Today I took all of the students in my eighteenth-century novel course to the computer lab and had them all log in simultaneously to the Movable Type install I have running in my account on Jeff‘s server. They composed an entry each, saved it as a draft, published it, viewed it in the blogspace, then commented on someone else’s entry.
No glitches. Not a single one. I am stunned. I have never had such a flawless in-class experience with a piece of software. No one got stuck. No one became so confused they couldn’t figure out what they were supposed to do.
All this from free software.
I am so going to learn Liz Lawley‘s implementation of MT as courseware.
I also used blogs in the Digital Directions class I taught over the summer. I used blogger. The students really liked it, but the one problem was that the students couldn’t comment on each other’s writing directly. I had them make comments about others’ writings on their own blog, but it was interesting. Actually getting a comment from someone else on your own blog is much more gratifying. It’s like when you were a kid and you turned in your journal and the teacher wrote on it. Then, you knew. You knew that entry was . . . provoking! That’s a good feeling. And, I think that’s one of the reasons (if not the main reason) that blogging has taken off. Without the commenting, how would we know we had an audience? Without the audience (as we learn in English 101), what’s the exigence to write? Why not just write in a journal instead . . . Anyway, I’m also trying to get my English 101 students writing on the computer. This semester I’m using WebCT, but next time, I’m switching back to the blogs.
Yes, it would seem that the awareness of the presence of the audience is a big part of blogging. If no one reads, why do it? I’ve seen many people comment with disappointment on the low numbers of visitors their blogs get at certain points. For students in writing courses, I think this is a major benefit.
i don’t know. I don’t write just so I got an audience. I work more in front of my computers when I’m not working and ever since I used computers, my handwriting has became a challenge to read, even to me. So writing online journal is very convenient. I do also wonder what would people think when they read my journal…but most of the time I dont really care.
But again, I would love to use blogs for my class…I just need to find out how to use MT though. It’s neat and i’ve seen tons of bloggers under MT…although I still have a lot to learn. And in addition, I don’t think I can afford a server…I don’t get any extra budget even for my students to be able to post their works online, they all have to work it out themselves as well. A pity really. Any idea George? Would really really appreciate it :)
I would suggest taking a look at http://www.typepad.com
You don’t have to host your own installation of MT, and it’s not too expensive. You could require students to sign up for their own accounts, too, which start at only $4.95 a month. For a three-month course, their blogging costs would be about equal to the cost of another book.