Joi's Wiki has moved to [WWW]a new SocialText wiki
This Wiki is now disabled.

Index of notes and instructions: BlogTalkViennaNotes. This is a collaborative effort, please take part in it!

  1. Panel 8
    1. Sebastian Fiedler - Seeding conversational learning environments: Running a course on personal webpublishing and weblogs
    2. Barbara Ganley: Blogging as a Dynamic, Transformative Medium in the Writing Classroom of an American Liberals Arts College
    3. Tom de Bruyne - blogging in higher education: 10 thoughts/lessons
    4. Discussion
    5. Links to write-ups for this panel

Panel 8

Sebastian Fiedler - Seeding conversational learning environments: Running a course on personal webpublishing and weblogs

Priya Sharma - co-author

talking about publishing and weblogs in the educational context need to think about purposes, justyfing why you want to engage in this. Why we want to use these things we start often thinking that what's happening in the workplace and the practice found in education.

Media comms, and students end up in media. So in higher ed should reconsider focus because learning strategies different from real world. Don't need to model higher ed after business but need to consider bias.

Traditional models of learning vs new learning models

educational technology gets assimilated into the current system and philosophy. Waves of different technologies but stick to trad. structural framework. Technology has writers since early 90s envisioned a community learning, maybe do away with curriculum and focus more on process side of learning. Learning moves beyond content.

Need to think about roles and settings. Give students more control over process and goal setting. Radical shift but transition challenging in the current contexts of Higher Ed setting.

Tried with other things, but one path is the introduction of disruptive practices and technologies. but needs to be framed so sustainable. Trying to engage in different sort of research approach.

For sustainable change need to design sustainability in to framework.

Heuristic approach - seed simple design and allow for evolution and growth, then consolidate and reseed what we are doing. Move away from clasical instructional design where you specify what is supposed to happen.

The most important thing to say here - looking for sustained development, not just come up with new suggestions. matter of purpose.

Another strand is conversational learning. What is at the heart of conversational learning is acknowledging degrees of freedom in the learning process. Look at how professionals learn - through conversational encounters. Used in a loose way as an ongoing modelling activity, at the heart of it is the fact that we all keep inner conversations with ourselves and outer conversations with people and artefacts.

Educational design says real challenge is to build support tools to hold these two types of conversation.

Take inspiration from emerging networks in the blogosphere. Some people use tools to support their inner convesration and write about artefacts, people, and integrate inner and outer conversation.

From designer point of view need to build environment that allows people to develope their own learning paths. Some people suggested talking about course information environments instead of learning environments.

Toolkit of personal publishing, blogs are part of that but not all.

Current building blocks: (weblogs, wikis, etc) step towards the two-way web vision - people demystify and conquer the web, people are producers and creators. blogs, rss, aggregators, wikis, new ideas will come into play

tools get more powerful - may include video etc in the future - possibly not important what the tools are.

Web feeds - important in the blog landscape, but a departure from centralised ideas. Opening up paths for designing learning environments or infratstuctures for learning environments.

Course at UBC (university of british columbia) looking at learning objects with RSS feeds for tracking

Want students to use toolkits but at same time want to create the learning enivronment.

Course started with 15 students, and gave them a collective experiment for first four weeks. Simulated the blogphere with students but sped up a bit.

Individuals created individual learning projects in order to do something meaningful with the tools. Students stated purpose, strategy, etc. but project remained open. Role of blogs was essential. Blogs used for centralised mgmt, like providing reading material etc.

Individuals had autonomous CSS publishing system, rss etc. had a 'food for thought' category, going beyond what the group has covered, so trying to feed in 'perturbations' to make people think, to challenge them to go beyond waht they have already done for themselves. Used material from blogosphere, and fed it into the mix.

Facilitator acting like another blogger, selecting news items and chucking them out at the students on the blog. Put it out and watch what people do with itl.

