Blogging their scholarship

This entry is part 22 of 46 in the series Teaching Transparently

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In our shop we have WordPress MU installed and available for anyone (in the languages and elsewhere) who would like to use blogs for teaching. I am just now beginning to think of how I will use blogs in my “spring” semester class, and what I want the outcome of that blogging experience (and work, let us not forget the WORK that is involved) to be.

Up until now I have been using the “motherblog” concept, with students having access to that blog but also the responsibility of maintaining their own blogs. Their posts, their tags, and their comments on each others’ blogs bubble up to the “motherblog” front page thanks to a couple of widgets created by my colleague Justin for precisely this purpose. (If you want more info on how they work, let me know…)

Faculty outside of the languages have also come to play and explore. Most notably is the work of one colleague in Ethnomusicology in her “Ethn 210 class: Music and Politics of Identity.” The professor used the motherblog idea as a central spot that pulled in all of the information being created by the class. Instead of students just having a couple of places to post (as was the case in my class) in this class, all of the blogs were organized by task : some were assignment-based; some were dedicated to the countries participating in the Eurovision 2009 Song Contest; some were project-based.

If students chose to keep their work private, they could password protect their posts. Many become accustomed to blogging openly after a few weeks, some never do but blog cautiously, and others simply choose to keep things behind closed doors. So be it. The object of the game is to get experience writing and to write as a way to communicate and to share in and amongst your class… if you choose not to share with the outside world then blogging is not a failure. Writing within a closed circuit blog is still, I believe, many steps above and beyond what usually happens in a linear, vertical, constricting, and media-poor discussion board…

Today I received an email from a writer in Germany who was asking for the name of one of the bloggers from the ETHN 210 class. Why? Well it seems that she wanted to cite the student’s final project in a paper she was writing…and needed a name to attach to the scholarship so she could cite it properly.

This is not something that would have happened it that project were on 8 1/2 X 11 inch paper and slid under the prof’s office door or gathering dust under the lock and key of an LMS.

This is another reason why I like to teach with blogs: blogs allow us to share our students’ brilliance with the world around us, and they, in turn, can enrich the scholarship of others. Yay.

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Barbara has been working for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for about 15 years. In addition to teaching Spanish she runs a somewhat unconventional language center. Prior to this adventure 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 watch the Red Sox. Preferably not all at once, although that could be interesting. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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  1. Dave · December 22, 2009 Reply

    Very inspiring to hear about all the work being done by you, in the Ethnomusicology class, and elsewhere. It really is amazing how many ways there are to configure blogging platforms for different purposes and different kinds of conversation to emerge.

    Considering the language-learning interest of bloggers here and in my context at UC Berkeley, I’m wondering about strategies for cultivating a blogging community that uses (or at some level appreciates being part of a blog with) 2, 3 or more languages, and how to cultivate dialog among students and lecturers who might themselves belong to the same institution but be in different classes.

    I’d love to be in touch about the widgets feeding content to a motherblog, too…

    • barbara · December 22, 2009 Reply

      Would be happy to share the widgets and how they work within our set up.

      The good news about tools like WordPress MU (or WordPress in general) is, as you probably know, is that they can handle all of the languages you wish to input and display (ah yes I remember the days of Macromedia AuthorWare and the horrors of multilingual computing in the late 90s). The other good news is that thanks to widgets and plugins and the like (as well as tags) we can find our stuff, regardless of the language.

      I think it would be very interesting to think about a Tower of Babel kind of blog…one where it pulls in feeds from a variety of sources and languages and displays them in one spot.

      There was an interesting post I saw today by a non-English speaker about why be blogs in English… Since English is the language of the internet, if he wants “hits” and to show up on Google Analytics he had better use English. With the work that ICANN is doing and such, I wonder if soon our non-English bloggers will meet with similar success when languages other than English are queriable. That indeed will be a wonderful time for multi-lingual blogging.

      Ah the possibilities…and the questions they create!

      Please come back again!

      –Barbara

  2. Mike’s Annotated Bibliography | Practicum Voices · July 22, 2010 Reply

    […] Barbara. (2009, November 29). Blogging their scholarship [Web log message].  Retrieved from http://www.languagelabunleashed.org/2009/11/29/blogging-their-scholarship/ […]

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