Landing : Athabascau University


I hope I just coined that. Now to trademark it and make a zillion dollars suing infringers. What's that, Google? Oh, I guess I didn't.

Anyway. Here are some notes towards my take on pedablogy.

Blogs in teaching

I've used LMS-housed blog apps (in Blackboard mostly) as the medium for critical response assignments in undergraduate English and communication studies courses. "Critical response" is my term for reflective journal-keeping about assigned readings, similar (I think) to the blogging practice George described in today's teleclass. (Can I claim that coinage at least? No? Okay.) Semantics are as important as medium: when I had previously taught the same assignment as a "reading journal," the students' work was much more impressionistic and unfocused.

Anyway. What I like about assigning critical responses in blog form is that students comfortable with comments can make theirs accessible to the whole class, while more reserved students can keep theirs private. I also link the blog's internal hypertextuality; one class tasked with critical responses to podcasts and DJ mixes was required to include in the critical response posting a link to the audio text in question.

Blogs in my own learning

I blog (and microblog) to air out early research ideas, to chronicle research events, to “crowdsource” research questions, to archive data and references, and sometimes to write up my own critical responses: mini-essays, probes, footnotes to articles that don't exist. (And, sure, to shamelessly self-promote new publications as well.) I feed Twitter and Delicious to my Wordpress blog; these sustain a semblance of ongoing activity during stretches when I can't make time to update the blog proper. (Maybe personal, multi-SNS aggregation could be called a kind of metablogging. Oh wait, I can't claim that one either.)

Blogs in designing and teaching AU courses

I plan to assign a blog-based critical response assignment in the MAIS course I'm now developing. I'm also considering a group-written annotated bibliography assignment, but the collaborative aspect of that warrants Wiki work more than individualized blogging.

Given the abudance of reading material being shared among everyone in this course, I'm also starting to think that the public blogosphere also affords a good bit of potential assigned reading.


  • When I was a graduate student before the days of the Internet, I often encountered academics who were worried about their ideas being ripped off before they got to publication--if you're blogging to try them out, that is obviously not a concern for you?

    Mary Pringle May 5, 2010 - 8:12am

  • In reply to: Mary Pringle

    Oh it's a concern alright. I'm selective about what early research ideas I publicize, and how I do so. Blogging critical responses is more about process, and usually involves subjects tangential to my core work.

    But I think it also depends on one's position in academia. As junior faculty, I'm still staking out an area to claim, but I also have a record to point to. But as a graduate student I was wary about sharing even abstracts, and I would advise any grad student to hold one's research cards very, very close to the vest. Some European doctoral students seem comfortable with--or are required to--post their entire dissertations publicly online. That baffles me.

    Mark A. McCutcheon May 5, 2010 - 9:16am

  • The requirement in many European programs is to publish your dissertation to demonstrate that it contributes to the field.  Your comment makes me wonder where on the publishing scale "blogging" actually sits. 

    For me the interesting back side to this use of technology is to reduce the personal "ownership" of ideas while others suggest on the macro level we should be able to leverage intellectual capital in a new economy. 

    Nancy Parker May 5, 2010 - 9:33am

  • In reply to: Nancy Parker

    Thanks for clarifying the European protocol, Nancy.

    How to assess blogging and related media as scholarly performance is a big question in my field right now. For example, see the Modern Language Association's "Guidelines for Evaluating Work with Digital Media."

    Mark A. McCutcheon May 5, 2010 - 10:00am

  • The subject of intellectual property arises in the context of blogging in scientific research as well  (Open Notebook Science or ONS). The stated benefits of ONS are that it increases communication in the field, increases the rate at which research can progress and reduces the time involved in repeating approaches that fail. Potential drawbacks include: data theft, prior publication (not possible to patent or publish in peer reviewed journals, and data deluge (volume of information too large to deal with and of poor quality).

    I still find the approach appealing especially if you want to use the research blog to work out your ideas. As one Corner Gas episode suggests no one may be reading your blog especially if your subject area is rather obscure. However, in disciplines where there is a lot of competition such as medical research it may not be such a good idea to use an ONS approach.

    Sandra Law May 5, 2010 - 11:49am

  • In reply to: Sandra Law

    I wonder if someone could come up with a Pissonnet using the term Pedablogy, possibly starting the pissonnet with the phrase "Pedablogy apps" or "blog apps".

    Pissonnet Competition Site

    Sandra Law May 5, 2010 - 1:32pm

  • The genre seems to require single-syllable words, so you'd have to stick with blog and scrap the polysyllabic pedablogy.

    Mark A. McCutcheon May 5, 2010 - 1:46pm

  • In reply to: Mark A. McCutcheon

    Right, I did notice that but apparently forgot when I wrote my post.

    Sandra Law May 5, 2010 - 2:41pm

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