Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Why Web Pages?

July 25, 2008

I have never tried to hide the fact of my technological ineptitude, not here or not on my currently incomplete, half-assed webpage.  It was during my tenure at the University of Florida where I was lucky enough to teach in the now-sadly-decaying Networked Writing Environment where I became interested and compelled to learn how and why to integrate technology into my teaching.  I experimented with the MOO environment and attempted to learn how to integrate my own web page and student web pages into the curriculum.  My eagerness certainly outran my abilities.  I embraced the possibilities head-on, but in the midst of my dissertation work (which in hindsight I realize I should have shifted into a rhet-comp project, judging from my current interests and the fact that it seems odd to have an “American Lit” degree when I’m not sure “Literature” exists, only rhetoric) and my job hunt, I never really learned the technology to properly support my ideas.

At the time, I never ventured into blogging as a teaching tool, however.  The world of blogging has really opened up recently for me.  I have used it as a tool in several classes, most effectively in my intro composition course, “Knowledge, Culture, and the Liberal Arts.” Here, too, I have “seen the light” and am incorporating blogs into my courses fairly frequently now.  My primary interest in using the blog is as a way to help students see writing as an act of community.  Writing is too often presented as an act within a vacuum rather than a form of community dialogue.  The blog really opens this up for students.  It is also a very easy method to do the logistical work that I had learned to do through my web page.

One of the great things about a web page initially was that with very few skills I could have a central page where everything could be posted, assignment updates, readings, etc.  Now I use moodle to update any assignments, and I post any other changes onto the blog and tell students they need to check the blog for my postings and each others’ every day.  It works like a charm.

The question now is what purpose I want my web page to serve.  One of my goals for August was to spend a little time with my webpage, update it, learn how to make it look a little more spiffy etc.  But I also find myself asking why.  I am no longer sure what role it plays in my personal or my teaching life.  It’s as if I outgrew my webpage before I even learned how to really make an effective one.  I’d like to still work on it, but given the limited projects I can really invest in, do I have the time to really make working on it worthwhile?  It has lost priority and now sits out there in limbo.  So, what I really need to do this August is spend some time re-evaluating what tools I most want to use and why and how and consider where to put my meager efforts.  I feel sad, though, thinking of my poor little website adrift without a purpose.  Maybe it’s really just an advertising medium now to sell my book.  My webpage goes commerical.

Mardi Gras Blizzard

February 6, 2008

We had a lovely 13 inches or so of snow for Mardi Gras here in Cedar Rapids. So, as the snow dumped outside, the pot of veggie gumbo boiled away (Boca sausages and Qorn chicken tenders if you want to know) with some sourdough bread and Dixie Blackened Voodoo and Abita Turbodog and plenty of Dr. John, Clifton Chenier, Steve Riley, Earl King and others on the stereo. Yes, I know the Dixie is kind of silly, the New Orleans heritage now brewed in Wisconsin, huh? It’s not that great of a beer either but I had to see how it was doing. The Abita, now, that’s another story. I know Abita sometimes gets a bad name, but I actually like their beer–the turbo especially–but maybe it’s just because it really says New Orleans to me and I love the city. Sometimes I guess it’s hard to distinguish taste from emotion.

On other fronts, my new class is up and running and their blog is starting out nicely. It’s a new process for me, but I like the opportunities it offers. It’s a matter of sorting through what I can do with it and then really thinking about the why. Of course, this early in the class, I’ve already realized an added benefit I hadn’t really considered. With this much snow, we’re missing several sessions but I can still hold conversations with them or ask them to have conversations amongst themselves. This is especially important at Cornell where it’s silly block plan (they take, and we teach, one course at a time for 3 1/2 weeks) means that missing a day really means missing a week in semester-time. I know, I know, I can already hear my colleagues saying “it’s not a silly plan” and to some extent I agree. I am constantly amazed at the innovative ways my colleagues design these courses. So, yes, it’s just silly to me. But the blog at least makes me feel less guilty about not driving in the ice and snow. A nice bonus.