Well, a new blog announcement:Project Achieve has registered EduBlog.com, which will be an open source educational blog project. We’ve got lots of ideas! If you’d like to be kept informed, bookmark me, as I seem to be the ‘voice of the educational blog project’. Let me know if you’d like to be informed!
Clearly there is some interest in the idea of blogs as educational tools, and I’m glad to see this, because I’m obviously a firm believer. This raises practical questions: a group blog, or individual blogs? How does this work practically? How does it fit into the evaluative structure? I should point out right off that I’ve never tried this with a class. I’m just a 2nd year PhD student who thinks too much about things that lie outside her field of study. So take this as you will.
I would personally suggest an individual blog for each student. Primarily because there are other tools out there that can be used in conjunction with blogging (message board type programs) that would work just as well. I think the real charm and real use of blogging comes when used individually. I suggest this because, in spite of being a ‘public’ space, viewable by the world, it is also a profoundly private space. The student is able to design the site herself, able to control how the content is shaped. It is a personal journal, with an audience. I think this sense of the personal is what will make a blog more effective as a classroom tool than a reflection paper is; it is not only to the instructor, but to classmates as well. And to the student herself. I also like the idea that, if blogging, say, weekly, about the readings/lectures, the student ends up with a nice, useful archive for the exam.
How blogs could work evaluatively: you could make specific requests for blog entries; for an English class, ask for a quick summary of the major theme of the book. This is a good skill for students to acquire. The fact that blog entries are timed and dated is also handy. (Students *must* do their reading on time.) Also: what if you decided to make the final exam worth less (or got rid of it altogether), but asked for short essay questions once a month in class to be answered by a specific time in their blogs? The up and down side is that students can read other people’s answers first, if they’re smart; but doesn’t this just make it that much more interesting? That may well be part of the process. It may change the kinds of questions you ask; they may require more thought and more personal reflection. Or, if you’re really concerned about it, insist that they post their answers within a 15 minute span of time. I’d say make the blog worth a substantial amount; I’ve had seminar classes where participation is worth 40% of the grade. This is participation and written work. I’d try to make it worth their while.
What’s particularly nice about this is that it means that humanities students will not only learn some critical thinking tools, and time management tools, but also how to respond to each other and *gasp* they’ll pick up some html. (Yes, you can learn to build a webpage in my class on the Renaissance poetry. How about that.)
So, these are just my brainstorming ideas abou educational blogging. If you’re interested, post your opinions and send me a link to your blog. Maybe if enough people are interested we can ask to set up something on blogger. And, again, please feel free to visit us at Project Achieve to discuss these ideas online in real time.
Well, I was starting to wonder why I was getting email about my blog all of a sudden…now I see why:
I’ve been cited! Wow. I’m amazed. Well, if you’re interested in ideas about blogging and other online educational tools, please feel free to visit us at Project Achieve, an online interactive graphical and text based educational environment. We’re discussing this kind of thing all the time…maybe we can all have a roundtable discussion online one of these days. Educators unite!
Well, would you believe this? My first ever fan mail!
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2001 22:25:17 -0500
I somehow found your blog from the blogger web site. I just kind of leaned
on teh keyboard and it popped up.
Anyway, great job, and I especially like the looks of the page. Any chance
you could send me the html code… I would most assuredly put your name all
over it and shamelessly promote your site to the 4 or so guestst that see my
Thanks for whatever and again, congrats on your layout, I think it is
Thanks, Jim! I’m so incredibly flattered, since this is my first ventre into html. Wow, talk about making my little day. 🙂
I’m getting more and more firmly convinced that blogs are tantamount to essential in humanities classes. I believe this to be true because a) it allows students to speak in a ‘public’ forum about their readings and the lectures in a course, no matter what format the class takes, no matter how shy the student is, and no matter how many students are in the class, b) it allows the instructor/TA to read, respond to, and evaluate students critical thinking skills, understanding of the course material, and if they’re paying attention at all, c) it allows students to read and respond to each other’s opinions in a ‘democratic’ space, d) unlike reflection papers or other forms of journaling for class, the responses are not static documents that are handed from student to evaluator, but exist as individual archives of thoughts and information that are permanently available to both the student and the teacher. And that’s not even beginning to think about the possibilities of multiple-media representation within the blog. And I’m seeing all this happening within the structure of a current undergraduate class format, not as a replacement to being in class or as distance learning. I’m not sure I know how to tackle that stuff yet. Not virtual university, just virtual assignments, really.
