Friday, March 31, 2006

A question for the experts...

On a discussion forum my husband participates in, a computer science student asked a question about computer science degree programs. My husband asked if I knew the answer, and I said that I didn't, but that I would be happy to ask you, the experts:

Do you know of a college or university that teaches computer science and at least recognizes the open source movement? Is there a degree program out there that you know of that at least exposes students to Linux and mySQL and other open source software?

Thanks for whatever you are able to tell me.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Why aren't we all blogging?

Will's post here about people who choose not to blog or who don't get why we do this, and I had to think back to the presentation I made last week. The woman who was in charge of the technology portion of the program said that she sees blogging as a "lifestyle choice" that she isn't willing to make. She is young, a PhD, and very technologically inclined. But I think she is right: blogging is a choice that affects all the other aspects of your life to one degree or another. For me, it is all positive, but I can see that some might not see it that way.

I wonder if she and others don't see blogging as too "passive", to disconnected from life. This woman, for instance, compared blogging to her mother's need to leave a family gathering to journal about it. Of course, we who blog know that it is anything but passive or disconnected. But I wonder sometimes if people don't see it as the adult equivalent of playing video games -- an artificial online world that keeps us from socializing and being socialized in real time. I don;t know if it is possible to convince people of the value of blogging if they can't see it right off the bat.

Will also made me think about my classes. One of my students has really taken to posting on the class blog much more than his classmates have. This man is the one I would have least expected to embrace blogging, but he really has. I have seen him become much more involved in what we are doing on the blog than he ever seemed to be before we were blogging. He may not always do his other homework, but he always makes his blog posts. He checks the blog frequently to see if there are new questions for him to answer. I am not sure why this is so. But it has really made me think about how to capitalize on this interest that he has.

Will asks the question of whether or not "getting blogging" is really a generational thing. I don't think it is. But I am not sure what the difference is between those of us who blog and those who don't. Part of it may be that some of us are more comfortable with writing than others -- although I have seen my very non-writer husband take to blogging.

So why is it that some of us blog and others don't? Any thoughts?

And I guess I should also ask another question: Do we really want everyone to blog? Is that a desired outcome? If so, why?

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Thanks to all of you who commented below to tell me why you blog with your students. The presentation went pretty well, although I could easily have used much more time than I had. A couple actually signed up for blogs during the session. In addition to some time in a technology session, I participated in a poster session where I got to talk to many teachers who weren't able to attend the technology session.

The teachers there were most impressed, I think, by your quick responses to my post. They could see the potential of blogs from that one post. I cannot thank you all enough!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

And yet another favor to ask...

I am making final preparations to talk about blogging to a group of teachers on Saturday. One thing I want to talk about is why we blog with our classes. I would greatly appreciate it if you could leave me a brief comment here telling me why you blog with your students. I would like to share your thoughts with the teachers who come to the meeting. Thanks so much!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Blogging as academic writing

Jo's post about constructing an academic life really got me thinking. She says,

But there is still a disconnect between what bloggers think we'’re doing and what many academics think of blogging. The lack of editors and other gatekeepers, and the lack of peer review make the knowledge production of edubloggers suspect in some people'’s eyes. This is strange I think since blogging is not so much a technique, as a space where people write and are read, where readers can comment and writers review. Isn't this what learning is about?

I think she makes an excellent point, and I wonder what we can do to change perceptions of blogs in the academic world.

It seems to me that we would have a hard time getting blogs accepted as the equivalent of an article published in a peer reviewed journal. But couldn't it be considered the equivalent of a conference presentation, which often go through a less rigorous review process? The audience provides a type of peer review. To demonstrate audience, we could show the numbers of comments, for instance. In my case, at a very small college where things are pretty loose in some ways and we have no tenure anyway, this just might work.

Has anyone tried to get their blog accepted by their institution as academic writing? If so, I would love to hear about it.

And then there is always the other question: Is this even worrying about? I am certainly not blogging for anyone but myself. Every time I blog, every time I read another edublog, I learn something valuable. Maybe I should just be happy with that.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Is it all about me?

Somehow or other I keep coming back to this question.

As a parent, it was hard to accept that my children's failures and mistakes and even their successes as they got older were their own, rather than a reflection on me and my parenting. I remember when my oldest daughter decided at 17 to take the GED. I had a hard time accepting that it was OK -- good even. I was worried about how it would look, what people would think about me. Fortunatley, I have pretty much gotten past that.

But now I find myself asking the same question as a teacher. Are the mistakes of my students a reflection on me and my teaching?

In a comment to my previous post, Bronwyn indicated that they are. In the not-too-distant past I would have agreed with her; I felt that if my students appeared to be less than perfect, it somehow meant I was not a "good" teacher. But now I have to say that I don't agree.

My students, all learning English as adults, make mistakes in their writing. Those mistakes are probably a reflection of what they have not mastered yet, but they may not reflect at all what they have been taught and taught well. Learning a second language is not a matter of being exposed to the "right" way to do things in English and then being able to do it consistently. This is especially true when it comes to writing. I expect them to make mistakes. And I don't think it means I am a bad teacher when they do.

I would really appreciate hearing what others of you think about this. Obviously, despite what I have written here, I am still somewhat conflicted.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Editing student work

Mousing Around - - Editing Student Writing

Miguel writes about a discussion list posting about editing student writing that is going to be put online or, really, published in any way. I had seen the list postings when they were made but somehow or other I didn't connect to them until I read about them in Miguel's blog. (Does that say something about where and how I get my real professional development? I think so.)

The gist of the question was whether or not teachers should "tweak" student writing so it is "perfect" prior to publication. On the list several arguments were presented for both sides. Miguel talks about how he had decided to not do that kind of correcting when he was in the classroom full time.

The post got me to thinking about my own situation.

A couple weeks ago I decided that my students weren't careful enough in their blog posts, so I had them look at other class blogs to see the quality of the student writing. (This was the basis of my "failed experiment.") They didn't see what I had wanted them to see there.

But I am wondering why I want their posts to be perfect. Is it for them or for me? I think I know the answer and I don't like it too much. I have to think about this some more.