But could you do this without Ryan??

Yes it has been a while since I have blogged, I admit it. There is this pesky little thing called the end of the semester that we are dealing with which, as we all know, is the time when technology (yes I am talking to you Dell Profiles) and time sort of collapse and compress into nothingness.

I will write a but more about my wonderful HISP205 class in a bit, but I thought I would share a little bit about the presentation I did on blogging this afternoon for a small group of faculty as part of a CTIE Brownbag.

This marks the first time I have actually talked about blogging on my very own campus. I debated for a while as to how “Mad Dog Ganley” I needed to be, and when I saw it was a small group I figured I could retract my talons.

Sigh, not so fast.

The presentation went fine. But curiously these were the responses from one member in the audience:

1) “I can see how this works for languages…but can it work for other subjects?” Hmmmm. I had to push pretty hard to have this seen as a viable component of the language curriculum… in fact, to do so I took what I saw happening in OTHER disciplines and tried to apply it to language instruction. And I have my HISP305 and 205 classes to thank for making it happen so wisely and well. So, yes it is possible elsewhere and that’s actually where edublogs began: in disciplines other than languages… check the blogroll here for some examples that I pulled together for the session. Science, history, creative writing…they are all there.

2) “But could you do this without Ryan?” The thought process here is such: There must be so much heavy lifting in installing those tools that you need a dedicated individual at the ready 24/7 in order to make this happen. A boy Friday. A Robin to your Batman.

Robin the Boy Wonder
This second comment is pretty perplexing. And I might add, a bit hurtful too. First of all, it presumes that all of the heavy lifting, hard work, time-on-task that social software requires is on the server, machine, hardware end of things. That is not to say there are not lines and lines of code that need to be written mangled and undone (did I say mangled? no wait that’s my job) Indeed that needs to be done and is done. And quite well I might add… many snaps to Ryan for streamlining the WPMU process for us such that it is so effortless…. that was no small feat.

But there is more to teaching effectively with social software than just installing php and mysql properly and well… If you create a blog, it does not mean that anyone will come to your blog or that your students will use it for learning. You have to know what you want the outcome of this endeavor to be before you even get started. It takes work and effort to teach effectively with these tools.

If you are not willing to wrestle with the idea of an emergent classroom, a student-centric, passion-driven, “oh my goodness did you read the comment he got from Chile on his blog?” type of a learning environment, then this is not for you. Fine. But please don’t dismiss us because you might not really understand what we do or how we do it. Please don’t rob us of the pride we have in the accomplishments that we have made over the past three years. We are good at what we do and are proud of what we have created together, even if it might not make immediate (or any) sense to our colleagues.

I am beginning to see how fearful some folks become when we talk about thinking about teaching differently. Yes, fear… here within the very same place that markets itself as otherwise.

So the short answer is yes, this can be done without Ryan, and in fact Ryan is working hard to make it so he can find more useful ways to spend his time vs hand coding class blogs (read: tis otherwise a waste-o-time… computers are here to serve us and automate tasks…punto).

It’s not about the tools…it’s about the teaching.


Holy cow, Batman. Get real.

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!


  1. Barbara Ganley · May 4, 2008 Reply

    These are the moments we dread but experience, repeatedly, as we try to transform our colleges and universities into far more creative, worldly, caring places than they have ever been. We have to expect the naysayers to be particularly vocal–they have the most to lose, after all, if their traditions are upset.

    You are exemplary in your willingness to engage in discussion about these expansive ways of deep learning, in modeling great teaching, and in patiently helping people along, step by step, to experience connective learning.

    (As for my maddog-ness, I think that has to do with passion, energy, and commitment. I believe in activism, in standing up for what I believe will help our students to maker better worlds (to paraphrase Richard Miller of Rutgers). Talons? Naw…just fearlessness. 😉

  2. Batman · May 5, 2008 Reply

    Totally inappropriate, and yet…. not. 🙂

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