Blogging as Teaching Tool

As my students are doing this semester, I will be using this space to explore blogging as a method of in-depth issue exploration, analysis, and data synthesis.  I’m scared to go public with my thoughts and ideas–but since I’m asking my students to go public–!! My exploration seeks to uncover some significant teaching affordances related to blogging, particularly as a method for research, remembrance, reflection, and renewal.  My colleague, Dr. Stacia Dunn Campbell, suggested I explore how blogs provide a place of transferability and sustainability, and I agree with her that blogs do allow for those affordances, so they, too, will be part of my exploratory journey.

Students will use their blogs as sites of creation and reflection.  Not only will they analyze their research and publish their thoughts about course reading assignments, they will also undertake a thoughtful exploration of issues that interest them.  They will seek other bloggers and micro-bloggers who are writing about specific issues and learn how to join a community of experts and scholars seeking to shed light on the important problems of our day.

This is our beginning . . .

Using Zeega for Critical Thinking

I just received an email from Ahmed Kabil at Zeega–here is what I told him about my classroom project (Speech 1301) using Zeega:    I love Zeega—it is a great tool for teaching students to move away from “text” and allow the visual to convey a greater percentage of their messages.  With Zeega, students are also learning about consonance and dissonance—(image and text juxtaposition)—irony and metaphor.   Zeega’s rich availability of images and animated objects has made this fun and exciting for the students.   They are working in groups of two to four.   Their assignment was not just to profile a person, but to drill down and identify key moments where their subject made a difference “in the world” or “for a group of people” and then discuss the various impacts (hopefully, news worthy) that the “key moment—or achievement” made on different audiences (locally and globally). 

 Next week, students will be performing (speaking) “in front” of their Zeega while the Zeega is in progress.  I asked them to think of their Zeegas  as their background singers—the student as the lead vocalist.  [Kind of a take-off on Pecha Kucha.]  But, they also have to consider that their Zeega will stand alone on the web—for unintended audiences—so there is a great deal of discussion going on in class around audience understanding, images/text combinations, etc.   We plan to video their Zeega performances and put them on YouTube— 

This is the first time I have used Zeega in the classroom, and I really like how the students have connected with it.   (They will also use Prezi and PowerPoint this semester.)  My hope is to provide our students with multiple platform choices, so they do not feel limited to PPT, but consider using the appropriate tool/interface for any given situation.  Finally, I really enjoyed reading this article discussing the differences in Klynt, Zeega, and Prezi from Digital Arts & Humanities at Harvard: http://www.darthcrimson.org/klynt-zeega-prezi-and-the-evolution-of-digital-narratives/

My Hope for My Students

Here, at the beginning of this semester, my hope for my students is that they begin to feel the urgent need to learn, not only their academic content, but more about national and global issues.   I hope the use of Twitter in the classroom helps to connect them to the BBC, CNN, The Daily Show, and other news outlets.   My intent is to use Twitter to engage them in the world of ideas and connect them to the key people discussing those ideas–so that my students actively participate in the conversations that will define their futures. 

Welcome Students!

As I begin the fall 2013 semester, I do so with much excitement and joy!  This will be my first semester to integrate Twitter in my courses, and I am excited to see what kind of research and communication tool it becomes for all of us.  Please join me by bringing your many talents with technology, your spirit of adventure, and your critical-thinking skills.   We are going on a wonderful journey together as researchers, writers, speakers–and thinkers!