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Blogging in the Classroom

man typing at keyboard
photo by yusunkwon, CC license

An interesting article from Ars Technica brings up the idea of using microblogging as a part of classes. Though I havn’t tried it, Twitter seems to be a useless application. Why would I want to talk about what I am doing in 140 characters? And why would people care? Yet, as I think more deeply about its possibilities I begin to see some possible uses. Dorothea Salo has said she has seen reference questions passed around and answered fairly quickly on Twitter networks. Twitter also seems very similar to Facebook’s “status” feature. This can be useful to see what people are up to, how they are feeling, and the like. It can be a very useful social tool for communicating your feelings or exploits or knowing others. It is much easier to read than mannerisms or body language.

It was fascinating to see that students Twittering away outside of class were able to bond better as a community in class. I think this is similar to discussion boards on courseware but much quicker and sexier. I have actually used blogs in multiple class settings and thought it was somewhat useful. You could subscribe to your classmates blog and read their posts on the reading or different questions that came up. The only problem with this is length. Students already have enough reading as it is. Reading 10-20 or more blog posts is just asking too much. The outside of classroom discussion is very useful but is difficult to do in addition to all the other class work. A solution could be limiting blog posts to one short or medium length paragraph and then have longer discussions in the comments. Another good possibility is something like Twitter. With only a few characters to get your message across, the Twitter posts would not be a chore to read or write.

I guess I am starting to see the utility of something like Twitter after all. Maybe I’ll try it out. Are there any other Twitter uses that I have left out? Is microblogging an effective tool for classroom communication?

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Teaching Experience

I really have a new found respect for teachers.  I have been taught all my life and have not realized what is going on behind the scenes when teachers are instructing me.   For my Library and Information Literacy Instruction practicum, I recently taught a library class in which I discussed the finer points of searching and finding articles in Sociological Abstracts.  I will also be teaching a Philosophy class this coming week about finding background information and navigating Philosopher’s Index.   I did not realize all the preparation that was necessary.

To teach a class you first need to figure out what you want the students to be able to do after the class is over.  In other words you must design learning outcomes.  Secondly, you have to figure out how you are going to teach them these skills.  Finally you have to make them prove it.  This means you need to design an activity or worksheet or some other method of seeing whether they can actually do what you want them to.  These steps are not easy either.  They take a lot of thought and creativity.  On top of that you actually have to get up “on stage” and teach them these things, making sure they get it.  Teachers are pretty talented people.

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Self-Improvement

In never ending quest for growth and self improvement I am always bookmarking various websites that I think will aid me. These are some interesting sites and are guaranteed to make you healthier, more productive, and a better person overall:

Power Napping – Ririan Project : This site legitimizes one of my favorite pastimes.nap

How to Slow Down Now – Zen Habits : Life is often at breakneck speed…try taking things a bit slower.

Tea ‘healthier’ drink than water – BBC : Of course the Brits would say that. Still I enjoy the stuff, and now I know it gives me superpowers.

Increase Manly Confidence – The Art of Manliness : This blog is a good one. Interesting posts from Teddy Roosevelt to shaving like a man.

How to Become an Early Riser – Steve Pavlina : This one I haven’t quite implemented yet. But once I do – productivity here I come!