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.

The Pen and the Byte Offer Different Benefits in Teaching, Training, and Scholarship

As teachers of English, we are used to creating learning environments that emphasize reading and writing. These days the learning environment can be physical or digital.

The pen and paper method is a positive one because we have ample experience with it, we have strong pedagogical models for it, and there are plenty of practitioners to offer guidance in it.

The digital environment, on the other hand, is more recent, we have less experience with it, and, while pedagogical models are coming into existence, the models are presently being formed by practice and not informing it. The pen remains mightier than the byte, yet scholarship, training, and teaching are migrating to the web at a rapid pace. What does the internet offer that traditional methodology does not?

The strength of tradition in English is strong and so reliance on pen and paper remains, but the shift toward an internet presence is increasing, because of real-world rewards.

There are non-classroom audiences on the net, when we or our students are posting and blogging.

The physical, time, and geographic constraints for in-place training or teaching are minimized through the adaptation of courses to the internet.

In addition, the immediate access to scholarship offered by its placement on the web has led many, including Harvard University, to move towards a net model.

Does this mean that the byte is mightier than the pen? No, it does not. But it does offer teachers additional tools for creating learning environments and facilitating learning, as well as a chance to remember what it is like to be a novice rather than an expert. A thoughtful use of both would best benefit schools, students, and teachers.

This is my proposal for CCTE’s State of the Profession.

How I used the presidential primaries in class

This is a presidential election year, which can provide plenty of fodder for non-academic research. Usually when I am approving topics, I eliminate those which require primarily the use of news sources. Though the reading level in Opposing Viewpoints is often not a lot higher than that of a newspaper or online news source, the articles are generally longer and more complete. However, because I think it is important for students to know what is going on in the country they live in, even if it is not their country, I like to have controversial issues papers during the election cycle.

Introducing these can be difficult. I can’t simply list these off, because while I pay attention to politics, I ignore a lot of issues that are controversial. This may be my own bias in thinking that those topics aren’t controversial or it might be that I have read a lot and haven’t been persuaded one way or another, so I avoid the elephant and her doo-doo. And sometimes trying to look up a complete list of controversial issues online just drops you down a rabbit hole.

This year the way I introduced them in some of my classes was through online quizzes, before the primaries were finished. There were several news quizzes that listed issues and had you pick whether you agreed or disagreed with them. Then it let you know which candidates you were most in agreement with. One of those,, now presents a list of issues for you to agree or disagree with on a continuum and asks you to rate their importance. Then it tells you whether you are closer on the issues to Obama or McCain. I am not sure how they can do that when politicians swing like weathervanes, but at least they have made a stab at it.

After the students had identified themselves with certain positions on various issues, I asked them to take one of those they felt strongly about and research two candidate’s sides, looking for persuasive arguments. Right now this would come out more as a position paper, describing McCain and Obama’s rhetoric, so I used this before the primaries in the spring. Now I would ask them to look for arguments on both sides of the issue, not relating to a candidate. Often the candidate’s are asked to speak in sound bites, so their presentation might be minimal. However, people arguing on both sides of an issue can be found in the stronger political blogs. I would refer them, perhaps, to some of those: Daily Kos, the Huffington Post, Michelle Malkin, and Townhall. From there it would be easier to follow links to other sources.

This is from my TYCA-SW talk on controversial issues in the classroom.

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.

Thinking about education

Thomas Benton has a thoughtful article on the stupidest generation… the one we have now.

I recognized exactly what he was talking about, though not all of his points are strong.

I see too many students who are:

Primarily focused on their own emotions — on the primacy of their “feelings” — rather than on analysis supported by evidence.

Uncertain what constitutes reliable evidence, thus tending to use the most easily found sources uncritically.

We’ve talked about these issues at home as well. Our critical thinking sons will often accept what they read on the net based on what else the person said that they agree with. So someone who is a video gamer and very credible there is also considered credible on politics.

Convinced that no opinion is worth more than another: All views are equal.

I’ve actually seen this be more an issue with teachers than students.

Uncertain about academic honesty and what constitutes plagiarism. (I recently had a student defend herself by claiming that her paper was more than 50 percent original, so she should receive that much credit, at least.)

Well, they see their politicians doing it.

Unable to follow or make a sustained argument.

Uncertain about spelling and punctuation (and skeptical that such skills matter).

At least part of the blame for this lies with the educational system. If we do not expect it of them, they will not develop it.

Hostile to anything that is not directly relevant to their career goals, which are vaguely understood.

Increasingly interested in the social and athletic above the academic, while “needing” to receive very high grades.

Not really embarrassed at their lack of knowledge and skills.

I think these are all of a piece. They need high grades to get a vague job making lots of money and they don’t see why they need to know how to do anything in order to obtain it.

Certain that any academic failure is the fault of the professor rather than the student.

I agree. Many feel academic mediocrity is the result of the professor!

found via Sigmund, Carl, and Alfred