Participants grow with the tool. Start with a few tasks they were given, then some adapted it. Project structure kept o0pen to allow students do develop in their own directions. People quickly got into it. Integration of content sources that were beyond the community worked well. When people started to work on individual project they could go off and use other platforms and tools, as they wished.

Observations Lots of data, but no resources to analyse that data Quantity and quality of output was high. several hundred posts

facilitators did not take central role of providing essential information, so people shifted roles and helped each other, so interesting communication patterns as people did what was needed to be done.

non-intended, non-designed stuff became important and influential

Blog cluster was looking at a Bay area blog and the blogger found them by referrers log and commented, which impressed the hell out of the students, that someone would care enough to blog their blogging.

None of that could be designed into the system.

Tool mastery - takes a little while, but people mastered simple things quickly. They also gained HTML skills and transferrable media skills which were not built in. People got to know each other better than in other classes. They only physically met three times, though. People got ideas about work patterns, and what people think about - beyond what was spoken about in class.

People are continuing with this practice beyond the course, e.g. in the Phillipines doing an internsnhip, blogged about it, and has been integrated into the next cohort, almost automatically.

take inspiration from informal weblog networks is useful for educational people

Need to analyse in detail what is going on, how people take and shift roles, then model this with regard to tool kit.

How much of this can be brought into formal settings, and how can it be used in these other settings? Would like to talk to business people if interested in join research.

Barbara Ganley: Blogging as a Dynamic, Transformative Medium in the Writing Classroom of an American Liberals Arts College

Abstract: Slides: Notes by Barbara (before the conference):

Not a researcher, teaches at Middlebury College in the US, teaches irish literatire, creative writing, arts journalism. Not a computer geek.

using blogs in the classroom for 3 yrs in the classroom, much to the surprise of her colleagues, because they fear if you add blogs you add time to your schedule, you are watering down the content in service of this immediate medium which privileges cavalier and facile thinking rather than scholarship. they think it creates chaos.

If you look at final project from students, those initial suspicians are confirmed. Project included audio files - persona of blog talking back to the class. Paper is not a traditional paper, but a somehow untraditionally structured website!

"Blogging via the Writing Divide"

Noticed that students and done something intersting in their own time. using images and live journals. Less object to be saved but more things to be shared. Not accepting traditional teaching that there was only one way to deliver information in terms of media, structure and content - delivering their info in a 'fossilised' way which is not relevant to them. They did what they were told, but not what they wanted to do. So were not engating in the educational arena.

BG wanted to make changes, but not being a technologist wasn't sure what to do. Decided she needed something to connect everyone better. Only 18 students, but they didn't feel a sense of community or that they knew each other. No personal stake in the classroom, but blogging has potential in all classrooms. Not just computer science lessons. More potential, maybe, in liberal arts.

Decided to use a blog, both as a course blog and student blogs. Medium is so flexible is can be used as a course management too and content delivery tools, but also alolows studends to connect to each others. Students could be playful, could jam, and that was what BG wanted.

Creative disruption in the classroom - isn't that was learning should be? rather than just taking in formation. Blog has allowed her to do that, because of the integrated domain it created.

At end of semester, there is convergence. Students integrate their various selves and voices and levels of existence into their work in a more complete way and reflecting on this.

You can't throw blogs at people and expect them to know what to do and use them meaningfully. BG only has 12 weeks and can't allow people to just do as they will - has to provide context and information about it. Before students come to the school they have to start a blog and start working on assignments with it. All teacher directed at that point. Have to write a knowledge tree, and a lot of teachers ask, how do you motivate your students to blog?

Just asking that question is a problem - if you don't set up that community the blog won't create taht community, so has to be a way of making that community - who are you within that community? what do you bring to it?

Not everyone can do everything equally well, but everyone offers something valuable. and if you have to establish that right from the beginning so that people feel a part of the community. Community if privileged and not the individual.

ref: (Levy Knowledge tree)

So student makes knowledge tree and drfaws links between the work, the people, the inside of the classroom and the outside world, and then blogging becomes a catalyst for emergence.

