BlogShop 2.0

Maybe a bit ambitous to call this a complete revision, but today I ran the second iteration of our weblogging workshop, or BlogShop 2.0 for a group of 20 faculty and staff at Phoenix College.

Pretty much the sections for using MovableType are the same, but I spent some more time trying to illustrate with more examples the potential of blogs in education.

I am grateful for some suggestions from Brian (who is running a similar one soon) and Scott for some new examples and resources. I plucked quite a bit from the ETUG BlogTalk these two and others were involved in.

This came into play iin the new section on uses of blogs in education, especially the matrix (Reloaded? Revolution?) that Scott has shared.

To be honest, my new section here is really just scraping the surface, and will be a work in progress. I also tried to make a pitch that blogging is not just writing, but a social process to participate in (short version: “Comment at other blogs, damnit!)

For this group, I set up three “play” blogs with about 4 accounts per blog, Toy Store, Sandbox, and Playpen.

Now that I have seeded the interest, it is up to the tech staff at Phoenix College to support it ;-). To be honest, setting up numerous blogs in MovableType is very painful and tedious, and until the MTPro comes out, I would recommend setting up a Pro account at TypePad, where for maybe $100 per year, they could run unlimited blogs, and have a much easier time of setup.

What came out of the questions from the group? Interest in being able to make blogs restricted (password), or parts public and parts private… (My response is, first, “why”, but second, if it is important, you have to create directories in password protected directories). Questions about will this be integrated into Blackboard and WebCT? (likely, as Bb is working on a building block interface, and I would not be surprised if WebCT was dabbling too- after all their strategy seems to mimic Microsoft- but for now there is no reason why they could not outlink to a weblog). Questions about ptotecting art work from right-mouse-click stealers (instrinsic web problem- if you do not want art taken do not post it on a web site??). Questions about why so many blogs are poor or uninteresting in design (Answer, they mimc the rest of the web where there is more bad than good, but also note that there are different audiences out there, more may be information hungry for text and links rather than pretty interfaces).

All in all there was positive interest, but the usual caution and fear of new technology.

And in the audience were people already with blogs!

A blog shared by Cheryl, a media technican at the college, is Campesinos de Arizona (Farmworkers of Arizona) documents the making of a documentary video (this is a project Cheryl works on outside her day job!). This is a great example of a blog for project journaling, and she mentioned they use the MT features for email notification to keep their board of directors updated on the project.

And then there is Chris’s outside work blog, 101 three sixty five (a play on his Radio assigned URL). For a long time Chris has been a head of the web pack! His blog has a collection of his photos and web site work, and he got a lot of traffic with his Ultimate California Gubernatorial Recall Candidate List.

So let”s see where they go from here… My work is done, I just stir up trouble, so paraphrasing my favorite author

[The web] is like a stew… if you do not stir it up once in a while, all the scum rises to the top
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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Hey Alan, I’m really interested to hear more about how it went with the ‘playpen’ blogs – in the etugblog experiment the one thing we really didn’t accomplish was give people a chance to actually produce a blog themselves (other than showing them how to do it and expecting them to run with it themselves…)

    How hard was it? Did you use MT and just create guest accounts/separate blogs for them all? That was really our issue – not having administrative resources/not wanting to force people to get accounts to participate. Did you find that the penny dropped more for those who tried the playpen blogs?

    Also, the etugblog site is going to come down in the next day or so – it’s a typepad account and unless I want to keep the payments going I need to take it down. I’ve created a static copy using an offline browsing tool and may re-post the entire site as a static archive, but that is kind of C2T2’s call. If you wanted you could point at http://www.edtechpost.ca/mt/archive/000393.html for the ‘matrix’ stuff and I will put up the word doc there to.

    Great job. This looks like it was lots of fun. Cheers, Scott.

  2. The “play” blogs were used, but mostly it was just junk that people threw up there. The purpose was to expose them to the editing environment, less than to ahve them actually produce some meaningful content (if I was doing a multi-meeting session, I might create some assignments or tasks for them).

    In Blogshop 1.0 I created accounts for 27 individuals (it took about 90 minutes of time to do all this), and about half got used in that session, and none got used later.

    So what I decided to do this time is make fewer “test” blogs, and created 12 generic named accounts (some people had to share) that I can just re-use for the next go-around.

    I do sense some penny dropping for those who tried- a good number were already convinced of the value and were looking for the go-ahead from their college to support this.

    Thaks for the note on the disappearing ETUG blog- that is too bad as it is a great resource. I would be curious to see what it takes to make a static archive (can it be exported from TypePad and imported into MT??)

  3. Thanks for that – I think the idea of just a fixed number of shareable test accounts makes a lot of sense and is a way more manageable way to give people a taste of the editing side. That was all I had really wanted to do as well, not really expecting folks to start writing a new blog then and there. Was this blogshop wholely online, or was their a f2f component as well?

    As to the disappearing etugblog website, well damn the torpedos, you can now see an archived version at http://www.edtechpost.ca/blogtalk_archive/default.htm

    I created it using Maximumsoft’s Webcopier (http://www.maximumsoft.com/). I’ve tried a bunch of these type of products before, and I’ve found this one to work the best in dealing with dynamic sites/urls etc. It takes a few minutes to grok its interface, but basically it was under 10 minutes work from downloading the software to creating the archive, which is pretty darn good. It handles all the url re-writing itself which is sweet.

    I’ll post a note about this on my own site in case there are other’s who are linking directly to material here, but this is likely the spot (until I get told off 😉 to find the archive for now. Cheers, Scott.

  4. This was all F2F for 2 hours. The web content is something I have done for just about every workshop since 1994– to provide the materials iin self-paced format for them to return to, for others to sue that were not there, or just for those in the audience that can do better at their own pace rather than mine.

    In fact, my first version of this concept still lives:


    The archive is perfect! I’ll have to check out the webcopier.

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