This chapter was the most enjoyable chapter to read this far. It chronicles the findings of Jean Burgess’ two blogging courses. Her documented experience is amazingly interesting, especially considering we are in a class that seems nearly mirror by hers. Nearly every paragraph has a point or two that can be related to Weblogs and Wikis (en3177) in some way, which makes for a gripping read. The material provided sounds as if it could be Professor Morgan’s hypothesis following his first Weblog course. Maybe he should write an article about his experience. Perhaps he has? Is he holding out on us?
I am starting to realize these articles are packed full of things to focus on and in order to save time I need to begin nailing down six or seven things instead of the entire chapter as a whole. So, there are seven things I will be discussing here in this post; they will be separated into grafs.
As stated above, Burgess taught two experimental university courses on the use of weblogs. With this came problems, especially in integrating literacy and social communication skills. I could not help but wish I could some day be in a “popular music subculture” weblog course. Sounds exhilarating. The course content is very similar to ours in many ways, which is interesting to read about. The two class were different in focus, but similar in content. I found it interesting that Burgess choose Blogger, and does mention WordPress as “walled garden” solution. I have used both, and they do both have their advantages and disadvantages. Blogger is somewhere you can spread your wings, while WordPress is very organized and neat.
Burgess then moves on to something she calls “blogging literacies.” There are three computer literacies: critical, creative and network. Critical being a deep, socially contextualized and informed understanding of technology. The effective use of technology in education, work and community contexts is seen as creative. Burgess believes that network literacy is most important, it is defined as the ability to effectively and ethically manipulate a range of technologies to communicate, construct, and share knowledge.
Burgess talks about her students struggling the grasp the material and the amount of work it takes to run a successful blog here:
With this comes an expectation of greater intellectual and creative autonomy on behalf of the students, an expectation for which they are not necessarily well prepared at first, and which can take them by surprise.
On many occasions you have mentioned that we should and need to dive into the material without fully grasping what we are getting into at first. We may not be prepared for it, but it is necessary for our greater learning. I have noticed, and you mention this on our second class meeting, that some students were taken back the workload and the fact that they being held accountable to get the weekly tasks done. It is interesting that Burgess had the same problem.
Switching gears a bit, some scholars believe genres of blogging are “remediations” of older writing genres, such as journals, essays, and letters. They are absolutely right. But it is not the only way in which they can be used. Many people do use blogs as their own personal journals and do not care if anyone reads it. Others use it as an academic tool to help them document their written achievements as well as learn. Many people use Facebook or other sites like that to write letters to people whom they are out of touch with. The purpose of their investigation was to discover which remediated genres motivated the students most. Burgess’ students lacked a writerly voice, which should come as no surprise. This type of learning is not for everyone. If you have the time, this “Into to Blogosphere” post is extremely helpful and educational. A lot of great statistics within it.
Burgess learned, and I think Professor Morgan has as well, is that if we give students a voice, they will certainly use it. Some post personal topics and ideas, others rant and rave. Some bitch, some complain. It is all apart of the process. I believe you get what you put into the class. Blogging will likely be apart of my profession when I start my career, so this course interests me and has me learning day after day. Others students likely just need a 3000 level course and are more interested in Shakespeare, poetry, and British literature. And that is fine. One of Burgess’ students critiqued the class and practically bashed the class with a post spanning over 700 words. While this has not happened in our class, I have read posts that make it known that they believe their is too much work to be done and that they are lost, behind, unable to get the job done. This is not an easy class to excel in, nor teach. But it is a learning experience, and that is what I am paying money for.
I thought it was pretty funny to hear the students’ initial reactions to the course. Some took to it “like ducks to water,” but others were:
bemused, reluctant, or downright hostile to the idea.
Sounds accurate and somewhat familiar.
The requirement to focus on until content makes it challenging to make authentic and dynamic posts. It also makes it difficult to engage as much as possible. I feel as if this class focused on virtual cultures my participation and grades could slip, maybe not, but it is possible. I enjoy the freedom of this course too much. We are given guidelines, ideas, possibilities and it is up to us to choose our path. What more could we ask for?
The article ends with a very good summarization of what was learned and a realization that this is all an experiment. Isn’t that life though?
The payoff will be learners who are both more engaged with the world around them, and better equipped to be active, literate, and critical participants in an increasingly networked and technologically complex world.
I believe that this statement could be OUR course statement (in a nutshell). Just reading this statement should makes me realize how much I have learned, and how much I have yet to learn. It’s exciting. Here is a link to her book, called Youtube.