Writing and planning

January 14, 2004


It has been a day for writing - scribbling on four and typing in changes - and for planning the nitty-gritty for next semester.

I know I am going to be using a class blog next semester.

I know that this class blog will be linked to my usual static web page with the syllabus, paper topics, and so on.

I know this because the syllabus was due at the department at the start of this week even though classes at Suburban Comprehensive University do not start until Tuesday of next week. Now I have to figure out exactly how I will implement my class blog.

I have in the past created web pages for other professors where they used an html table to direct students to lecture notes for that day's classes. Some of these have been pretty fancy - with digitized images and study questions for each lecture - others have been plain blue tables.

Instead of sharing lecture notes that way, I intend to blog my teaching notes. I know I will blog my simple outline. I do not know if I will blog my entire 2-page set of cryptic teaching notes - I really do write those for me. I know I will blog a couple of paragraphs explaining what I thought we did that day. And, and this is why I am using blog software, I know I will be using haloscan comments to let the kids continue the discussion.

I also know some things I am not going to do. I am not going to put the kids' full names on the web page - the way the national student privacy laws work, they can list themselves but I can not list them. I will encourage them to sign comments firstname-last initial, with any email address that they read regularly. I have told them that participation in electronic comments will count towards their discussion grade - and that means that I have to be able to identify who commented.

I am currently leaning _against_ adding the students to the blog as assistant bloggers. This is a survey taught for sections of 35, and 35 co-bloggers is a LOT of noise. And, while I am requiring weekly writing from them - two papers and eleven 200-word homeworks, this is not technically a writing-intensive class. (Trust me, when I teach a writing intensive class the kids get finger cramps - a dozen 2 page papers, a 10 pager, and exams; or a 5 pager and a 30 pager) What this means is that I do not feel the need to have the kids post their work online and then have a set of study groups who all review and comment on each other's assignments. That sort of public bulletin board is da bomb for writing 101, not so for history intro.

What I will do is let them know that if they want to create their own personal writing pages, I will link to them from the sidebar, and will accept any writing they do on those forums as part of discussion grade. I am pretty sure that if I do not require regular writing, most of them will not do any regular writing; the grading load from opening the class webspace should be minimal. I do not intend to require a journal for the class - I will in some other classes but not in this survey. On the other hand, if they volunteer to post their weekly homework on a public space for other students to read - that would be a very good thing.

Of course, I do not yet have an account on the university's servers. I will build some of these web spaces on my hard drive or on other unix servers that I do have access to in order to debug them, then on Tuesday I will ftp everything over to its new homes.

As I build the spaces I will think some more about how I intend to use them. All I know for sure is that things will change over the course of the semester.

And so to do household chores. Such fun.

Posted by Red Ted at January 14, 2004 09:06 AM | TrackBack