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Blogging should definitely be part of Writing for the Web, but in what way? Idealistically, students should be able to write about anything they really like and in a form they prefer on their blogs. Yet, as Stephen D. Krause points out in "Comments on Collin Brooks's "“Weblogs as Deictic Systems”" and in "When Blogging Goes Bad", they just aren't motivated to write. The idea of students eagerly blogging and building a blogging community appeals to me, but quite frankly, I agree with Krause's assessment. The question then must be: how do I supply the structure without limiting students' creativity both in topic and construction?

During my graduate practicum in teaching computer mediated composition, I created my first blog. It wasn't by choice. Heck, I didn't even know what a blog was. Who did back then? My classmates also constructed blogs, and we were to read and comment on each other's blogs over the course of the year (yep, that's right, a year long practicum in comp). If my instructor was hoping for a thriving blogging community, she was sadly disappointed. The only times we ever blogged were when she gave us a specific assignment to do so, and we might have referred once or twice to what someone else had written, but we certainly didn't comment directly. None of us have written in these blogs since the year ended.

That's not to say that we aren't blogging; we are on our own topics and without a built-in community. So why didn't we then? What element caused this community to take a huge nose-dive? Was it actually knowing we had an audience? We would be graded? We weren't really free to express our thoughts because in any "class-room driven community," there will of course be so many political, social and cultural undercurrents, and of course, our grades were at stake.

So, I know my students will write if I give them an assignment, but they will be crippled. Yet, as Krause suggests and I agree, they will be almost paralyzed if I move in the other direction. I wonder what would happen if I asked students to keep two entirely different blogs….one that I provide assignments for from class readings and one that they do on a topic they enjoy. It would probably be too much work to assign, but I'd love to know the answer.

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2 Comments

  1. It would be interesting to try. I believe the blog the students write on a topic of their choosing would provide the best indicator of their writing and creativity, if required to use the english language rather than web speak. Nice article, thought provoking.

  2. Thanks, haikushoe–great blog, by the way.


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