Ten ways to use UMW Blogs
Figured we would get this one out of the way first. UMW Blogs can be used as a good, old-fashioned blog.
You can easily share your opinions, generate discourse, and interact with others using the best blogging software out there. Below are a couple of examples of personal blogs on UMW Blogs.
- Joseph Calpin’s Panda Musings
- Ripleedelamancha’s Riplee Land
- Shannon Hauser’s The Mud Pit
- Rachel Rocklin’s Bad Idea Land
- Brad Efford’s Judges 5:27
In the same vein as the personal blog, but with an international perspective. Many UMW students blog their experiences overseas during semesters or years abroad. Some, like Jennifer Davis, even blog about experiences abroad after graduation, such as the Peace Corps.
If your interests lie in music, art, literature, or film, you might decide that what you really want is a space to share your reviews and observations.
There is more than one way to skin a course with UMW Blogs. Below are a few examples:
A Group Blog
This blog is for the professor who wants to have the class blogging together as a group on one blog. This is probably the easiest to implement, given the Add Users widget, which allows students who already have a blog or username to simply sign up for the blog with their e-mail address. Zero work for the professor! (Loosely quoted from Andre Malan)
- Prof. Kelli Slunt’s Food Chemistry
- Prof. Melina Patterson’s Race and Place in America
- Prof. Mara Scanlon’s Women in Modernism group blog
- Profs. Claudia Emerson and Mara Scanlon’s Poetic Sequence directed study
An Aggregated Course Blog
If many distributed posts are relevant to a certain subject or topic, they can be aggregated into one course blog (or, to quote Barbara Ganley, “Mother Blog”) for a running stream of the latest work from various students within the class. This option allows students to own the work they do for a variety of classes in their own “digital notebook.”
- Prof. Jess Rigelhaupt’s U.S. Labor History
- Prof. Krystyn Moon’s Our Nineteenth Century America Museum
- Prof. Gardner Campbell’s New Media Studies course
- Prof. Gardner Campbell’s Rock/Soul/Progressive Freshman Seminar
- Prof. Mara Scanlon’s Asian American Literature course
- Prof. Sarah Allen’s Writing Process course
A Ghost Blog
This blog is for the professor who doesn’t want to be confused by hundreds of student posts knocking around his/her blog. The blog simply uses BDPRSS and the add-to-BDPRSS widget to populate a WordPress page with aggregated student entries. When another year of students comes, the old posts will still be there (or not, or in another blog that the new blog links to), but as newer posts come in, the old posts will fall off of the bottom of the feed and the blog will have just new fresh content without having to delete anything! (Loosely quoted from Andre Malan)
The primary difference between a ghost blog and an aggregated course blog is the impermanence of entries on the ghost blog. As new content fills the top of the page, older posts are bumped off the bottom. Aggregated course blogs both display and archive.
- Prof. Jami Bryan’s Library and Internet Resources
- Prof. Nina Mikhalevsky’s Banned and Dangerous Art Freshman Seminar
- Prof. Sue Fernsebner’s Cultural History of Late 20th Century China
- Prof. Jeffrey McClurken’s Marching Home Freshman Seminar
- Prof. Jeremy Larochell’s Writing Ecology Freshman Seminar
UMW Blogs is an ideal way for students to create a portfolio of class projects, or even a personal portfolio. Such a portfolio could conveniently go on a resumè or C.V.
The flexibility of WordPress can be used to create powerful static websites as well, without using external applications like Dreamweaver.
UMW Blogs can be used for class projects or individual research. A couple of recent examples from Jeff McClurken’s Digital History course are the Farmer Project site and the Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania Historical markers site.
Faculty have even started to use it as a quick and easy way to create their own homepage to publish information about their scholarship, teaching, publications, etc. Professors Warren Rochelle, Jeffrey McClurken, and Marcel Rotter offer a few compelling examples.
