The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing

Reflections…by Tracy Gidinski

I’ve much preferred using a blog system to the Vista system for several reasons:

  1. I’m familiar with it as I have been experimenting with different blogging platforms for several years, and prefer Word Press to other platforms.
  2. It has a simpler interface
  3. I love the ease of being able to upload images and other media.

I find myself, however, copying my own posts to a new version of my own personal blog (that I set up a while ago, but just started really using for this course), just so I can see my posts in one place (even without the comments from others).  If I could design the ultimate interface for this (i.e., if I had the technological skill to do this), I would love to see us writing on our own personal blogs, with any of our posts with, for instance,  the category “etec 540” be automatically shown here (with the ability to add comments to either location).  That way, we could view our own posts in one location (including things unrelated to this course, perhaps), view others’ posts on their own blogs, or view the entire upload of etec 540 posts on this site.  But alas, I don’t have that technological prowess.

Is there a way to have the ability to go to the next page of older posts on this?  I find I have to read daily in order not to miss any posts, and due to a (minor) car accident last week that played with my shoulder and made sitting at the computer a little uncomfortable for a short time, I missed a lot of information.  (The shoulder is now fine and the car is under repairs, by the way.)

I wonder, though, if the use of a blog changes the formality of our writing?  I find myself writing in a style that is different than the posts from my previous coursework because of the fact that it is a blog.  For instance, my use of parenthesis in this post is indicative of the style I use while on Facebook, when writing emails to friends, or, to some extent, when writing blog articles on my school blog to my students.  Perhaps this phenomenon is affecting just myself, and I should be using a stricter level of formality in these posts.


1 Jeff Miller { 09.16.09 at 1:24 pm }

Hi Tracy,

We have worked on a variety of models that incorporate collaborative and individual blogs and it is possible to set up a blog like this one so that it is fed content from other weblogs via feeds. It is even possible to make that feeding somewhat sophisticated so that you can post something on your blog with a particular keyword and category and once an RSS relationship is established between your own blog and the course blog, your entry pops up in both places at once. I’ll let Brian speak more to this issue.

You can view any of the postings made yesterday or the day before that by simply clicking on the day on the calendar that you want to look at. That will give you a time-based view of the weblog beyond the limit of the front page (which I think is 15 posts). You can also, of course, look at the postings by category, so you can organize your readings that way. And just this morning, with the help of our OLT colleague Scott McMillan, we’ve added an author view, so you can sort through the postings by author by just clicking on a name. We’ll continue to refine this particular interface to support navigation as we get deeper into the course.

You ask a great question about the potential influence of this space on the formality of writing. My immediate sense is that yes, a weblog space does seem to encourage less formal forms of writing, even when one considers professional journalistic blogs. It is important to pay attention to what that mean in the context of this course and in relation to your own use of such tools in your teaching.

For the Introduction and Text/Technology posts, Brian and I have not given you specific guidelines about the tone you should use. These initial activities are meant to break the ice, get us connected as a learning community and help to get us all situated within this space for learning and communication. With the Commentaries that are coming up, however, we have asked for more formal postings, so you should think about that when you go on to make your first commentary. It will be interesting to compare those postings to these initial ones and, indeed, to the later work we do when we are on the wiki space.

As you can see, we are really taking advantage of the fact that our course focus is on the “changing spaces of writing and reading!”


2 Tracy Gidinski { 09.16.09 at 8:19 pm }

Thank you for your suggestions, Jeff – particularly the reminder about the calendar link – it is something I’d forgotten about! The author view is a great addition to the blog! It’s not only handy to search, but it also is a reminder of who’s here.

I’m sure the level of writing for myself personally will formalize itself much more than these initial posts, especially as I will be writing them in Word first and then transferring them over. I noticed a difference, though, even between the introductory posts here and in the other course I took that simply used Vista. There, I generally wrote in Word and copied and pasted into the text box even for the early “icebreaker” posts. Perhaps there’s some psychological connection between writing in a little text box versus writing in a framework that mimics a blank sheet of paper. Just some thoughts…

3 Brian { 09.18.09 at 9:22 am }

In the past, we have set up blog frameworks in which students post on their own blogs (on the platforms of their choice, it just needs to output RSS), and aggregated posts from either the entire blog or a selected category or tag.

Example here:

There always seem to end up small bugs, and given that we recently upgraded our WordPress installation (and rendering our old aggregation plugin incompatible) we decided on the ‘groupblog’ approach to make things a little less complicated. That said, we are working on an alternate approach, and if we can get something working I will announce it here.

As an aside, I tend to agree that the actual framing of the writing environment does make a huge difference psychologically, though I struggle to articulate exactly how…

4 Brian { 09.18.09 at 9:25 am }

Oh,I should add we at UBC are hardly the only people struggling to make a robust and user-friendly aggregation framework go… You can see some of our discussion via the codeword eduglu…

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