Blogs are to Twitter what ovens are to microwaves.

Blogs are not dead. Neither are they passe. Karine Joly wrote on about the issue of blogs and whether they are, as Wired’s Paul Boutin said, dead.

No, they aren’t dead.

When I can have entire freshman classes (12 to 25 students) who don’t even know what the word blog means, then there is no reason to say that the time of blogs is over. And when I can use them to motivate students to write for themselves and for others, there is no reason to say that the usefulness of blogs has passed.

Because you are an early adopter of technology and new technology has come along is no reason to abandon an earlier technology whose usefulness continues. We have computers, but we still use books. (And I am glad for both.)

Imho blogs are to Twitter what ovens are to microwaves.

You may use a microwave a lot more, but you still have an oven and use it for substantial cooking. Who wants to throw cakes and cookies in the microwave? How about the Thanksgiving turkey?

Using Web 2.0 in the English Classroom

Digital Book: The Wild, Wild Wiki

Wiki Lore and Politics in the Classroom by two English teachers.

Wiki: Romantic Audience Project

Wiki: Romantic Audience Project 2

Using Wikis in the Classroom from Hamline University

For example, …a Rhetoric and Composition Wikibook (Barton, 2006) that share different aspects of learning to write in college: the composing process, writing different types of writing, editing, writing in different disciplinary areas, etc. These students were motivated to share their experiences with first-year college writing courses because they knew that future students would benefit from insights on how to grapple with the challenges of learning to write in college. And, given the challenge of college students deciding on courses to take, students at Brown University created a wiki for providing reviews of different course in a school or college, as did (

To help students adopt a critical stance related to considering what or how to revise a wiki, you may model question-asking responses to a wiki text to determine necessary revisions:

– “What is the text trying to say or do?”

– “Who is the intended audience?”

– “What descriptions or concepts that are not clear?”

– “What revisions would serve to clarify these descriptions or concepts?”

– “What points are being made and is their sufficient evidence or support for those points?”

– “What additional information is needed to provide needed evidence or support?”

How Do I Set Up A Wiki For My Classroom?

How can you set up a wiki for your classroom? There are a lot of different wiki hosting sites available for you use (@ = Wiki hosting). Tim Stahmer (2006) describes three different options for setting up wikis that range from free, uncomplicated to more commercial, complicated options:

Free “wiki farms.” The first option consists of what are described as free wiki hosting sites or “wiki farms” that are easy to set up, although they may have advertising and have limited features, sites such as Wikicities (, WikiSpaces (, PBWiki (, JotSpot (, UseMod (, or WritingWiki, Wikispaces, Seekwiki, Project Forum (, EditMe, TikiWiki, (,, or WetPaint.

One of the most popular of these options is PBWiki given its ease of use, one reason we selected it to use for this book’s resource site.

Students could also reflect on the often-challenging process of engaging in collaborative work. Ferris & Wilder (2006) suggest some questions related to issues of ownership and authorship tied to traditional print based texts:
*How does it feel to have the part(s) of the story you worked on changed?
*Who “owns” the story?
*How do you make changes while respecting the efforts of your co-authors?
*How do you justify the changes you want over the changes your co-authors want?
*How do you negotiate final changes and/or disputes over how the story should be changed?

Rhetoric and Composition Wikibook could easily be used as a textbook if the class had access to computers immediately. And they could edit it as they went along, finding ideas that worked well and others that didn’t.

I edited it while I was looking at it. I thought I could add something useful to the discussion.

What is Web 2.0?

People use this all the time and I didn’t know what it meant.

Now I do.

It means

  • blogging
  • podcasting
  • videocasting
  • wikis
  • subscription
  • RSS
  • mobility.
It means many-to-many publishing.  It means social networking.
It means things I already do.
It means things our students can use in the classroom.

M.Quaissaunee brought me the answer.

Testing for Tech Literacy

A Business Week article says that the National Assessment Governing Board is looking at the idea of testing K-12 students on technical information literacy.

