Category Archives: Teaching

Academic blogging

Kate, from our ITD department, wrote a little about blogging on the new ITD News blog, and mentioned my blog. She also dropped the subtle hint to me that perhaps I could post some more about academic blogging?

So, here’s a few points from a handout I did for a workshop a little while ago.

Given that academic life has traditionally valued, at its heart, lively discussion and debate, it is not surprising that many academics have adopted blogging, both as a part of their own academic work, and also in their teaching programs.

The following outline just some potential uses of blogs by staff and students.

Staff (individuals)

    • For teaching – eg, supplementing WebCT through general discussion of issues, references to links, modeling blogging for student assignments
    • For reflection on teaching practice, and networking with other teachers, students etc to develop teaching practice
    • For research – exploration of issues, drafts of papers for feedback, networking with other scholars internationally
    • For building professional identity within a community of practice
    • For community involvement – commentary on issues, interaction with the broader community, sharing/publication of research
    • For professional development – reflection on practice

Staff (discipline/research groups)

    • For collaborative teaching and research
    • For community engagement
    • For publication and scholarly activity

Postgraduate students

    • For research – exploration of issues, drafts of papers, networking with other scholars internationally
    • For learning – formal course work, informal exploration of issues, reflection on learning

Undergraduate students

    • For learning – formal class work, informal exploration of issues, participation in scholarly and broader community, learning about effective web interaction and responsibility.
    • For building a professional identity – presenting their professional learning and journey as part of a community of practice
    • For collaboration – encouraging conversation and embedding ongoing learning in a social, collaborative experience – part of the ‘e-commons’
    • For community building – college activities, other UNE activities, the UNE experience, the student experience whether on-campus or off-campus

Our ITD area has now set-up an installation of WordPress MU, so UNE staff or students who wish to have a blog for their teaching, research, professional work, or community involvement can go here to sign up for one.  The process is simple and only takes a minute. I’m currently talking with ITD about adapting some resources to develop a guide for using the WordPress installation – more news as it eventuates.

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Emerging formats – interactive commentary on documents

Yes, the blog has been quiet lately – not because there’s been nothing to discuss, but more because there’s been too much – so many ideas, thoughts, happenings and interesting things I’ve come across that I haven’t had time to focus on one or two enough to make a coherent blog post!

I love the blog, if:book from the Institute for the Future of the Book. There are always fascinating and challenging projects and ideas being posted and discussed, pushing the boundaries – or sometimes operating right outside them.

One of their recent projects is particularly interesting:

Last month we published an online edition of the Iraq Study Group Report in a new format we’re developing (in-house name is “Comment Press”) that allows readers to enter into conversation with a text and with one another. This was a first step in a creative partnership with Lewis Lapham and Lapham’s Quarterly, a new journal that will look at contemporary issues through the lens of history. Launching only a few days before Christmas, the timing was certainly against us. Only a handful of commenters showed up in those first few days, slowing down almost to a halt as the holiday hibernation period set in. Since New Year’s, however, the site has been picking up momentum and has now amassed a sizable batch of commentary on the Report from a diverse group of respondents including Howard Zinn, Frances FitzGerald and Gary Hart.

While that discussion continues to develop in the Report’s margins, we are following it up with a companion text: the transcript and video of President Bush’s address to the nation last night where he outlined his new strategy for Iraq, presented in a similarly Talmudic fashion with commentary accreting around the central text. To these two documents invited readers and other interested members of the public can continue to append their comments, criticisms and clarifications, “at liberty to find,” in Lapham’s words, “‘the way forward’ in or out of Iraq, back to the future or across the Potomac and into the trees.”

It’s worth a look at the site, not just for interesting commentary on a significant current issues, but the format may well be a useful one in an educational context. I can see a lot of applications for this sort of interactive structure in our teaching programs, particularly in terms of policy or text analysis.

Online learning blog links

I had the pleasure last week of working for a day and a half with a group of staff from one of our academic departments, planning a significant project that will see two full programs redeveloped for online teaching over the next two years. The energy, enthusiasm, and openness to ideas of the group was inspiring, and a delight to be involved with.

I promised that I’d put a few links here for them of interesting blogs to do with teaching and learning online:

Wiki of academic blogs

bgblogging – Barbara Ganley uses blogs extensively in her teaching, and reflects in that in this blog.

2 cents Worth – David Warlick’s ‘Occasional thoughts about education teaching, learning & the 21st century’

blog of proximal development – Konrad Glogowski’s blo on ‘teaching.blogging.learning’

EdWired – a weblog devoted to the teaching nad learning of history online

Blogging Pedagogy – ‘a blog about pedagogy and English studies’ from the University of TexasETC @ BMC – Education and Technology at Bryn Mawr College

Christopher D Sessums :: Blog -Teaching, learning, and computing
While Christopher works in the schools sector, his thoughtful and reflective posts are often relevant to all levels of learning.