I never really thought about this as a positive option. Why read a blog inmoo? What’s the point? That’s just using the moo as a lens to see webpages, I don’t see blogs as particularly moo-compatible, or that there’s an benefit to blogging being moo compatible. UNLESS: what if we were to write a blogger program into the GUI? So that every char, or, say, student chars, a generic student char, would come equipped with a blog ready to use, either as an object or as a part of the player class, like mail-recipient, internal mail server, internal blogger server, and an inmoo interface for inputting posts, changing html template, and all of the rest of it. Like VASE, we could then program the blog prog to allow for instructor comments visible only to the instructor and the owner of the blog, but not anyone else; you could add the comment function, as in greymatter, for student comments on other’s blogs; you could have them linked together by class, possibly searchable by class group; we could rework the archive to sort by theme if we wanted, or time, or whatever else, have a programmable archive delineation, depending on the class….still, I’m not clear how this works as a moo function, aside from it being handy to have a blogger program that we could tweak ourselves and that would be on site. I can see then the moo becoming a kind of bridge between the work Jason and emma has been doing with VASE, the kind of project work inmoo that I’ve been thinking about, and blogging. the moo would be the structure that links all these kinds of possible projects together; straight html, as VASE projects are, or straight textmoo narrative walk-through projects that rely on the structure of an object oriented space, like mine, plus course commentary/personal reflection inblog thereby linked to to all of this via character….maybe there could be an option on the ‘look char’ that would have a ‘read my blog’ button, part of the descrip? I mean so that all these elements are bundled. I have no idea how I would explain that to someone who doesn’t know about VASE, blog, or Achieve, though. And could the blog work as straight telnet as well as html? If it did, then it would be as we’ve been talking about, really really available to a wide audience, because there would be no heavy GUI front end to deal with on a computer with little memory. Particularly if there’s a fancy GUI interface blog, as well as a text based blog input option. Like this:
[Type a line of input or `@abort’ to abort the command.]
Do a ‘look’ to get the list of commands, or ‘help’ for assistance.
Composing post to Hildegarde’s blog (#21493) entitled “Today’s class”
“I had a great time today. I learned a lot.
One line added.
Your message so far:
Date: Thu Apr 5 15:13:47 2001 EDT
From: Hildegarde (#1974)
To: Hildegarde’s blog (#21493)
Subject: Today’s class
I had a great time today. I learned a lot.
Message actually sent to Hildegarde’s blog (#21493).
Oh, the possibilities….
Well, I had a great time at the silly movie with emma. We didn’t win a door prize, but we did get to see a movie for free. It was funny, and emma is fabulous to see a funny movie with. Man, that girl can LAUGH. Afterwards we nipped by to see Jason, and ended up sticking around and helping him (loosely speaking) generate exam questions. Oh, those poor environment students….
I’ve started putting my application together to switch into OISE. My mother will probably frown over the last two ‘wasted’ years, no doubt, but I feel really good about this, and it would never have occured to me before now. And talk about learning about bad educational environments in higher education…well, I guess everyone has to crash and burn at some point. Now if I can just figure out the money….I know the next year will be okay, with a SSHRC or with a loan, but what about the summer? Should I stay in the history department for the summer, try and finish up my comps work first? Should I just go ahead and work? Should I get a temp job for now, make some cash, pay my rent? Who knows, who knows.
Well, this was rather interesting and obscure. Last night Janine and I went down to the Necropolis to wander among the gravestones, which was very cool (it’s always good to have someone with you who knows their new testament inside and out), but I guess we started too late, because by the time we ran out of light and went to leave, they had locked us in. Janine thought this was cool, she was fired up by the ‘challenge’. I was not. Much as I enjoy graveyards, the idea of spending the night in one did not please me. It’s not that warm out yet. Well, we wandered around a bit looking for a way out, but I managed to wiggle the padlock through the metal thing behind it and open the gate. It took a bit of wiggling to work it back through so the gate would stay shut, though. Better security is required at the Necropolis, but not as long as they don’t bother to check for people when they lock up.