“Our world is changing, the way we do business is changing, our reliance on each other is changing,” says Paige Kuni, worldwide manager of K-12 education for Intel’s Education Initiative and a member of the panel. “Kids have to be able to master those types of skills to be ready for a U.S. economy when they come out of the school system.”

Companies like Intel need people who not only know how to use a computer, but also have a sophisticated understanding of concepts like security, privacy, and intellectual property that will evolve with technology in coming years, Kuni says. Her hope is that a national tech test will spur more schools to teach these skills since many educators just assume that kids are naturally tech-savvy and can pick this up on their own. “Adults in our society and in other countries assume that because kids are digital natives, they automatically know how to use technology in meaningful work,” Kuni says. “Just because a kid can use text messages doesn’t mean they know how to [do things like] analyze data deeply.”

This is part of what I was trying to point out in my TYCA presentation. Many of our students are NOT digital natives. They’re immigrants just like we are and if we assume they are fluent in Techie, then they are going to flounder.

Online course creation: resources

Portland State Center for Academic Excellence has an excellent site with good points.

Plenty of Interaction!
Provide immediate and rich feedback to students. Students need reassurance that a real person is on the other end of the computer.
Threaded discussions are the most valuable part of your online class.
Provide motivation, support, and feedback for discussions by thanking students and summarizing points.
Student-to-student interaction is just as valuable as teacher-to-student interaction.
Provide clear policies on when and how you will be available. Let students know when you go on vacation or will be unavailable for a few days.

Engage the Learner
Create activities where students integrate new ideas with existing knowledge.
Students remember only 10% of what they read or see, but 80% of what they do and 90% of what they teach others.
Students can become overwhelmed by the vastness of resources on the Internet. Be specific when asking them to find resources on the web.
Make students responsible for their learning by asking them to summarize the weeks discussion, take a lead of a discussion, or teach others a concept.

According to their Instructional Design Handbook it should take about 120 hours to create an online course from scratch. That assumes you have designers/tech support helping you.

Listed below are some sites I looked at from which I learned something, but it wasn’t the point of what I was looking for.

This one is actually for universities or departments rather than people, but I learned something important from it.

Six Factors to Consider when Planning Online Distance Learning Programs in Higher Ed

  • Visions and plans
  • Curriculum
  • Staff training and support
  • Student services
  • Student training and support
  • Copyright and intellectual property

I learned something atrocious from this.  And it probably explains why the professors’ works that I’ve liked that have disappeared have not reappeared somewhere else.

When the authors are employed as full-time instructors, in legal terms, they are considered “work-for-hire,” and the college owns their work (lecture notes, exams, handouts) for 75 years from the date of publication or 100 years from the date the work was created, whichever is shorter (Janes, 1988).


Full-time instructors, though, have operated under an academic exception to the copyright act in which faculty own their own intellectual property. This is based on tradition, or practice, and is not a legal requirement.

The issues of copyright, fair use, and work for hire are all being reconsidered in this era of online distance learning. Instructors have been accustomed to the idea that they “own” their own work, even if they did not own it legally. Traditionally, when instructors changed colleges, they got to take their lecture notes, too. They could give away their lecture notes freely. Given actual copyright law, though, a part-time instructor can use the same lecture notes when teaching at two different institutions, but a full-time instructor legally may not. This also applies to online courses; they belong to the institution when a full-time instructor creates them. As courses are being put online, thereby becoming marketable, institutions are beginning to claim their rights to the copyright. Full-time instructors have no legal authority to keep the classes they write unless they negotiate for that right.

So, if I ever have an opportunity to plan a course when I am teaching, I need to first negotiate the rights to the course.  Otherwise I won’t be able to get it back in my lifetime.

five types of listening.

Research indicates that online, open book tests can be just as discriminating and can 
result in as much learning as traditional exams; therefore online unmonitored exams are  appropriate for the college classroom.  As Burke stated, “Most educators agree that  open­book tests are more challenging than traditional objective tests because they require high­order thinking skills rather than recall skills.  The greatest benefit from openbook testing may be that it encourages the type of thinking that will benefit students in the real world” (as cited in Beall, Shaw, & Seiler, 2005, sect. 1). 