Tama’s eLearning Blog – ‘an eLearning blog with podcasting & blogospheric inclinations’
Tama Leavy is a lecturer in Higher Education in the Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning at the University of Western Australia.

academhack – TechTools for Academics

Teaching Carnival 16

The 16th Teaching Carnival is up over at Ancarett’s Abode.

The Carnival has links to recent posts in the educational blogosphere on student blogging, syllabi,  student-centered learning, coping in the classroom, group work, assessment, learning, the profession, and much, much more.

There’s some great reading, and I’ve already added several new links to my del.icio.us bookmarks.

OpenLearn – the way of the future?

The Open University in the UK has recently launched its OpenLearn website, which makes ‘educational resources freely available on the internet, with state of the art learning support and collaboration tools to connect learners and educators.’

They already have quite a range of modules available across a range of discipline areas, using Moodle as their LMS.

What may also be of interest to some is the associated LabSpace site, established to share and reuse educational resources. All the content from OpenLearn can be downloaded, adapted, and used and adapted versions uploaded to the site.

Both sites are worth a look. I’ve been experimenting with Moodle a little lately, and it’s interesting to see it in action in a major site. It’s also interesting to have a look at the approach they’ve taken to the learning design in the various modules – the ones I’ve glanced at are more structured and step-by-step than we normally do here, but that’s probably appropriate for the open access nature of the project.

Developments like this and MIT’s OpenCourseWare , plus other projects such as Google Scholar and the trends to make academic journals freely accessible, do challenge us to consider what the future of higher education is – if the learning content is freely available, why should students enrol in our institutions, for an expensive three-year or more degree? What is it that we will be giving them? If we’re going to be about more than just assessment and awarding formal qualifications, how do we make the learning process more engaging and rewarding for our students?
What are the implications for our future?

Forthcoming workshops

Next week, I’ll be offering several times a 2-hour workshop on ‘Tools for Online Teaching’ for colleagues at UNE.

Since the recent changes to the ‘une-official’ email list, it’s a little hard to get the word out about workshops and other news, hence posting some information here for the benefit of any UNE staff who drop by!

The details of the sessions are as follows:

Tools for online learning

This ‘hands-on’ session will explore some of the new tools and social software that can be used to support and enhance student collaboration, engagement and learning. Tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, audio and video files, animations and student presentations will be explored and examples discussed of how these can be used effectively in University education.

It is highly recommended for ALL staff engaged in, or considering, online teaching.

The session will be offered four times next week:
Monday 11th September – 11am to 1pm (booked out!)
Tuesday 12th September – 2pm to 4pm
Wednesday 13th September – 11am to 1pm
Thursday 14th September – 2pm to 4pm

Please note that due to a limitation on places in the computer lab, bookings are required. These can be made online at http://www.une.edu.au/tlc/workshops or by phoning Kerryn Reeves.

Teaching and other Carnivals

Sorry for the absence of posts lately – I’ve been away on leave, enjoying a couple of weeks in the outback.

The 11th Teaching Carnival is now up at WorkBook . What’s a Carnival, you might ask? In the blog sense, a Carnival is a collection of links to interesting recent posts in the particular field or discipline. The Teaching Carnival is published every two weeks or so, an relates to blog entries about teaching in Higher Education. It’s a great way to get an overview about what university teachers are blogging about in relation to their teaching.

As an example, here’s the Teaching and Technology section of the 11th Teaching Carnival:

Carrie Shanafelt is trying out a Wiki for her British Literature class to facilitate the sharing of student work. She hopes that “[t]he creation of a wiki…would render these [assigned historical context] memos in an attractive, interconnected, easily browsable format that would ensure that they don’t get lost or forgotten in the bottoms of bookbags”.

Originally posted on the Humanist listserv, Alan Liu’s proposed policy for appropriate student use of Wikipedia generated significant online buzz, both on that listserv (1, 2, 3) and at Kairosnews, one of Jonathan Goodwin’s class blogs, cac.ophony.org, and the CHE‘s Wired Campus Blog.

Metaspencer explains the answer to “Why course websites?

At Academic Commons, Susan Sipple discusses Digitized Audio Commentary in First Year Writing Classes, and Derek Mueller has tried commenting with audio in some online courses. At the Rhetorical Situation, Oxymoron finds online students more willing to engage in discussion than in-class students usually are.

While I have a set of regular blogs that I subscribe to via RSS*, Carnivals provide an additional, easy way of seeing what’s current in the blogosphere of disciplines I’m interested in.

Other Carnivals I’ve come across include:

There’s also a list of Carnivals over at Blog Carnival – but many of these are not academic in nature. I’d love to hear about other Carnivals that are relevant to academic work.
*Links from the Teaching Carnival led me to a good explanation of RSS over at academHack.