- Warren Rochelle’s professional homepage
- Marcel Rotter’s professional homepage
- Jeffrey McClurken’s professional homepage
Blogs are a great way for student groups to stay connected and share information with themselves and the community. Student organizations use their blogs to display important club information, news, student resources, and multimedia.
- UMW’s radio station WMWC
- Community Outreach and Resources (COAR)
- Fencing Club
- Cheap Seats Cinema
- Ecology Club
- Student Government Association (SGA)
- National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS)
- Guerilla Art Liberation Lives (GALL)
Blogging is a popular way of sharing information with others. UMW Blogs is no exception. Bulletins about UMW Blogs development, featured blogs, and recent content from throughout the community are posted to the front page regularly. Using blogs to keep your community up-to-date is becoming increasingly more popular, and several people within the UMW Blogs community have been using it just for that.
Take for example UMW’s The Bullet recent move to umwblogs. Also for other campus events such as UMW visiting Scholar Eric Mazur, or even news about controversial local issues, such as the proposed Kalahari Waterpark in Fredericksburg.
- The Bullet
- Eric Mazur
- Kalahari Waterpark in Fredericksburg?
- Real Estate Crisis and a Little American Studies
UMW Blogs offers an excellent platform for creating virtual meeting spaces for completing group projects, and makes collaboration easier. There are many examples of using blogs as such a space, where multiple users can quickly share with one another.
More specifically, Fragment (which is using the Twitter-inspired theme Prologue) is a proof-of-concept site on UMW Blogs that provides a unique interface for collaboration, project management, and/or a social stream of sharing thoughts and ideas.
- Honorary UMW Faculty member Barbara Ganley’s J-Term Project
- Dr. Lorimor’s Unintended Novelties
- Dr. Greenlaw’s Econ 300
- The Proof-of-concept site Fragment
UMW Blogs reduces some of the technical and monetary challenges of creating high-quality online journals, magazines, zines, and numerous other publications. The work of Claudia Emerson’s students have been doing in the Literary Journals class provide an excellent example of this possibility, which has really only just begun to be explored.
- Nonce Journal
- Grounded Journal
- A Small Good Thing
- Bellows Journal
- ECOllective Journal
- The Zephyranthes Journal
People can share their personal multimedia, such as audio and video, by using WordPress plugins like the Anarchy Media Player of wordTube. The beautiful thing is that multimedia plugins are already built into UMW Blogs! An example can be found at the Great Lives blog.
Additionally, Antonella Dalla Torre’s Italian 202 class created a series of Italian language video mashups using public domain footage from the Internet Archive, which was then published on a UMW Blog as a media presentation platform for the videos.
Creating New Web Applications
WordPress is flexible enough that advanced users can utilize themes and hacks to create their own social networking tools. Fragment is one example already discussed under the collaboration section. Fragment allows users to give short “shout-outs” in an expressive space, using the Prologue theme that is a Twitter knock-off.
Additionally, Professor Marie McAllister is using a UMW Blog to create an audio sharing site focused on Eighteenth-Century Poetry. The site leaves very few traces of a blog; in fact, it is using RSS to aggregate poems by specific authors on a page. Each of these links leads the visitor to a post that has the audio. Moreover, the audio comes from a combination of sources, such as the public domain audio files at Librivox, as well as poems recorded by professors and students more locally. So far the site has over 175 audio poems, and it is less than a year old.
Given how attractive a blog on UMW Blogs can be- and all the features it affords you- why not use it to create a presentation for a conference that can serve at the same time as a resource for references, ideas, and concepts long after the presentation is over? It has been done pretty effectively already. Follow the links below to see a few examples.
- Jim Groom’s Duke CIT presentation
- Don’t Call it a Blog presentation at ACCS 2008
- Steve Greenlaw’s Augmenting Teaching and Learning with Social Software
- Joe McMahon and Jim Groom’s presentation for incoming Freshmen, Fall 2007
- Jami Bryan’s “Boring to Blogging” presentation at Faculty Academy 2008
Adapted from the Mary Washing University Blogs support page