Our SSAW Proposal Has Been Accepted

I’ve embarked on a collaborative adventure with my colleague, Mary Ellen Bertolini and two intrepid, bold student bloggers, Piya Kashyap and Eugene Lee: a panel discussion at The Social Software in the Acadmey Workshop, May 14-15 at USC’s Annenberg Center
. Here’s our proposal:

Pandoraís Blog? What Happens When College Students Take to Social Software in the Classroom

After four years of integrating weblogs into our writing and literature courses, two Middlebury College professors find ourselves at a crossroads. Our success has spawned unforeseen pressures for our courses, ourselves, our students and our institutions. The more we understand the benefits of implementing social software the more we must stay abreast of the rapid developments in the field, finding time in already overly busy schedules to develop sound ways to evaluate and to grow our practices. If we ask our students to blog, must we, too, blog? Should we use a wiki or a blog, add podcasting or folksonomies and RSS? How much is too much technology?

And then there are the students. When we hand the course blog over to our increasingly technology-savvy charges, positioning them at the center of the classroom, we open all kinds of boxes. In a semester already crowded with content demands, the building of a strong blogging community takes time and effort, and leads to frustrations with technology and blogging group dynamics. For some students the public nature and open dialogue of the blog are unsettling, and come close to undoing the very community they nurture. And even after crises pass, and important lessons about communication and collaboration are learned, invariably, abruptly, after twelve intense weeks, the semester ends and our blogging students are set adrift in a largely blogless college. Increasingly, students want to blog between and beyond classes, and they want to use social software for serious academic discourse across the curriculum, but they donít know how and where to start. What have we unleashed?

In this panel, two Middlebury professors and two students will discuss what happens when blogging enters the heart of a classroom community and what the implications are for the development of effective college blogging practices. Although we will touch upon the already well-documented learning outcomes of blogging: the emergence of strong learning collaboratives , the acceleration of inquiry and mastery of critical thinking and writing skills, and the expansion of the parameters of a college classroom, our talk will focus on what really happens to teachers and their students who blog as they blog and after they blog. Prof. Mary Ellen Bertolini will speak about how blogging, in allowing discussion of controversial topics outside of class, has affected the classroom experience and the course outcomes; Sophomore Piya Kashyap will discuss the effects of bringing the blog out into the world through an independent blogging project in the field; Junior Eugene Lee will explore how blogging the controversial has been valuable to his education and how when a course blog dies, something essential goes missing; and Prof. Barbara Ganley will talk about what happens when the teacher who uses blogs in her courses blogs the journey under the eye of her students and colleagues, and she will consider the implications on course and semester design in liberal arts colleges.

It looks as though I’ll also be sitting on Joseph Hall’s Panel on Blogs and Pedagogy.

I’m very much looking forward to this conference as a time to reconnect with others in the field and to collaborate on a conference presentation with my colleague, Mary Ellen Bertolini, for the first time. I also think the students will add an important perspective to the weekend’s discussion which in turn will give the two of them a fabulous opportunity to present to an audience of graduate students and professors!


3 Responses

  1. Congratulations!

  2. Conference Schedule is up

    I’m very grateful not to be presenting at dawn: SSAW Program. From the bios and pics, it looks as if our panel, has the oldest (bg and me) and the youngest (Eugene and Piya) paricipants….

  3. Conference Schedule is up

    I’m very grateful not to be presenting at dawn: SSAW Program. From the bios and pics, it looks as if our panel, has the oldest (bg and me) and the youngest (Eugene and Piya) paricipants….

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