Faculty Showcase Presents Blogging Basics

Posted: March 30, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Fran Rensbarger

The next Faculty Showcase will focus on how weblogs can aid in the classroom. Nada Dabbagh, Graduate School of Education, and Virginia Montecino and Lesley Smith, New Century College, will present “Using Blogging as a Teaching and Learning Tool” on Friday, April 2, noon to 1:30 p.m., in Innovation Hall, Room 334. Lunch will be provided for those who RSVP by Wednesday, March 31.

Dabbagh, Montecino, and Smith will demonstrate how they use weblogs in their courses, and present the lessons and challenges gleaned from their students’ blogging experiences. The three faculty members will also discuss learning goals for blogging.

For those new to weblogs, or “blogs” for short, Rick Reo, faculty support and Townhall account coordinator in the Instructional Resource Center, offers some insight into this popular new form of communication.

“A blog is like a web page, only you don’t have to know HTML to create it or update it. Blogs are formatted in a standard way with a reverse chronologically ordered list of postings or blog entries. Alongside the entries are various features for easily managing links to other web pages, weblogs, or syndicated content,” says Reo. “Blogging originated as a medium for personal journaling or keeping an online diary, but has emerged as a versatile new means for writing on the web.”

Blogging can be a quick and easy means for individuals or groups without technical expertise to publish to the web, but bloggers can simply read and comment on others’ blogs without maintaining one, he says. On weblogs, information can be amplified and evolved by readers commenting on entries and cross-linking to similar blogs.

Reo sees blogging showing promise as an educational tool for personal publishing and journaling, group collaboration, writing development, knowledge building, reference, peer review, and as a general instructional strategy for encouraging student reflection and articulation. “It is a pedagogical tool that draws on our natural social communication channels,” he says.

George Mason’s Townhall course management system recently added a weblog tool to its suite of educational tools. A special interest group formed to explore the instructional uses of weblogs uses Townhall’s weblog tool as the workspace, at this weblog. It is necessary to register in Townhall to access this space. An alternative is to look in the Mason Communities of Practice site.

The showcase is cosponsored by the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Department of Instructional and Technology Support Services Instructional Resource Center. RSVP to Laurie Fathe, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, at 703-993-8652, or e-mail lfathe@gmu.edu.

Another Faculty Showcase is scheduled for April 16 on using WebCT in distance education.

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