And: I forgot that they shut off the water today between 9am-5pm. And who got up at 9:30am? Great. I HATE that. Not only no shower, but no iced tea either. This is the start of a good day, I can just feel it.
I had a great meeting with Joel and Jason today; Joel has a fabulous dog. We talked about my options for school, and he had ideas about my project that surprised me. So, the conclusion was: I can keep doing good history, learn some programming languages, put history online, and end up with a very marketable multi-disciplinary phd. I could teach (in a somewhat forward-thinking history department, once they see that I’m recommended by historians and that I have a good solid historical disstertation and publications), in a women’s studies department, in an education department, or, I could go into admin (if I feel like that’s what I want to do) or I could just say screw it and use all these technical skills to do something like design webpages or something like that. And I’ll have the experience to do all of this. The only real hitch is money; I’m too late for OISE funding, but I do have an OGS and a SSHRC application pending. I don’t hold out a whole lot of hope for those, though. I know my proposal is strong, but I was so out of it when I was writing those proposals, I don’t feel terribly confident. I was so unhappy then, and I didn’t even know it. Anyway, if everything falls through, I think at this point the best thing I can do is just take some time off. That way I can put together another SSHRC application (which would be VERY sexy given my new topic), and put in a real application for OISE next year. This part of the plan is a bit scary, to be honest. I’ve never not been a student. But, on the upside, I could just go ahead and get some temp work, make some money, just live in the real world for a while, just do things that make me happy…meet some new people, breathe it all in…just take a BREAK from all this. It’s wound me up so much, I can’t even see which way I walking these days. Joel referred to me as “dying on the vine” in the history department. I’m so cut adrift, and we can blame whomever we want, me if you want, but it’s true. I don’t think I can stay in the department. It scares me. And the idea of the next 4 years are NOT inspiring. But, in spite of all that…things are definitely looking up. I haven’t been this happy with my schooling possibilities in a long, long time. I was incredibly inspired by what Joel had to say. I really….I felt my passion coming back. I think this is what I need to do.
Also: dear, dear Janine is on her way over here right now. We’re going to do something totally fun and walk down to the Necropolis across from Riverdale park and look at some old graves. It will be great. She just got a interview with a company in London, and I’m so happy for her, but I just don’t know what I would do if she were to leave Toronto. I depend on her so much. 🙂 Well, at least I have so many wonderful people still around me….salmon….we need to have that ‘gooey’ talk over a good strong beer. And god, we have to talk about this OISE thing too….maybe we’ll be colleages! That would be *so* great. I can’t think of a better colleague. 🙂
Oh! Also! I finally convinced Jason to come see my apartment. He seemed to like it. I do so enjoy it when people can see something nice in this little place….and…
It feels like SPRING today!
Heee….Yay, welcome to my blog, salmon. 🙂 And yes, we should have a raging debate about text and GUI. Somehow I managed to get painted as the anti-text girl and I’m not sure how that happened. (Jason?) Miao pointed out that there must be a point where a MOO stops being a MOO…where is that point? I don’t think this is necessarily due to incorporating graphics or sound or whatever..but it comes down to not just why it’s used but how. At the moment I personally find the GUI bulky, the text window not as flexible (my copy and paste options don’t work from the pull down menu, and I keep crashing my computer trying to remember how to hot key them), I want a different font, a bigger font, a different background colour, and a bigger buffer too. That would be nice. We’ve spent a lot of time making the graphics and sound better, but our GUI doesn’t do what most regular MOO clients do naturally on the text side. Of course I’d like to be able to control the size of the window as well. What if we could minimize the graphics window? That may not be entirely useful for all, but I would apprieciate it. 🙂 I know salmon’s done some great work on juicing up text….some of the many things I want to work on include incorporating her moo progging into my project. I guess I should DO it for a change instead of just yakking about it. 🙂
Today I am experimenting with adding ‘team members’ to this blog. I figure, if I’m going to talk about people, they should be allowed to post a response, no? Anyway, nature abhors a vaccum, and me talking to myself is, well, a lot of hot air. If there were a response option I would just push for that, but this seems to be the only way. Let’s see how that works….
On a more personal/academic note: I have the coolest, sweetness, nicest adviser ever. I wish I hadn’t lost all my enthusiasm here and at this point….she is probably the best single thing at this university.
“It’s an attack on French culture to ban a glass of wine and a cigarette during surgery.”