Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Welcome, Fall 2014 students!

Please find here some notes about the first day of class and reminders for things to do by next class, Sept. 8.

We talked about the course and the course topics and showed our interest for each topic by “voting” for our own top 3 on the white board. I’m saving the image here so we can go back to it if needed later in the semester.


We introduced ourselves and found that we have a very diverse group of students from all around campus. Neat!

Finally, we talked about the initial motivation for the course – that of understanding the aspects of society that have been deeply changed by social media. The course topics are selected to illustrate this theme.

Here is the to do list for next class:

  1. Read the articles posted on Blackboard and fill out the reading notes.
  2. Fill out the worksheet with your own personal online identity management plan.
  3. Set up your blog on Learn how the blog works, learn the difference between post, page, tag and category. Create the categories mentioned in the syllabus so you can easily categorize your posts later on.
  4. Set up your twitter account. Remember what we discussed about (a)nonymity. Make an informed choice.
  5. Go to the wiki page on Blackboard and paste the links to your blog and twitter account.
  6. Set up your RSS feed reader (e.g. Feedly) and subscribe to this blog and to all class members’ blogs.
  7. Follow me (@mihaela_v) and all class members on Twitter.

Optional, but highly recommended:

See older blog posts I wrote that can be useful to you in this class:

(Note how my links are done: They are from text so you don’t have to see the URL, and they work. Please follow this example when linking from your blog posts. Readers should not have to see the URLs. Also bad practice: “click here.” Provide enough meaningful information so the reader knows what is on the other side of the link. This is called information scent.)

Questions about any of this? Please ask in the comments below.



Posted: September 9, 2013 in About reading & writing blogs
Tags: ,

One of the things that makes blogging difficult is the fear that we are not experts and we don’t have any “blogworthy” wisdom to share. As a result, we get blogger’s block and we don’t blog at all…

One of the main reasons why I ask you to blog is so that you feel all these feelings associated with blogging and therefore understand bloggers and blogging culture a bit better.

While I sympathize with the feelings, I really want to make sure you don’t think about each blog post as a masterpiece. It isn’t. It shouldn’t be. You shouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes on a blog post. If it has your attention and you are thinking about it, and is related to class, it is interesting and you should blog about it.

Or tweet. Please see some older posts about the very same topic – and see how the advice I gave to those students can be help you, too:

You’ll see that you are not alone. Most students experience this apprehension at the beginning of the semester. It is important that you move past it.

If you don’t know what to blog about this week, may I give you an idea? How about you blog about Twitter. Ask questions, or give advice to classmates about anything Twitter related. How you found people to follow, or maybe a short list of people they should follow, a story about how you engaged on Twitter with someone you didn’t know, or how you manage to remember to log in and tweet… Or any other tips or questions that come to mind.

As I am reading your blogs, I feel the need to remind and/or educate you about a couple of very basic things:

  1. Linking. Link from text, like this. Don’t just paste URLs in. They’re ugly. According to Tim Berners-Lee (don’t know who he is? Google and find out!!!) URLs were never meant to be seen.
  2. Widgets. Use widgets to customize your wordpress theme. Show your tags and categories on the side bars.
  3. Settings. Go through them. See what’s there. Customize. Turn on liking and rating for posts and for comments.

Don’t be lazy. Figure out WordPress. There is a lot of detailed information out there. Use it.

You can also watch these screencasts I created a long time back about some wordpress basics. The dashboard looked a bit different then, but it’s the same idea. I made them for my liberal arts undergrads who were scared of technology. You are taking a PhD level class in Technology. You can figure this out. Just try, please.

I don’t think you need this kind of help, but here it is, just in case. 🙂

I was used to only academic writing, where imaginary mean, anonymous reviewers scrutinize every word and comma and reply with snarky “constructive feedback” that hurts the core of your being and ruin your self-esteem.

But I really wanted to blog.

I wanted a platform for daring, unfinished ideas. A platform for fun, for experimentation, free of the absolute need for academic citations.

Writing the first few blog posts was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. You put yourself out there – no citations, no proofreading, and EVERYONE can see!!! They will kill me!

They didn’t.

The worst that happened is, I got ignored.

The best – I got interesting comments, new ideas, or notes that some of my posts have really helped people. Yay!

Writing honestly, without the protection of the academic article formula is scary. It is because you dare to be vulnerable. Brenee Brown says that we admire vulnerability in others but we hate it in ourselves. Yes, being vulnerable is scary. But it is brave.

Really, watch this video:

So, listen. I know you’re nervous. It’s normal. We all are. I need you to be nervous and do it anyway, so you can understand what it’s like to be a blogger. So you can appreciate other bloggers’ courage. So you can meet friends, block trolls, and help each other. In the end, more good than bad will come out of this – even if the only good thing is that you get to understand blogging culture a bit.

This is as safe as it can be. You have a community of friendly readers. You have a safety net.  Be brave, jump in. I won’t let you drown. I promise.

Dr. V

Want to know more about the culture of blogging and blogging writing style? Check out this book, you’ll read it in a couple of hours.

