Blogging General Pedagogy Print Culture

the lie of the portrait and a tangled web likeness

Girl with Pearl EarringThis (from a recent Chronicle article by Laurie Fendrich) is so cleanly stated that I had to have it on hand. It’s seeing portraiture as rhetorical, focusing on the message, the mediation.

The disheartening truth — a truth most often swept under the rug of aesthetic pleasure — is that while portraiture teaches us about the human range of emotions and character in general, no specific portrait can reliably be said to reveal the inner life of its subject. Instead, great artists have the daunting ability to deceive us into believing that they have painted the heart and soul of a person. When we are moved by a specific portrait, then, we are unwittingly moved by the artfulness of the artist rather than the personality of the sitter.

This perspective won’t come as surprise to citizens of a post-Einsteinian world, but it can be, as Fendrich has it, “disheartening” to confront the lie.

But then I look at the analyses of web sites that the E-Rhetoric class developed recently, re:, and I see Fendrich’s premise hard at work on the web, and students hard at work trying to negotiate the surface, untangle the differences between the personality and the artfulness of grrl. grrl as web celeb, grrl as huckster, grrl as obsessed with fame. We read the artfulness of grrl, not the soul. The class’s study of visitor roles on the web demonstrated how mediation reigns – lies and all – and how much knowing still counts.

Blogging General

young bloggers

Another Pew Internet snapshot, this one on bloggers from 12 – 17 yrs: US youths use internet to create.

Blogging General Wikis

screencast in a wiki page

Brian Lamb’s screencast Beyond the Blog covers developments in social software and its use in teaching over the last few months. The wiki page it’s embedded in has annotated links to the sites he mentions in the screencast, and is ripe for more. I’m looking forward to Brian’s screencast on wikis.

Blogging General Wikis

it’s a worldwide mission driven globe

Blackboard and WebCT Announce Agreement to Merge

The merger is financial rather than based on any claims to being useful in teaching and learning –

Both companies are passionate about the academic market and, alongside our respective clients, have truly pioneered the category together,” said Carol Vallone, WebCT President and Chief Executive Officer. “Given the alignment of our visions, technologies, and overall strategies, the combination of our two companies will advance the teaching and learning technology industry, benefiting customers worldwide.”

and the announcement is very self-congratulatory –

This merger makes tremendous sense for our clients, shareholders and employees. It marks an unparalleled opportunity for two successful, mission-driven organizations to unify with a singular focus on being the premier partner and platform for educators on a global basis,” said Michael Chasen, Blackboard President and Chief Executive Officer. “Together with our clients, we have one of those rare and special opportunities to truly improve the access, quality and efficiency of education on a global scale.”

Global, worldwide, mission-driven. The language of the press release is interesting for how it casts teachers and students (we’re not mentioned much; it’s mainly about administrators and money people. Neither teaching nor learning are used as verbs; instead, they appear as “e-Learning industry” and the like), but the merger seems hardly worth a shoulder shrug to those who teach outside the IMS box.

The interesting responses will be from the open source teachers: those who work with weblogs and wikis, Druple and Moodle. I suspect that the more standardized the IMS becomes (the more players WebCT merges into), the more valued the alternatives will become. IMS will – and it looks like it already has – become the place for the stock, standardized, work-a-day course. Other technologies (better designed for teaching writing), and other course designs (course designs not constrained by an IMS) will find their place.


wine for words: weblog marketing

Because “weblogs are about authenticity”: A response to the rhetoric of weblog marketing… (, Tom Coates.


can weblogs accelerate expertise?

A brief dissertation: weblogs: Can they accelerate expertise. In short, yes:

Weblogs offer a significant potential benefit to learners, by accelerating the learning processes that contribute to expertise.

The technical and social nature of weblogs enables them to be used in a number of pedagogically useful ways. Perhaps most usefully, the simple act of posting to a weblog satisfies a number of educational criteria such as semantic analysis and metacognition. The technical infrastructure of weblogs assists knowledge gathering with the creation of taxonomies and the automatic display of domain knowledge from other websites.


make academic blogging mainstream

I’ve spent the morning reading blog articles on and perusing academic blogs as assigned by Berne, Jamie, and Hans. The highlight for me is Moving to the Public: Weblogs in the Writing Classroom Charles Lowe, who argue that writing in a public space is rhetorically and pedagogically powerful – perhaps more than the (more comfortable) private journal writing and writing in the protected space of the online or face to face classroom.

But reviewing the range of blogs and articles on academic blogging that the Berne, Jamie, and Hans set up for us brought home much we (BSU, BSU English, BSU Comp/Rhet) are missing out. We are slow in getting our blogshit together in a larger, more organized, better supported way – beyond the scattered, isolated use in some classes by a few brave teachers. Our GAs are on the front line with personal/academic blogs of their own, and experimenting with blogs in support of CW I and II. But these are experiments when they could be mainstream, timid moves that could be leaps.

This isn’t a matter of keeping up with the U Warwick, U of M, or Purdue, who have organized ways of offering blogs to students and faculty, so much as squandering opportunities for teaching and learning.

Reminder: Watch for the next round of development grants.