Chapter 9: Blogging to Basics

This article was written some years ago, possibly 2005 or 2006, so the material is a little dated but still relatable nonetheless. Blogs, discussion boards, online classes were very new and still developing at the time. Myspace was a big deal at the time that the article was written in other words.

I believe it is best, as pointed out in the conclusion that was written by Bruns, that we magnify the issues with the article before tackling the information. There are many great ideas and concepts, but the article is very theoretical and their was little-to-none research done on the topic from James Farmer. He mentions that discussion boards are exacerbated by the almost monopolistic use of the tool.

Now, let’s move onto the material from Mr. Farmer. He uses quotes frequently to drive his points across, and the chapter starts with one from Robert Paterson (not to be confused with the Twilight actor). Paterson believes that technology may have an impact on the challenges that face education, but Farmer views it more as a rediscovery of more authentic learning–he believes more online engagement could help teachers and learners reconnect with themselves.

He goes on to say that online education is in a kind of pedagogical crisis–that extensive reconsideration of approaches to teaching and learning online is necessary. He was right. Before I go further, I came across the pedagogical a few times and had to figure out what it meant, I have never read it before. The best definition I could find was “the art or science of teaching; education; instructional methods.”

Farmer exclaims that online education has us struggling with transmissive and communicatively-challenged pedagogies through ignorance and over-usage of technology. He wanders into the art of the discussion board. He states that “in a discussion board environment, it is difficult for users to develop effective social presence.” I could not agree more. Discussion boards have their place on the internet. I have found them quite useful when searching for a specific topics. These topics ranged from computer issues and searching for waterfalls to visit. I can not imagine discussion boards being useful, in and by themselves, for a course. Farmer goes on to say that discussion boards limit the ability to express ourselves, and a contribution can be viewed and read by only one person.

Uncertainty impacts considerably on the ability of individuals to project themselves.

YES. This problem is not just related to discussion boards but blogs as well. You can not force someone to read your material, ideas, thoughts, and concepts; it is up to the blogosphere to find what you are offering to the table. He reiterates his point here:

In a discussion board it is not possible to know who, if anyone, will be reading an utterance, when this will occur, or, unless the user is permanently logged into the discussion board and regularly hitting the refresh key.

The point seems to be here that discussion boards suck–we get it. They are practically obsolete at this point in our lives. I found this interesting article from Worcester Polytechnic Institute which attempts to improve discussion boards using three guidelines. The article was last modified in 2010 and looks to be even older in nature with quotes and links all from before 2005. Online education, in my mind, comes down to this simple sentence by Farmer:

The technology chosen must be appropriate for the task undertaken.

Now we motion more into blogs as a learning tool. This is perhaps my favorite except from the book, it talks the experimental Bud Gipson online class experience:

Gibson found that his approach of providing each student with blogs and then exploring a number of alternative means of aggregation was particularly successful on a purely quantitative measure, with 31 students contributing a stunning 845 posts.

Sound familiar? This paragraph is model of what our class is accomplishing. Quite fascinating.

Farmer describes an early definition of blogs. Here are some of the things I have highlighted: Blogs help users project themselves as “real” people. Bloggers are writing to their own area and context, designed to there liking. One can retain ownership of their writing, editing at will, refer to previous items and ideas. A blog is a reflective medium. Bloggers are able to express themselves, constructing and confirming meaning through sustained reflection and discourse.

He mentions the words photoblog, audioblog and videoblog–oh, if he only knew what is available at our disposal today. He seems to be keen of blogs more so than discussion boards, for obvious reasons. He does, however, have reservations on the teachers ability to take control of the class, but he has never met Mr. Morgan. Farmer talks a little more in depth about the rise of blogs, which I will not get into because we have already been down that road last week. His correlation between blogs and aggregation is spot on though, as Professor Morgan connects the two quite often.


One response to “Chapter 9: Blogging to Basics

  1. Pingback: Week 4: Comments, Use of Blogs Extended, and Manifestos | Jack in the Box·

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