:

MEBWP100.jpg   peertutors.jpg
M. Bertolini’s WP100 Blog                       M Bertolini’s Peer-Writing Tutor Blog


As MOTHERBLOG Courses Use the Blog as Course Locus, Blog Becomes Course Content


creativewritingblog.jpg  irishblog.jpg
Creative Writing Blog                                 Irish Lit/Film MotherBlog

Assignments: A Single Assignment on the Blog Can Create Community and the Seeds of Collaboration, Weave Past Semesters into the Current Course, Use Student Models, while Growing Individual Learners and Writers

knowledge tree.jpg
Knowledge Tree Assignment and Responses

Students as Experts and Apprentices, Teaching and Learning from One Another; Class Spills Onto the Blog, The Blog Spills Into Class

marisa.jpg  marisaOH.jpg
Marisa’s Formal Response                   Marisa’s Informal Riff
petereflection.jpg barriereflection.jpg
Pete’s Final Reflection                                  Barrie’s Course Reflection

Efficacy & Emergence: The Public Nature of the Blog and Its Effects on Student Learning

A Response from Ireland

Colleen’s Sense of the Class as Single Entity

Experiments in Collaboration: New Kinds of Multi-Media Web-based Research Projects

Associative Reading/Using Multimedia/Being Blogged

Dan & Elise Using Multimedia

Amanda’s Award-Winning Literary Interpretation


Using the Course Blog as Pure Blog and a ‘Zine rather than A Cross Between CMT & Blog: Chaos or Collective Creativity
“Scholarship is intensely creative” –Maxine Greene

Artswriting Fall 2004 Homepage

Writing on the Web promotes an understanding of the relationship of structure and form to style and voice, and to content. The power of the link focuses attention on every word and the relationships between ideas. Multimedia writing extends and enriches the voice and the analysis, offering opportunities for intensely creative, efficacious scholarship on the undergraduate level.

Challenges and frustrations inherent in writing on the Web: Time, Training, Access and Writing in the public eye

Students Take Blogs On the Road and Into the Field
Independent Study Projects Using Blogs Abroad

Char’s Scotland Blog

Piya’s India Blog

Students Use Blogs in Service-Learning Mentoring

Fifth-Grade Online Writing Buddies

The Professor Blogs
To explore the potential and the reality of blogging and its demands–the tensions–I started a blogging practive of my own in May 2004 to chronicle classroom blogging experiences, to reflect on the effectiveness of the work, and to explore a virtual professional blogging community.

BGBlogging:Out There in the World

Conclusion: The Blog as Classroom Presence

Dan’s Sounds from the Blog

Additional Resources:
Digital Storytelling
Joe Lambert’s Center for Digital Storytelling
BG’s Notes from NITLE Conference on Multi-Media Narrative in the Liberal Arts Classroom