Blog Workshop – 11/6 – UofPitt

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Digital Brown Bag: “Moving Student Blogs Toward the Blogosphere”

Friday 11/6, 2:30-3:30 PM, CL 435
Presenter: Moriah Purdy

Blogging platforms offer incredible resources for teachers, especially when it comes to making students’ work more visible to their peers, for practicing responding to that work, and in getting a start at what it means for writing for the public. This workshop begins from the following questions: What can we do to bring student blogs closer to how people use blogs outside of the course context? And, why would we want to do that? In this workshop I’ll offer two different blogging experiments I’ve conducted with students, one where I framed the blog as an a digital commonplace log, and my current (still troubleshooting) experiment where I’m turning over all responsibilities for the design and authorship of the blog to students to execute. Whether you’re considering using blogs in your courses or have been doing so for years, this workshop should offer something for everyone as we rethink what it means “to blog” as an action both in its pedagogical sense and for ourselves.

What does it mean “to blog”?

What does it mean, as a verb? What do we mean when we say we want our students “to blog” in our classes? To be straight here, I’m not talking about the affordances of platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, &c. and I’m also not talking about professional, corporate, or journalistic blogs that accompany the traditional media of those kinds of authors, though these are perfectly wonderful and viable reasons to make use of blogging platforms. I’m talking about blogs as a genre of everyday writing, that are the results of people having something to say and deciding to put it out in the world. I think I’ll blog about it. Here are some examples to think through this question with:

Blogging as a Collaborative Commonplace Log

The following example is from my Spring 2015 course in Seminar in Composition. As we were teaching under the staff syllabus we were all asked to have our students blog based on reading response-style prompts the students would take up as their initiatives to help focus their posts. Mondays on the blog attended to this purpose, Wednesdays were for bringing in resources from other places, Fridays were for comments. Join me here, at Our Materials of Thinking: A Commonplace Blog.

Or head straight for some examples posts:

Blogging as a DIY Class Project

I am currently teaching ENGCMP 420, Writing for the Public, a mid-level composition course which falls under the Public and Professional Writing Certificate, or is a requirement for students in particular areas of study. My students come from Pharmacy, Dental Hygienics, English, Non-Profit Management, Japanese Language, Marketing, and represent many diverse intellectual and career objectives. I knew I wanted my students to have my students practice writing for the public in a way that was driven by their own interests and necessitated learning WordPress, which I’ll ask them to use as they produce their final websites. This blog is entirely authored by my students. Each blogging week a third of the class is responsible for blogging, for other content, and for commenting and leading workshop, and the responsibilities rotate. We workshop all of the content (from posts, to design, to comments). View the Blog Instructions, and join me here at Writing for the Public.

Or head straight for some example posts:

Or the “other content” they created: