December 4, 2004

Blogs: the superior online teaching tool

Writing for the Internet. What fun. The class I have been mentoring throughout the fall semester is about to end, and my job as mentor also. I will abstain from tears--my keyboard is cheap. :-)

But how do I end this semester in Writing for the Internet? Not with the fun website that I can put in my blog links (by the way, that site is more popular on Google than the original "real" library site woo hoo!), but rather a research paper. Yes, another one.

However, this one might be published--somewhere. I am doing something that may have never been seen before: a hypertext research document.

If you are interested in my toils, please continue.

The idea is that I will put together my paper in paper format and then post it online with links throughout. I am doing my paper--as of now--on the development of the SHU blogosphere in relationship to forums and chatrooms, and I will be linking to the exact blog that I cite in my paper document.

I plan on constructing my research document online in chunks. While I will write the research paper first, I will construct the online document from that research, but with an entirely different format.

After discussing Leslie's research directory page on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I decided I would take a few tips for my own project. Each new page, for example, will have a different purpose: the thesis/introductory page, supporting point pages, and conclusion/more information page.

The point I want to make is how we are, in the blogging community, using a superior form of online communication. While this may seem indisputable, I have found some silly people who think otherwise. Woo hoo for opposing opinions.

As for the development of this research paper, I have been traveling a rocky road. I started out with ideas about how I could address weblogs in general. BIG mistake. It is getting harder and harder to define what a weblog is, as much as we try to.

In comparison to chatrooms, forums, groups, and other forms of interaction presently offered online, the weblog is the best learning online environment for students. The discussion format, flexibility of content, and networking possible in a blogosphere, provides students with an environment that offers extensive interaction between peers, professors, and the "outside" world, which is "essential aspect of any educational experience" (Maor 128). Seton Hill University's blogosphere, specifically, is the exemplification of this learning atmosphere, nuturing both the academic and real world experience.
Supporting Points
Discussion format: Weblog-comments window, whereas in a forums do not, permitting everyone to see the interaction whether or not they want to.

In relationship to forums: "Most of these discourses involve using the web as an information resource and a platform to exchange information between the members of the community, rather than promoting reflective and more complex thinking" (Maor 128).

However, as the Seton Hill blogosphere demonstrates, academic discussions can occur; we are not just information exchange.

As an example of a forum's nature, in the APA Education Forum, the forum's description first indicates that the purpose is to "come together at a national forum to share information" and then

Flexibility of Content:

While students can blog in a personal fashion or in a purely academic manner, blogs offer a flexibility in content that forums or chatrooms cannot offer the student, because many are, in a classroom setting, only between teachers and students (Wallace 241).

In Tiffany Brattina's blog on The Death of a Salesman, for instance, a mix of her experiences with her father, in addition to a reflection on the academic work.


Seton Hill has a great network of blogs, but I may be biased. I want to show in this point how different bloggers cite from other bloggers and make in-depth conversations about what they have said.

Lambe, in her research is noting computer conferencing which offers a group atmosphere that one can comment on at any time. However, blogging, I will note, offers individuals that option of when and how often they will post. Forums, also offer one line of communication down a page; on a blog, though, the discussions can branch out into other blogs.

Some useful quotes I have not placed yet:

"Text-based communications can promote 'thoughtful and reflective commentary...because the act of writing demands greater reflection than speaking" (Schrum quoted in Lambe 353).

"Technological tools for learning are becoming increasingly interactive...these new technologies provide a challenge to make learning an interactive and collaborative experience that is guided by a social constructivist approach to teaching and learning" (Maor 128).

"The role of the teacher in the online environment becomes a significant element in creating quality learning; a task that has required a change in pedagogies for the higher education lecturer" (Maor 128).

Restatement of thesis and thoughtful conclusion (which never works out for me :-()

I am getting things together. WORK IN PROGRESS.

I am kind of miffed because electricity at SHU went out when I did this the first time through. Oh well, I have them highlighted for when I post my paper online, which will, I hope be soon.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at December 4, 2004 1:52 PM

Good start, Amanda!

You might want to take a look at the blog-based hypertext project completed by a former student of mine (who is now in law school).

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at December 6, 2004 5:47 PM

Wow. That is impressive.

Mine will most likely be a very simplistic version of this site. I really like the implementation of graphic screenshots. I didn't get bored at all, and the text/graphic convergence is pretty easy on the eyes.

Posted by: Amanda at December 6, 2004 6:07 PM

Let me know when it's done--I'm interested in reading through your research :)

This could spawn something entirely new, Amanda. Way to pioneer...! (And God-speed to complete it!)

Posted by: Karissa at December 6, 2004 9:29 PM

I will, Karissa. I am trying to compile as much as I can as fast as I can. What a crappy time for my creative juices to start flowing!

Posted by: Amanda at December 7, 2004 7:24 PM

Ooo, let me know if I can help you in any way, too. I can sometimes be a good source of creative outlet, if you know what I mean :) LOL I'd be happy to just read it over before you turn it in, too. Remember to go for quality and not necessarily quantity, dear :D

Posted by: Karissa at December 8, 2004 10:05 AM

I know, I have all my pages pretty much laid out--I am just working on page content now.

Posted by: Amanda at December 9, 2004 12:46 AM
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