Note to readers

This is a blog that I'm required to keep that's full of unedited, near stream-of-consciousness reactions to similarly required and related readings in a graduate course in N.C. State University's Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program. The way these posts are written help me interrogate and understand what's going on in our readings. I'm identifying what's troublesome so that I can give it more thought, but the posts aren't written in a style that's productive for audiences outside of our class to read. That's by design. I start with contestation, then spend heavens only knows how long researching, recutting, and reevaluating so that I can try and see what potentially productive readings I can extract from these source for use in my own work's contributions back to the field. Comments encouraged, but please, you'll likely need a thick skin if your work is quoted here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

quick quotes from Kim

Current e-education systems were built in a centralized environment (Dalsgaard, 2006; Rick & Lamberty, 2005; Weingardt, 2004) in which students need to visit a major hub site (e.g., Blackboard) to participate in communication. Therefore, students have no clue whether discussion is initiated and in progress on the hub site unless they receive a notice or regularly visit the site.

The claim of a client-server bias against students participating was an interesting thread through the article. The implicit argument seems to be that giving students the feeling of ownership in their blog(s) invites more contributions and builds community, recommending a distributed p2p style sharing instead. Certainly a sort of very basic digital structuralism.

Yet the p2p style also works at cross purposes in the sense that it makes the blogs' use more time intensive for the instructor.

So take for instance...

It was discovered that 94% of the students often checked an online communication site to see whether their own posts were replied to by other peer students.

The follow up on comments is where there's no real, built-in support inside of blogs to ensure that comments develop into sustained conversations, letting other students know when a post has received them (that is, if Student A comments on Student B's blog, Student B might be alerted, but Student C most likely isn't). This is where the instructor comes in, who needs to find comments and raise those conversations in class.

Doing so would be one heck of a time intensive task for instructors. it could be automated, but that would require a great deal of coordination and upfront prep time from instructor. if different blog engines are used, that only complicates the matter of coordinating comments, yet the ability to use many engines likely contributes a bit towards that ownership for students from the first quote and, in many cases, plays on familiarity, an important issue when one deals with "non-technical Internet users".

A blog is regarded as easy-to-use in terms of publishing on the Web (Divitini et al., 2005; Lin & Yuan, 2006). In the early blogging days, the late 1990s, bloggers were required to manually code their blogs by hand (Du & Wagner, 2006). However, current blog technology supports users to easily publish contents with various blogging tools (Herring, Scheidt, Wright, & Bonus, 2005). Bloggers no longer suffer from writing HTML code. As a result, the blogging phenomenon might be positively influenced by the easy-to-use that is facilitated with blogging support tools, such as user-friendly editors, permalink, trackback, blogroll, and alert system of other bloggers’ comments

I'd still argue that to be a particularly adept blogger requires understanding and using these skills. Let's not say that bloggers "suffer" from html; it is another resource for online composition. If the html code of blogging has gone RAD (rapid application development), like Visual Basic did with coding for Windows, then there are strengths and weaknesses there... yet even the image code for embedding images in blogger...

(long URLs made a little bit smaller so they don't wrap)
<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href=""> <img style="display:block; margin:0px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" src="" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5241609058407214114" /></a>

or slapping in a YouTube video...

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie"
value=""></param> <param
name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param> <embed
src="" t
ype="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" width="425"
height="344"></embed> </object>

... remains pretty technical. The useage might be ctrl-a, ctrl-c, alt-tab, ctrl-v, but the code is naked.

It's also useful to more closely interrogate this quote:
In addition, a key feature of blogs is an open system. According to Hendrick and Kleiner (Hendrick & Kleiner, 2001, p. 24), the open system is defined as ‘‘a work system has permeable boundaries exposed to the environment in which they exist”.

again, what we're doing is playing on familiarity and habits to appropriate this "lesuire" activity and habitualized activity to increase engagment with academic materials.

There is a real imprecision with the use of the word "open" here. These are not so much open sites as sites/resources that allow interaction and have established standards for doing so... eg, YouTube contains by default ways of embedding videos in standard html code/web pages, as shown in the [really tiny font of the] example, above. This does not mean the content can be freely used or is open for editing, etc.

And for the final drive-by quote consideration...
In addition, blogs facilitate a series of extended discussions beyond class meetings (Betts & Glogoff, 2004)

Is blogging to create these extended discussions a fair added responsibility for the students? Rather, how much should this be counted in the class requirements and how should other, conventional responsibilities be adjusted to "make up" for the resources spent here? Is a blog a week a short paper, or just note-taking? Different students will approach their blog with different conceptions of what the genre's compositional requirements are.

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