After setting up parameters, BG then gets out of the way very quickly to allow students to take over.

If the student feels that they are having an impact on their environment then that provides motivation for active engagement in class.

Assignment has an impact on classroom - meetings are more intense, students are more prepared, they are engaging, and this extends over full semeseter.

Students move easily between modes of discourse - they see it all the time because their writing is ont eh blog, so they move easily from informal to formal modes, for eg.

Confidence, boldness and critical thinking improves. instead of what BG's colleagues fear, the students are writing more complex papers than they have in the past.

BG, as a result of this, is affected profoundly. Traditionally in the US, instructors are considered the "Sage on the stage", usually, but in this case moves to the edge (periphery) where she feels she belongs. She has a miniblog, so moves to the side, and then moves off altogether, students take over the "motherblog" which she started.

Thus the course evolves and the students change the course.

Importantly the desired leanring outcome changes because the blog changes everything in the classroom. So what is an effective outcome? A formal paper with refs?

only 10% of BG's studens become academics; how do we train the other 90% (or what do we train them to do?) New forms of expression other than academic writing?

Instead, this fluid mix, including video , images, audio et. Students come across external experts as well, to discuss with the students. The experts are affected also, e.g arts gallery owerns, writers, etc. The students change the way that these people view their job. By seeing that they can have an effect, the students become more engaged in the process.

Possible future directions include:

Project based & service learning gets integrated into this education.

Students go on to field studies and continue to blog. Field studies create isolation and so blogging keep them in touch. Also connecting with elementary schools and having 'blogging buddies'.

blogs as portfolios --> lifelong record of accomplishment and mastery

Blog creates exceptional portfolio which can persist.

What is happening in classrooms that do this is that one prepares students to be citizens of a community rather than selfish, isolated individuals cloistering information to be delivered for evaluation.

<<cyp: comment -> BG is using group blogs rather than individual blogs>>

Tom de Bruyne - blogging in higher education: 10 thoughts/lessons

A picture of Tom as a gay biker is somewhere in the presentation! will talk about porn!!!

*that got your attention!*

Started with blogs as a thing that students could experiment with, a personal playground. So students started to use blogs in two phases, firstly as ordinary blogs. Within 2 months they started a class site - complete communication technology site.

Were free to change or screw up the blog lay-out. Only after a few months were they into usability and design. Once it was running they didn't want to change the format. once they had basic funcationality they didn't car about extra plugins or other tools.

Second lesson, most interesting thing was that it opened up new possiblities for giving assignments. Good for multimedia, not suitable for all courses. Picked out interesting things on the interenet and did stuff with it.

Rear mirror principle (McLuhan): when you have a new medium and look back towards old media, you see the limits + opportunities of it. <<Ref:>> - photofuck friday, i.e. file manipulation in photoshop (teach photoshop too). But called it Photoshop Tuesday.

Usability - use the Websites That Suck idea - look at crappy designs to give a fun element to usability. Instead of teachign does and don't, they looked for crappy sites.

thematic weeks - e.g. ecommerce week, photoshop week, etc.

rear Mirror Principle (mcLuhan) is that when you have a new medium and you look from the new medium backwareds at the older traditional medium, you see the limits of ti, yhou see the opportunities of the *new*(?) , so by looking at the rear mirror at education saw there were more fun thbings to do.

Photoshop - 'icey hot teachaz', and 'pink moto drivers'

blogging vs e-learning platforms

Lots of differences, but blogging preferable because it has advantages: - transparency and openness, open to public but elearning platform is not. fewer clicks, so easier to u se and kmore eager to use - can post more media on blogs, images, films, audio etc. - elearning platform can complement blog brcause can put materials on it - blog became place to hang around, which you can't do with elearning platform - made the group to be more like a community, improved dialogue - less structured, bottom up not top down - blog was self-marketing, open to everyone so some poeple looking for interns found them on the blog.

