I’d say it is nothing new these days to highlight or discover a new use of weblogs… No wait a minute, it still is interesting to see what pops up on the blog-o-verse.
I’ve been at it since April 2003 and have helped a few groups and individuals in our system get started including 3 our our college centers that support faculty with technology. A number of them sputter in an out and you realize that it takes an extreme form of OCD to continually blog.
One of our colleges has done quite a bit with student weblogs, and was highlighted in Stephen Downe’s excellent EDUCAUSE Review article on “Educational Blogging” — unfortunately, I cannot seem to find any links to send you, but trust me, somewhere out in Mesa Arizona, students are blogging.
They also are doing it with the blog feature inside an internally developed ePortfolio system first launched at Chandler-Gilbert Community College and now also running from a server in my areas— I have yet to see another eP really take on this functionality.
For example, physics teacher extraordinnaire David Weaver is using a group eportfolio for his class materials, in effect, abandoning his college’s Blackboard server to put his course content in an ePortfolio. David’s latest twist is using his course weblog as a psuedo discussion area– he posts assignments or things he wants his students to respond to, and they post them on the course blog as a comment.
And I am also seeing our Ocotillo faculty co-chairs get “ahas” from our… er…forcing? coercing? them to use a blog to post the latest news from their projects. One co-chair has gotten bit by the blog and decided it would be useful to journal and track resources for her PhD work. Another asked me to create a blog space for her for a project with colleagues from our neighboring university — while her college runs a MovableType server, accounts are tied into the ones generated by their student information system, and does not allow multiple authors.
Instead of creating new blogs for them, I asked them first to consider our ePortfolio system an dif that was not viable, to take a look at Blogger where one can be up and running in minutes.. which is exactly what Shelley did to create her group project blog related to professional ePortfolios.
And when she shared that via email with her fellow collleagues, one responded with, “This is great, but can I get updates sent to me via e-mail?” It is a reasonable question, but it was time to step in and highlight that approach as “old school” (remember “PUSH”?) and tried to explain the elegance and power of using RSS. I even posted an entry in their blog that has a Feed2JS insertion of the feed from Shelley’s new blog.
And I am hearing more and more “What the %#* is a blog” type questions at our gatherings. Okay, it has taken longer than I thought, and it by no means spread rampant here- where the large technology focus for most goes little beyond PowerPoint and Course Management Systems.
But I am seeing tiny blips, like a weak pulse for a car wreck victim on ER…. and maybe some small toe holds taking place.
However, the saturation of things like RSS, wikis, is still out there on the far fringes of the bell curve. And I want to get people think about the new tools for dis-aggregating and re-aggregating content (e.g. the Rip-Mix-Learn with things like FeedBurner, Flickr, del.ico.us, etc.
Far out there. That’s where the edge is.