Ever since I launched this weblog April 2003, I have been talking up blogs quite a bit in my system. The usual heat seekers grab on to the potential and some of the more technology skeptical folks at least do not wrinkle their brows in confusion when I mention “blog”. I’ve run a few “BlogShops” , set up some blogs for folks to experiment with, etc. Most seemed to lack the almost OCD tendencies needed to keep at the practice.
The uptake has not quite taken off yet, even after some nibbles that seemed like 2 colleges saw blogs as a possible KM (Knowledge Management) tool but went not much further than thinking about it. Some days it feels like the technology universe here is hemmed in at WebCT, Blackboard, Word, and PowerPoint, while I keep seeing much more interesting things way over the fence.
I was starting to think this might take another decade to see blogs rise in use, but out of the blue, I found out one of our more innovative faculty members is setting up individual blogs for some 200 Anthropology students, for them to practice the reflective writing exercises he has provided in different media for years, and, linking cohort groups of students using RSS to link their posts to each other.
Again, Neo says’ a big, “woah”!
I’d also heard that the tech staff at his college had identified a new blog software, maybe it was one I had not heard of– upon seeing the first link, of all things, it was MovableType (same “Rusty” template we hijacked for the BlogShop). It just goes to show that the brand name of the underlying technology matters little to the people that use it.
I will share a URL down the road as right now the students have not even gone to their first class, so it is a bunch of blank blogs. What is interesting is their college’s tech staff did figure a way (through some custom Java programming) to have an admin tool generate new blogs via manipulating the mySQL database, avoiding the chore of manual MT blog creation, and something about authenticating against their LDAP.
However, the real cool stuff will be when the students actually start their writing. From a project long ago (1996) when we hand rolled perl base discussion forums for these kinds of courses, the students are very conversant and thoughtful writers.
Stay tuned, the blog winds are a blowin’ again.