Cross channelling Can't do everything on a blog - if going off topic, organising party, then takes it off the blogg onto MSN. Used mailing list for launching some aspects such as Photoshop Tuesday

Internship Diary used diaries using the internship - students kept daily diary and other people could comment on it. Said they had to do it so that internship could be evaluated, but they loved doing it anyway. because: - shared frustrations - sought advice - two students did internship in a mujltimedia co. and had to deconstruct porn in order to create a porn game. very popular diary. - as evaluation tool for external and internal promotors - created lots of reading and commenting

blog changed their real life relationships - silent students enhanced their social statues, more room for wittiness than in the class-room. some gained social status they would hnever have had just in the class because the blog gave them the opportunity to express themselves - informalised relationship between students and teachers

Blogs are not a virtual classroom but there's a mutual reinforcement with the irl classes.

Blogs good for annotating the course material, add links. comments added as meta-annotations - annotations on annotations of the course material allowed teachers to collect interesting material for future courses not for concrete question though - mailing list more suitable need a protocol - what's offtopic and what do yhou do with it. people always set up rules, so no need to impose rules.

Difficulties Embarrassing silences - blog appears to be dead and that doesn't encourage more posting Means vs end-contracts sometimes results in crappy layouts - screwing up is part of the learning process. If stuff is too crappy it can be corrected. Dissemination of best practices between teachers. When one teachers has a good experience and communicates this to others it gives them ideas about how to do it in the future. Mutual jealousy.

Challenges To use blog more as a km tool. All communications that goes through the MSN group, mailing list etc. should be collected as a shared archive Social networking, to stay in touch with ex-students, because they can help the new students, e.g. to find an internship. PR value for the programme for new students Educational - good challenge is the public evaluation of assignments, e.g. the photoshop tasks. if the teacher gives comments on the posts, each student can learn from the other experiences and comments.

Info, questions, hate mail: oops... turned off...

ppt file at


sorry, missed first one

Teacher Will Richardson,, is a clearing house for ideas for schools, in states.

Tom's students are all 20/21 or so. Good for teenagers thought because is makes it fun.

Q: Using blogs appears to be a success. but even in a comms class there are students taht fail to engage. how do these peole affect the classes?

SF: we were not always successful, e.g. attaching blogs to existing classes and that met brick walls, re. assessment structures etc. His course is not compulsory, and try to deal with the people who have a hard time, but need to prepare ofr it. But because infrastrucutre is sound, can use it as diagnostic device too. Easier to get back to the person to talk to them and get out of that information driven engagement and do mor ecouncesilling

BG: we don't expect all our students to be equally good at everything, but hyet we expect them all to gain these skills. But if it's a function of the community then there's some pressure on them, of being in the public eye, but the blog is so flexible, they're publishing all their work on the blog. So it lifts the stakes and evens out the terrain because some are better at stuff tahtn others. Few resist after 3rd week.

T: use psychological terror: the motivation of belonging - tell people when they are the only person not posting because they don't want to be the only one.

Q: If students blogs are public, what are the legal issues, in some countries you're not allowed to request that students publish publicly.

T: good question, as since we decided nexst year to do some evaluation of assignmetns on the blog, that's not something you want to do in public, so yes, has to be password protected. The surroundings are public, though, so they won't get humiliated publicly.

BGL: careful about copyright. have had students called home by monther because she didn't like it. But is an issue wtih younger students, and there are a lot of permissions that need to be acquired. But there is a classroom blog *teacher to student, which is open, but the students' are some open some closed. but never seen legal issues.

SF: I don't have any legal issues on my horizon, because they're young adults. But this is part of the learning process as well, that you are 'open sourcing yourself'. or part of yourself, and that's an important distinction to make. Personal and collective publishing in a wider context they are an open tool - they are supposed to be open, so you have to decide when it is appropriate and when you want to move to another platform like irc or a pohone call. Opening yourserlf to criticism from other people - in terms of teachers criticising the course.

Links to write-ups for this panel

Please add your links here if you have written about this panel on your weblog

Lilia Efimova - [WWW]Trip report: blogs and wikis implemented