Weblogs as a teaching and scholarship tool

Blogging in the English Department

Here at the UBC Town Hall… I normally don’t blog sessions, but I’ll make an exception in this case, as this is a topic very close to my heart. A group of TAs in the Department of English (my old discipline) are talking about their experiences using weblogs to support their instruction and scholarship.

English TAs have been more or less sustaining themselves as a project for some time now. We have provided hosting and a bit of tech support (and last year did a workshop), but I can’t take the slightest bit of credit for the great work these people are doing. Which is precisely why weblogs are such a great on-campus technology. This stuff scales.

On to the presentation…

Tyson Stolte — stressed the simplicity of using the tools. He also noted that many students who are quiet in class prefer to express themselves in this medium.

Janey Lew — described the many ways a weblog can approach the teaching and learning process, suggesting that “a whole new level of discourse is added to the course”

Duffy Roberts — offers a manifesto:

We use a weblog because

(1) it asserts that thinking about text and the writing about text is not isolated to the classroom,

(2) it offers a site where accountable debate and dialogue between peers and instructors occurs,

(3) it addresses learning how to engage with a community of thinkers and allows an alternate medium for voices to be heard,

(4) it allows students to practice the writing of what they are thinking on a ongoing and regular basis,

(5) it allows and encourages the revision of writing, and authorizes a writing-as-process approach.

Denise Hubert — says “weblogging embodies my teaching philosophy. It promotes real engagement with the text. The students decide what is important, and share resources.

Denise is also doing a fine short overview of RSS and Bloglines. And used it to demonstrate how the efforts of the cohort inform each other. (Which I suppose is why they don’t need me any more — sob.)

I’m a lousy conference blogger — all these people are far more interesting and articulate than I am making them sound. Right now they are blowing the audience away with descriptions of how the open discussions bring in students from other courses (and other professors) into the discussion. Which non-bloggers in the audience are finding hard to believe.

I did a short audio interview with Denise that should be up shortly.

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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