My understanding to date – Assignment 1

This post is to (1) assess my work to date on the first assignment – keeping a Learning Weblog for this course – and (2) to work out what I need to do further to enhance this part of the course, or what I should just do more of – etc.

(1) Since having been introduced to Blogging last year, I feel that I am now getting a much better understanding of what I need to do to make one work (both for me and a reader – thanks for reading Leigh!) I have started a few blogs for different reasons, and using them in different ways has helped me with this understanding. They are listed below with a short description of their use, and how this has worked, and where the challenges were:

Photography and New Media Art
This was my first blog, set up in blogger, ont he back of a course on blogging by Leigh Blackall that I was taking last year through professional development. I found it quite easily technically to get my head around setting up the blog, posting etc. and so I thought I would have no trouble, but the problem came with the ‘what’ to write. As you can see I haven’t posted much, or that regularly. I struggle with the idea of posting my throughts for everyone to see without polishing them – I am a perfectionist it would seem, and this holds me back. I have recently had a resurgance of posting on this, as I am trying to run it along what I am doing in class, with the idea that this could be an extra resource for my students – not just the topics we cover in formal seminars but those conversations you have with maybe one or two students that might be interesting to more. This idea has come out of attending this course, thinking about how these blogs can work as  teaching resources, and also thinking about using my time more effectively – I am already doing this work – now I am just recording in one extra step – so I am quite pleased that this blog is becoming more useful and I have more focus for it. I hope I can keep up this new momentum – We’ll see what happens!

Comment On…
This blog was also bourne out of ideas surrounding this course, where I wanted to introduce the idea of blogging, and using blogs as free web space to my students, in a small step, before starting a whole course on blogging, or using a class blog etc. It was also an opportunity to assess student (and other staff) reactions to using Blogs in this way. Because I was struggling with focus in relation to my other blog (above), I wanted to ensure that there were clear aims and objectives for this blog, to ensure that this did not happen here. (I was thinking along the lines of S.M.A.R.T goals.) This meant that the focus of the blog was to be an online source of documentation and exchange for a project that they were working on, with an end-date that ran alongside the project, so more like the whole group was working colloratively to make a website. (Rather than a blog that continued to be posted to by one person.) The students were not asked to do anything out of the ordinary for their project, but were simply asked to post their work to the blog. This meant that all students had to have basic internet/computer skills; had to engage with the idea of blogging and online representation/communication. Students were given a short seminar to introduce the idea of blogging and to walk through the steps to get to the blog to post their comments. One student’s main task was to work with me to create the blog, which again was one of the project tasks, and not out of the ordinary (Last year the student in charge of documentation  for this project made a bound, hard-copy book that we only have one copy of and are scared to let out of the deaprtment in case we lose it!)
I was really please with the way this turned out. It is great to be able to point people to this online resource to show what the student’s have done as part of their course. I have e-mailed the link to many people and had some good responses from lots of other staff (one asked how much I would charge to make them a website that looked the same for a project they were working on – i was tempted, but instead I pointed them to wordpress and gave them the tools to make their own). If I was doing it again I think I would make sure there was a better explanation of the blog and project so that it was clearer to navigate and understand for a reader that was unfamiliar with the project. I also worry that people are spamming/writing rude stuff on it now, as I don’t check it anymore – I wouldn’t want to send people to is, if it is filled with that kind of stuff – I suppose I could go in and disable comments or something now that the students have made theirs – but I am also keen to see if there are other people visiting it, who weren’t invited to.

One Day Sculpture, Dunedin
This is my newest blog and the one I think I am having the most fun with at the moment. It runs alongside a project I am doing to curate a ‘One Day Sculpture’ in Dunedin in 2008/09. I am doing the project with Caro McCaw, another Lecturer at Otago Polytechnic (Academic Leader- Communications, Design Dept.), and we set up the blog as a way for us to communicate with each other, as we both find it difficult to meet face-to-face with our busy schedules. This way, we can put our research online for each other, and will have a good resource of information when we begin to invite artists to write proposals for the project. I have been enjoying it because of 2 reasons – one is that it is supposed to only be for Caro and I, so I don’t feel the pressure of everything having to be perfect before it goes up – it is just a communication tool between 2 people. Secondly, I have a clear focus for what I am posting and why. ( I always write “Dear Caro,” and “Best, Rachel” as it is easier (for me) to think of someone having to read and understand it)
The downside is that Caro has not found it as easy to get into writing on it, so I am only writing to myself it seems, adn i think it would really take off if we were both doing it – that way we are posting and responding – but I realise that I have come along way since I started blogging and that Caro needs to find her own path! There is also a funny line between what we post and don’t if we intend to invite artists to look at it in the future – for example, do we share research on possible artists on it now, with this in mind? But these are just musing for me to sort out…

And this in turn has made me re-adress my use of this blog and finding a way to focus, so that it is working for me, and not against me.

(2) So – what do I need to do more of, or improve upon? I think that I have now found a focus and am finding it easier to write on blogs in general (have become less precious! – just a little…) so I am anticipating that this will get better from now on in. I think the idea to categorize each entry with the assignment will help with focus, and make sure that research is relevant. So for now I will just keep going, unless anyone gives me any further suggestions?


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