Talk about mixed emotions…a seemingly great list of 13 blogging articles from Lore: An E-Journal for Teachers of Writing with no time to read them all.
In the past few years, blogging has become something of a national pastime, and academics are becoming a core group using blogs for personal and professional reasons. Yet even though many people embrace blogging, many others have no idea what it is or why anyone would do it. In this issue of Lore, we explore the role that blogging plays for academics both in and out of the classroom.
The solution? Well, we could split it up…any takers? But if not, here is the Weblogg-ed solution for getting the gist of what’s there…the last few sentences from each essay. Click on the number to see the whole thing.
1. “And my answer is that all this talk about not wanting people to know your private self is concealing not only a desire to be seen and known precisely as a person in private life but also a desire to re-imagine the possibility of one’s own status as a discrete subject – a dream or hope that we might still think of ourselves as coherent persons with a private subjectivity to protect. But me, I would rather revel in my incoherence and play with and as myself in the blogosphere.
2. I had not expected this kind of dialogue when I started my blog, but I am pleased to have it. I think blogging is making me a better teacher, and it may make me a better writer and scholar as well. I can only hope it is also helping my students to achieve their own goals, in the composition class and elsewhere.
3. One of the pleasures of blogging is that you never know how things will develop. Maybe the blog will take off as an educational tool for my students. Maybe even others will benefit from it. Or maybe the interest will be low. It’ll be fun finding out.
4. Race, gender, sexual orientation, and class become both highlighted and hidden within knitting blogs. By this I mean that bloggers may move across subjectivities within their blog, one day emphasizing their difference, another day emphasizing their sameness. The fluidity of the presentation, not marked by the physical presence of a person, allows a different and more inclusive community.
5. Of course, my blog contains many entries that are not about my academic work. What regular reader can forget my scintillating accounts of backing up my computer or trying to fix the broken toilet? Sometimes I do bring those moments into the classroom, usually in the before-class banter of what happened last weekend. Furthermore, much of that mundane stuff is in here because there are multiple audiences for this, including friends I’ve had for decades who also blog. No one in my family blogs, as far as I know, but that could change any day now.
6. Progressive educational philosophy emphasizes empowering the student. A Web log forces students to come into contact with that outside world a little earlier, which can be a burden. But with that responsibility comes power. I’d rather the university president not think of me as the bane of her existence because of my blog. At the same time, this sad bird enjoys being noticed.
7. While blogs are by no means immune from the purely antagonistic behavior such as “trolling,” bloggers have – and frequently do take – the opportunity to gain insight into one another’s private worlds. Among those who appreciate this opportunity there exists a sense of camaraderie. One of the traditions among my peers is the post that introduces to the online readership a real-life friend who has been persuaded to start a blog. In other words, the epidemic is spreading.
8. I have included a blogging component to my course, and I am excited to see what happens. I have modified the assignment and changed some expectations with the “it-doesn’t-take-a-genius” view that, no, students do not have to like assignments to be benefited by them, but that, yes, it does help if students like what they are doing. I am hoping to sidestep a confrontation with the “Is it fair to continue?” question by finding that they enjoy the blogging component as much as I do. Check out my current teaching blog to find out if my ideological hot air balloon has deflated or if it continues to soar.
9. Blogs critical of the treatment of adjunct faculty such as Invisible Adjunct remind us that blogging need not keep us from being aware of our status in the university. But Invisible Adjunct has recently closed down, not because the status of adjuncts has improved or the author was able to secure a tenure-track job, but because the author has decided to leave the academy for good. For those of us on the bottom of academic hierarchies, blogging may be a luxury we cannot afford.
10. While I don’t know if any of my students will become avid bloggers like myself, I do believe they’ve benefited immensely from constantly putting their ideas into the (at least theoretically) public sphere. Just as I’ve learned much about my own dreams and goals by going public with my thoughts and arguments on sustainability, I hope that my students will recognize the joy of interaction provided in both the theater and the blogosphere.
11. While blogging will not and should not replace traditional academic articles and monographs, it does provide opportunities for peer review, dialogue, community building, and collaborative authorship, both in research and in teaching, and I think academic Web logs have helped spur the move toward open-access, interactive scholarship.
12. Our class experiment has been limited by the absolute lack of technology in the classroom; however, the students are still quickly learning about blogging and becoming acclimated to greater use of computers and the Web, albeit with some resistance. Our blogging experiment will continue throughout this semester and likely throughout our professional careers. While this experiment is incomplete, the class has already exceeded our expectations because of the speed with which the students have become comfortable with and inquisitive about both blogging and digital technology.
13. Despite a few temporary technical glitches, my experience with using blogs to teach writing has been very positive. It is too early to tell whether writing produced online, rather than slipped discreetly under the writing teacher’s office door, is truly of a higher standard. However, it is usually a lot more fun for the students to produce and for the teacher to read. I hope that institutions that teach writing will come to recognize the Web log as a valid form of instruction and alternative assessment because it is basically the writing portfolio digitally remastered.