Blogging vs. ds106 Assignments

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Dear students,

Does this class have you confused? I’ll bet for many of you the answer is an all caps YES. That’s to be expected. You have been exposed to a lot of new tools and ideas in a short period of time, you have an instructor whose methods are a bit unconventional, and you are probably having a hard time figuring out what to do first or next. But you’ve chosen not to drop the class so you are going to need to do your best to get as unconfused as you can as quickly as you can.

The other day a student visited my cubicle space upstairs after lunch because he thought he was confused over a number of matters. Among the questions he asked was one about the difference between the blogging and ds106 Assignment requirements for this course. I agreed with him that this matter hasn’t been as clearly explained as it should. So the purpose of this post is to try to offer such an explanation.

To review, this course is divided in to four sections of nine classroom meetings each. For each of these sections you will receive up to ten points for your blogging efforts and up to 15 points for the ds106 assignments you post to your blog. I realize in writing this paragraph how confusing that might seem. A ds106 assignment, though posted to your blog, technically doesn’t contribute to your blogging score. So let me take a moment to explain what I have in mind for the blogging requirement.

Blogging: At the most basic level, anything you post to your blog that is not a ds106 assignment is part of your blogging work and will be taken in to account when I assign scores at the end of each section. Scores and feedback will be provided through a shared Google document about which more will be explained later. I’ve mentioned on several occasions that you should use your blog to write about matters related to the topics covered during the course but that’s just a starting point.

That would suggest, as we are now in the Pioneers’ Visions section, that you would blog about any of the seven pioneers listed that have been mentioned in class. As you try to learn more about these people you will find resources on the web that you will want to link to. You will also want to write about what you’ve learned about the contributions these visionaries made to the field of computing and the development of the internet. You are also welcome and encouraged to write about other people, events and technological developments that you feel should be part of the story of how the internet came to be. Essentially, you are using your blog as scrapbook or journal of what you’ve learned and what you think about what you’ve learned.

It is through this that I and everyone else who reads your blog will see where your journey has taken you. Additionally, I’d like for you to think of your blog as a representation of who you are and how you want to portray yourself as a student in this class to the world. This class and your blog are not about passively taking in information. This class and your blog are about you taking ownership of your own personal piece of cyberspace. What I am trying to say here is that I expect you to blog about what you want to blog about.

Clearly you need to demonstrate a basic level of understanding of certain aspects of the content covered in each of the sections. But you also should realize that you have the freedom to and are expected to write about anything else you wish to share. It is through this that your readers will be able get a sense of who you are and what you are trying to say. To say it another way, your blog might be thought of as the entry point in to a conversation.

The idea of conversation implies a back and forth communication. This is why commenting is also going to be another aspect of everyone’s blogging score. You will need to respond to comments left on your blog. You will need to read the blogs of your classmates and leave comments when so moved. Don’t forget to check the box to have follow-up comments emailed to you when you leave a comment on someone’s blog. A blog post that generates much meaningful discussion in the comments section is one that I will view favorably.

A quick note before moving on to ds106 Assignments. Essential to keeping up on your classmates blogs will be to subscribe to them through Google reader. I have shared a spreadsheet with everyone on my contact list that has everyone’s blog URLs and twitter IDs. Instructions for subscribing to the blogs was included in the message that accompanied the spreadsheet. Please do this soon.

ds106 Assignments: I feel that I’ve fairly well explained the ds106 assignment process here and here. As there are already several students posting amazing ds106 assignments, I will assume that I don’t need to go in to too much more detail here. But if you still have questions, please let me know.

The most important thing you need to do is to register your blog on the ds106 site. Once this has been done and you’ve confirmed your registration by following the steps in the email you receive from ds106, all of your future blog posts will automatically appear on the ds106 site (both your regular blog posts and your ds106 assignments).

When you submit a ds106 assignment, in addition to describing the assignment, discussing the process and sharing the story you also need to include a tag with the number of the original assignment. This can be found on the assignment description page. It will be something like WritingAssignments82 or FanficAssignments99. Including this tag will insure that your assignment gets listed in the proper place on the ds106.

You’ll also be happy to know that our class has a its own section on the ds106 site. Going to this page will show all of the posts by everyone in this class who indicated that they are in the TUJ section of ds106 when registering.

I think with that I will wrap up this terribly long post. There is certainly more to say but I think this is a good starting point to help explain what I have in mind for the blogging and ds106 Assignment requirements.

Bonus link (speaking of conversations): The Cluetrain Manifesto
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