Reading online

Jakob Nielsen’s Alert Box has a good selection of information on reading online.

It gives research:

People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. In research on how people read websites we found that 79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word. (Update: a newer study found that users read email newsletters even more abruptly than they read websites.)

and it tells how to take advantage of the research:

As a result, Web pages have to employ scannable text, using
highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others)
meaningful sub-headings (not “clever” ones)
bulleted lists
one idea per paragraph (users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph)
the inverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusion
half the word count (or less) than conventional writing
We found that credibility is important for Web users, since it is unclear who is behind information on the Web and whether a page can be trusted. Credibility can be increased by high-quality graphics, good writing, and use of outbound hypertext links.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed has an article referring to Jakob Nielsen’s work.

The author isn’t too happy with reading online and what it has meant for our students.

Fast scanning doesn’t foster flexible minds that can adapt to all kinds of texts, and it doesn’t translate into academic reading. If it did, then in a 2006 Chronicle survey of college professors, fully 41 percent wouldn’t have labeled students “not well prepared” in reading (48 percent rated them “somewhat well prepared”). We would not find that the percentage of college graduates who reached “proficiency” literacy in 1992 was 40 percent, while in 2003 only 31 percent scored “proficient.” We would see reading scores inching upward, instead of seeing, for instance, that the percentage of high-school students who reached proficiency dropped from 40 percent to 35 percent from 1992 to 2005.

And we wouldn’t see even the better students struggling with “slow reading” tasks. In an “Introduction to Poetry” class awhile back, when I asked students to memorize 20 lines of verse and recite them to the others at the next meeting, a voice blurted, “Why?” The student wasn’t being impudent or sullen. She just didn’t see any purpose or value in the task. Canny and quick, she judged the plodding process of recording others’ words a primitive exercise. Besides, if you can call up the verse any time with a click, why remember it? Last year when I required students in a literature survey course to obtain obituaries of famous writers without using the Internet, they stared in confusion. Checking a reference book, asking a librarian, and finding a microfiche didn’t occur to them. So many free deliveries through the screen had sapped that initiative.

This is to say that advocates of e-learning in higher education pursue a risky policy, striving to unite liberal-arts learning with the very devices of acceleration that hinder it. Professors think they can help students adjust to using tools in a more sophisticated way than scattershot e-reading, but it’s a lopsided battle.

The school year has begun. … and a comment on elite attitudes

I have five classes and I am enjoying them so far.

I did get a bit ahead of myself in two classes, because I assumed a greater familiarity with computers than some of my students actually had. But they still managed to get started and blog. (Go read their stuff at Davis English Addendum.

I’m going to have my other classes read and comment, trying to create a confluence of academia through this one blog portal.

… I’m a little po’ed about CEA’s “fragmented blogs” comment, which was just a throw away line in their conference inivitation.

We live in a world atomized into text messages and jump cuts, socially constructed snippets on networking sites, fragmented blogs and news bites, ones and zeroes.

says their call for papers

Is that atomized like reduced to atoms? So the world has been destroyed by texting, networking sites, blogs, and programming?

Don’t think so.

Odd perspective that.

Being Contrary

Pedablogue has a good article on the way he used contrariness to get a classroom chat rolling. I wonder if I could build that in to the CC1 course?

And, I wonder, how much chat can I do? Does our equivalent of Blackboard support chats? It might be fun to actually do in class.

That reminds me of a class idea that I loved that came out of a secondary classroom about twenty-five years ago. The teacher mandated that they could write notes, in fact they must write notes, because no one could talk and they had to stay busy with class work. They had a whole set of bins with student names on them. The students had to walk across the room and put the notes in the bin; they couldn’t just take it to the student. And the other student had to get up and get their notes out.

It was an idea I found fascinating. And here we have chats that do the same thing. Okay, I wouldn’t want to do this every class period, but a class period in which we are supposed to have a discussion, this would be an interesting approach.