Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Can blogging be taught?

I might have asked myself that question before jumping into a class that was devoted exclusively to just such an endeavor last semester, but since I already teach things that supposedly can't be taught (writing, teaching of writing), the question never occurred to me. (And, anyway, we all know questions like that are just a nasty Platonic diversion.)

But now that Marissa, who was in the blogging class, has asked in the comments below,

i wondered if you could suggest some blogs...you know, the smart people blogs about blogging and other smart people things....good examples are the ones i used to comment about on the class blog

my first impulse is to respond: well, heck, the class blog is still up and running! (Although inactive since May.) Take a look at that. The reading schedules are still posted in the sidebar, even. You've got the basics here, and then the "smart" readings on networks here. But that's all old news, of course. I myself like the smart people in my blogroll, so I recommend them, too.

And a few of the folks from the class are still blogging, even.
KR, now in Philadelphia where she'll be doing graduate work at Penn, has been the most active. Megan is blogging on her original site, which preceded the class. (She's archived the blog she kept for the class, and she has a cool page that provides a timeline of changes to her blogging.) Amy also has blogged a bit, and another person or two has added a random entry over the course of the summer. So that's 3 or 4 out of a class of 14, which isn't a big percentage, but better than nothing. And I have no idea how many might possibly be like Marissa, who is blogging elsewhere. (But I gotta beg you, Marissa, blog somewhere else!)

One of the things about the class that I felt never got off the ground as well as it might have was commenting. I just finished teaching a summer literature class, and we had a class blog. Everyone was required to post to it about three times each week and to comment in response to at least four other posts each week. Of course, some comments were meatier than others, but for the most part this strategy worked really, really well. I found them referring to each other's blog entries even in their own entries, and often the comments became cumulative, as each new respondent commented on the previous comment. Getting the commenting going is absolutely crucial to effective blogging. So in order to get back into blogging, Marissa, I highly recommend doing what you did here: comment! Comment a lot. It oils the gears. Eventually, you'll realize your comments could just as well be entries on your own blog. There you go. You're blogging again!

And something that I admire in Debbie's blogging practices and that I don't do enough of is commenting in response to other's comments. (I blame my lame computer or browser or something that I could probably fix: I can't comment on my own blog while I'm at home!) Michael Bérubé does this nicely, too (the commenting, not the lame excusing), as do any number of my fellow bloggers. It keeps the conversation a real conversation. Very Burkean. I think next time I assign blogs (which will, no doubt, be the next time I teach), I'm going to build that feature into the requirements, too.

And that, Marissa, is what I have to say about getting back into blogging, even though it's a little off the topic of what you actually asked for.


Anonymous said...

Ok ok...I'm convinced I should start a blogger account again (or at least a better place than I'm at now). My friend Mike brought up a good point...since I'm interested in both writing and musicianship, why not use a blog as a form of self-promotion? However, I'm not quite sure how...?....
By the way, do you ever teach any capstone classes?

Anonymous said...

This is Erika from the blog class. I still read your blog and anyones blog from our class that updates.
I was just going to say, I think the reason the commenting never really got off the ground was the exact reason you talked about in the post, which is a lack of response to comments. I know I, and perhaps others, got to feeling like the comments were pointless or even annoying after so long being ignored. I would secretly like when someone would comment, but no one else would reply to THEIR comments, so would it be...UNCOOL of me to reply to mine? I cannot look desperate to those out in the blogosphere. That would be a bad move. Oh peer pressure... Always gets the best of us doesn't it?

Donna said...

Miraculously, I'm able to post a comment from my *home* computer today. (Actually, it isn't miraculous: I just tried something I had never tried before. Go figure: all I had to do was right click and open in a new window.)

No, Marissa, I've yet to teach a capstone. I'm not against the idea, I just haven't done it and am unlikely to do one in the upcoming academic year. And sadly no good models come to mind for music promotion, but I'm sure they're out there. Try technorati?

Hi Erika! You must be the mysterious person in the central TX area who reads my blog? (Assuming you have gone back to TX?) Thanks for the feedback on the commenting lag in the class--I think you're right. But, hey: why aren't you blogging? I thought your food blog was working well (though I myself am a vegetarian so couldn't try most of the dishes...).

And I vow: more responses to comments! I have no more lame excuses!

Anonymous said...

I am indeed back in TX, though I am in the DFW area, I don't think that's central? Maybe you have another fan from TX!
I have toyed with the idea of starting up a new food blog...hmmm... I've started keeping up with a few more good food blogs, and have read many food-related books since I've been home, so I suppose I wouldn't have a lack of material. Just yesterday I made some delicious zucchini bread...that's vegetarian friendly!

KR said...

Hi blog family!

Thanks, Donna, for the nod, although I'm really disappointed with how post-dec continually shuns the rest of the world. But in my defense, I really don't know how to feel about the Lebanese-Israeli conflict, or about BP's poor maintenance practices... Well, ok I know how I feel about BP, but I guess I don't feel like anyone ever reads my blog anymore, so I just talk about meaningless mumbo-jumbo, simply because I still do enjoy posting stuff and updating people who tell me they read it sometimes.

Erica, I totally understand what you mean about the comments, though... I should really by more responsive to anyone who dares comment on my site, so as to break the vicious cycle.

I'll try to actually link to something in the next post. We'll see how that goes. Things are so busy here, and I'm leaving almost every weekend for NYC or DC or the Shore, so very little free time.

Anyway, Donna, I do still read your blog all the time on bloglines, so know that I'm still following along! (And with Megan, too.)
And thanks!

KR said...

Oh and I thought of something else:

Donna, would you mind taking down the class presentation schedule on We Blog? I'm getting leakage from Google to my site. People are apparently googling my name and getting all up in my "anonymous" business.

And congrats to your 20-year old! :)

Betsey said...

I am enjoying your blog and your students responses. Admittedly, it never occurred to me that one would take a blogging class. Then again, as I look at the quality of high school writing, as a mom and volunteer academic team coach, anything that gets kids to write in full words and sentences is a VERY good thing.

Keep up the good work.

Donna said...

Hi, KR, and yes, I'll take the names off the blog. Good point--kind of messes things up for the pseudononymous among you.

I'm always feeling moved to comment on your blog but usually suppress the urge. I'm not sure if my former students want me to be commenting on their blogs all the time. I worry that I might have frightened some people away from blogging more frequently with that practice. Or maybe I'm just paranoid.

Donna said...

And thanks for stopping by, Betsey! As may be clear, I am quite addicted to blogging, both professionally and personally.

KR said...

Oh my god, no way, Donna. /Please/ comment! I'd always enjoy your input, for rizzle.--Even if you want to yell at me for getting lazy and changing into the feared "Live Journal"-ist.

chris said...

RE self-promotion as a musician:

MySpace. I get promo stuff from musicians all the time in bulletins and just random emails. This dude, TheePhantom, is an example. Pretty cool stuff.


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