Whether you realized it or not, we learned a lot during the first week of class.

If you need some help or reminders with:

  • using Google Reader
  • understanding blog terms (post, page, permalink, and more: comment, trackback)
  • an overview of the WordPress dashboard as it looked like some time back, and/or
  • help creating a new blog post in WordPress

Please see these tutorials I created for students just like you. Of course, you can also learn how to get started directly from WordPress – and here is a good Twitter guide book from Mashable (a social media blog you should be following).

If you need help with Twitter, please see these posts I wrote for students just like you 🙂 You can browse the posts tagged “Twitter” by clicking the word “twitter” in the cloud tag on the left side bar.

We ended class with a to do list for you. I am sure you have everything in your notes, but just in case, here it is again:

  1. Set up your blog. You can use your real name or a pseudonym. Post your blog’s URL in a comment on this first post about class.
  2. Set up your Twitter account. Write your bio, customize your picture (avatar). Say hi to me on Twitter by sending a tweet that begins with @mihaela_v. Include the characters #TECH621 in your tweet. So, you can type a tweet such as: “@mihaela_v Hi, I’m on Twitter now. #TECH621”
  3. Do the readings and assignment for next week. See the syllabus. Readings are on Blackboard. You can collect the 20 social media sites on your blog. Just have them available in class. Print the list out or bring your computer. Each item on the list should include a brief description of the site. For example: – social news; – music listening/sharing.
  4. Subscribe to this blog. You can start by email, but I recommend you figure out Google Reader. Also, you may look into making iGoogle your home page. Here is what mine looks like, after I customized it with the widgets I need most:

iGoogle screen shotQuestions? Please let me know in the comments below.

As you get started on setting up your blog for TECH 621, it’s important that you understand how blogs work. If you are familiar with terms such as blog, blog post, permalink, trackback, RSS feed, and understand the distinction between tags and categories, you’re good to go.

But if these terms aren’t clear, please make sure you read about them and understand them. Some older posts I wrote can help you:

Now that your Twitter accounts and your blogs are set up, it’s time to spell out expectations for using them.

Some of you have used Twitter and blogs before, some of you haven’t. While that might impact how comfortable you are with the technology, in some ways, for this class, you may be starting afresh.

Here is my overall intention that should guide your use of these tools for class purposes:

In CGT581, I hope you will use Twitter and your blog to learn about using social media for productivity, to document your learning & reading, and to connect with people you can learn from.

Let me break this down for you:

1. Use Twitter & blogs to connect with people you can learn from.
I’ve helped you identify some people who work and write about enterprise 2.0, and recommended you subscribe to their blogs, read them regularly, and follow them on Twitter. Connect with these people by commenting on their blogs, blogging about what they wrote, and engaging with them on Twitter. Extend your Twitter network to include these professional contacts, in addition to the people you are already following.

2. Learn and document your learning.
Use your blog to reflect on what you’ve learned from someone else’s blog post and to link to the original post. Use Twitter to disseminate links to blog posts relevant to class (whether your own or someone else’s). Use Twitter and commenting to discuss class-related issues with your classmates. Show me and each other what you’re reading and learning online, and help each other discover interesting resources. For example, if you discover a blog or a Twitter user we should all follow, write a post about it. Explain what the blog is about, or what the person does, and make a brief argument why we should follow them. Provide all necessary links.

At the end of the semester, when I evaluate your social media participation, this is what I’ll be looking for:

Blog – between 16-20 blog posts, spread out evenly throughout the semester. The blog posts may contain your original ideas, but they should be in response to something you read online – whether a professional blog post or a mass media article. Your post should include links to relevant resources. Remember, we’re not using blogs in this class for navel gazing. We’re using them to point to interesting resources, comment on them, help others find them. Your posts need not be lengthy. Anywhere between 250-400 words is fine.

Twitter – I’ll look for two things: posting relevant links and engaging professionally with people both inside, but especially outside, of class. So, your funny banter or comments about the football game won’t count (though you’re welcome to engage in them – they do help you build & maintain relationships), but comments about using social media in the workplace/for productivity and posting relevant links will count. I will also look at your list of people you follow, and make sure you are following professionals in the social media space. If you believe your current Twitter account is not suitable for networking professionally, feel free to create a new one, and let me know (I don’t think this is the case, but it’s entirely up to you).

Blog comments – I will need to see the comments you have posted on other (professional, not personal/entertainment) blogs about social media & productivity. You can use Backtype to collect your comments (be careful, make sure you give all the info it needs to pick up your comments & you let me know your username so I can follow you) or you can start a new page on your blog where you link to the comments you’ve posted. You can follow these instructions, posted by a fellow teacher. Ask me in class about how to write meaningful comments on blog posts.

Remember, social media engagement is a large portion of your course grade, so you need to take it seriously and invest the time it requires. I don’t expect you to know how to do all this – so please ask me questions.

I need to make sure you’ve read and understood these instructions, so please post a comment or ask a question in the comments below.

P.S. – thank you again, Kyle, for the nice image in the blog header!