Reverse detail from Kakelbont MS 1, a fifteenth-century French Psalter. This image is in the public domain. Daniel Paul O'Donnell

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About blogs

Posted: Jan 04, 2015 16:01;
Last Modified: Jun 12, 2016 14:06

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In many of my courses you will be expected to maintain a blog. Postings will be required from you most weeks. And every so often you may be asked to review and/or comment on your blog postings and those of your class mates.

The following are some general notes on how I use blogs in my classes and what you will be expected to do. These notes are to be read on conjunction with the class syllabus, which may include additional instructions, rules, expectations, or limitations.

Contents

Why am I being asked to blog?

You are being asked to blog because experience shows that blogging is a good way of collecting your thoughts on a topic, keeping track of your intellectual development, discovering things you want to talk and write about, and building a community with your classmates. Blogs are helpful because they uncover trends in the interests and thoughts of the community, provide reference to interesting resources, and maintain a record of problems and solutions encountered throughout the year.

They are also useful because they encourage you to read with a computer nearby. One of the most important advantages of the internet age is the ease with which we can look things up. Blogging can be a way of intellectually profiting from and passing on things you have looked up during your reading.

Finally blogs are important because they are assuming a larger and more important role in scholarly and scientific research dissemination. As the educational and research publishing world changes, blogging is likely to play an even greater role in the future.

What should I blog about?

Unless you are given specific instructions in the course, what you write about in your blog is up to you. Sometimes, you may want to write about something you looked up about a book, author, or project. Other times, you might want to discuss things you didn’t understand or difficult passages you think you can help others with. It might be about emotional responses you had to something we read, a reflection on things discussed in class or in the hallway, a funny anecdote about something to do with the class, or an interesting and relevant web page or video. Sometimes you may want to write about something else entirely—in a blog, all these things are allowed.

Unless you are given more specific instructions for your course, the main requirement is that most of your blog entries should be recognisably connected in some way to something in the current unit of our class’s syllabus and clearly written in good faith. You’re allowed the occasional blog that is not on topic.

Above all, don’t worry too much about topic: if your blogs are consistently off topic or we feel there is some problem with how you are doing it, we will let you know about the problem before we begin penalising you.

How do I blog?

Composing your blog and ensuring it is associated with the class

There are two types of blog postings in Moodle: blogs that are associated with classes and those that are not. When you are being asked to blog for a specific class, it is important that you associate the blog with the relevant class. If you don’t, your instructor and classmates will have no way of seeing your blog unless they search your profile looking for it. In my classes, I don’t count blog entries that I have to go looking for.

Edited screenshot showing link to add blog entry in Moodle The best way of associating your blog with a class is to use the link found within the class space in Moodle. If blogging has been enabled by your class instructor, you should see a menu block somewhere on the page that looks something like the one illustrated here (in my classes this menu is usually in the top right corner).

On this menu, there are two links that take you to the blog composition interface: “Add an entry about this class” and “Add a new entry.” Of these, the one you should use is the top one, “Add an entry about this class” (highlighted in red in the above image). If you use this, a tag is added automatically to the blog, which groups it with the entries from the other students.

Using the blog interface.

You can write your blog in the provided interface or write it offline and paste it in the text box. I usually use the interface, but it is always possible if you do that that you will make a mistake or there will be a system error and you lose some or all of your work. For that reason it is smart in Moodle to save your work periodically.

The blog interface looks more or less like a wordprocessor. There are also options for working directly with the HTML code (useful for complicated pages, if you know what you are doing) or using various wiki-style markups (e.g. as in the Wikipedia, or using Markdown

Can I read my classmates’ blogs?

If you use the correct link, your blog will be associated with the class. This means that your fellow students (and I) can find it easily. You navigate to the class blogs using the same menu you used to associate your blog with class (i.e. as in the image above). This time choose “View all entries for this course.”

How am I being graded?

Unless your course syllabus states otherwise, your blogs are being graded on a pass-fail basis solely on whether you appear to have made a good faith effort to participate. In weeks where you write nothing or write blog entries that do not show what looks like a good faith effort to participate, you will receive a grade of 0% (though you will be warned before we start penalising you for writing blogs we do not think are in good faith); blog entries that look like you made at least some good faith effort to participate in the discussion and are on time (if deadlines were assigned on the class syllabus), will receive a grade of 100%.

What if I write more blogs than required?

Student may write a maximum of three blogs per week for credit (Unless your syllabus indicates otherwise, you will be required to write a minimum of one blog per week on average).

Depending on the course, the additional blogs (up to 2 per week) may be count either for bonus marks or towards a badge.

Bonus marks

If your course counts extra blogs for bonus marks, my standard is 1/2 mark for the second and third blog each week (i.e. if you write three blogs in a week, you can earn 2 points for the week instead of 1). Check your class syllabus for additional restrictions or details.

Badges

If your course counts extra blogs towards badges, then my standard is as follows:

What about comments?

Unless your are instructed otherwise, you are not required to comment on blogs. If you do, this will be considered as evidence of participation.

Can I use material from my blog in other assignments?

Yes. Your essay and/or other assignments can reuse material from your blog. You can also post essays and other forms of writing as blogs.

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