Blogs to Explore: Fall 2012 Recommendations

24 Sep

Here’s an Idea  As part of managing my writing life within higher education I’ve enacted – and recently written about – Robert Boice’s research findings regarding writing practices of quick starting faculty:

Write daily.

Keep a record of writing.

Be accountable in some way weekly to another person about the writing.

The practice of writing in some way each day about teaching and learning, being able to track the development of ideas via a record, and being able to make a community of practice with others who are writing works for me because it incorporates writing as an ordinary part of the day and hones the agility I’ll need for the scheduled periods of sustained writing.

Practices outlined by Boice keep me going, propel me through paragraphs that won’t be written because I can see that I have written myself out of a writing block before, and sustain me as ideas running through a draft reveal themselves as insufficient for I can move into a community of writers to shake loose new understandings.

Expanding the Idea, Or Following Learning and Teaching Blogs in 15 Minutes a Day  As a parallel to this process of constructing a writing self that leaves behind binge writing in favor of combining regular short writing and sustained writing periods (with huge returns, as noted in Boice’s research), I adapted the guidelines as I began more seriously last year to construct a digital self that participates in cyber / virtual / electronic / social media worlds focused on learning and teaching.

For the past year, then, I have been making use of 15 minutes of online time each day to see who is writing on what topics, discover where and when the canniest posts appear, and determine why I should keep reading various teaching and learning bloggers and tweeters.  Why and how this process has worked is a topic I can take on in another post.  What I want to get to today is this: three really great resources that would likely be of interest to Techniques in Learning and Teaching readers.  These are nearly daily in my 15 minute scan, with one or two great posts moving into my GoodReader app for further consideration during a weekend morning coffee and reading hours.

I do regularly go back to these sources in my daily excursions for readerly sorts of reason: the writing is good, the research solid, the ideas novel.  But from teacherly role, I recommend these resources because as I and others draw on them for the ways the posts regularly speed up, spark and strengthen our thinking about, planning for, and enacting of learning and teaching on a daily basis.

ProfHacker delivers tips, tutorials, and commentary on pedagogy, productivity, and technology in higher education.

ProfHacker is non-disciplinary, features contributors who might be tenured associate professors or undergraduates who are writing about issues “alive” in their own teaching/learning lives; knows its readers work at a full range of academic “institutional types;” and “tend to value experimenting with new approaches to problems over being consumed with stress about them.”

The entries titled Teaching Carnival and Weekend Reading are especially good when you’re looking for a post that will quickly connect you with recent “best” posts the blog editors have found in their own reading.  Posts by the contributing writers might focus on the small and important details like learning student names and keeping course materials accessible, or on the big picture topics including designing syllabi that keep students in mind as the document’s primary audience and scaffolding the writing and technology aspects of major assignments.

The Teaching Professor Blog features a new weekly post from Maryellen Weimer, professor emeritus at Penn State Berks, on such topics as: the scholarship of teaching and learning, classroom policies, active learning, assignment strategies, assessment, and student performance.

What I like best about this blog is that the editor is keen to facilitate discussions that continue on in comments – providing not just comments along the way but also will compose a follow up post to summarize contributions, distill key resources and set out next questions to be pursued.  And then will pursue those next questions.  The posts are heartening, frank, probing and relevant in addressing philosophical and practice, speaking of learning and teaching, tending to students’ and teachers’ concerns, perspectives and questions equally.  Recent posts have focused on cultivating student curiosity “as a catalyst for learning,” on PowerPoint as help or hindrance to learning, on cultivating understanding over memorization, and on characteristics of learner-centered teaching.

HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advance Collaboratory) is a network of individuals and institutions …motivated by the conviction that the digital era provides rich opportunities for informal and formal learning and for collaborative, networked research that extends across traditional disciplines, across the boundaries of academe and community, across the “two cultures” of humanism and technology, across the divide of thinking versus making, and across social strata and national borders.

Know about MOOCs? Badges? Digital Stories? Multimedia?  All of these and their links to learning?  Or want to know more about – even to know why and where and when you need to know more about – all of these and their links to learning?  HASTAC is the site to explore if you’re convinced that technology is neither a problem nor a panacea for learners in higher education.

Like ProfHacker the posters here are diverse in their personal, cultural and academic backgrounds as well as present locations within academe.  These locations are as likely, by the way, to be in the UK, Canada, South America, Africa, or Australasia, as in the US.  And the posts always keep both pedagogy and technology in focus for readers conducting teaching, learning and research within higher education.  HASTAC co-founder and headline blogger Cathy Davidson brilliantly takes on myths, assumptions, under-researched studies, and glib generalizations regarding the interplay of technology with teaching and with learning.

Twitter as a Way to Follow Blogs – with or without a Twitter Account   5 Ways to Use Twitter without Being a Twitter User:

Visit public Twitter feeds in a web browser. This may seem fairly obvious, but you can view anything that anyone posts to Twitter just by visiting their Twitter profile page.

I’ve included a Twitter address alongside the blog post address in each picture caption.  As a reader, I do like the direct-to-blog URLs, which afford quick linking to access whether a blog might suit my interests.  Yet, I value even more the Twitter address for taking a longer view while also quickly scanning – perusing a Twitter stream lets me see how a blog has developed, to learn a bit about the personality of the persons creating the blog, to note other interests as I scan who that blogger follows.  The Twitter public feed also helps me determine during that day-to-day 15 minutes of reading what will make it to that GoodReader app for further reading, and future course planning.

In starting out as a regular blog reader, I accessed Twitter feeds without a Twitter account in order to manage my time.  To try this out for yourself, type in the Twitter address for each blog into a web browser, and begin to explore.  And for any reader who wants to discover more bloggers and tweeters focused on learning and teaching in higher education, come visit @UMinnTeachLearn at Twitter.

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One Response to “Blogs to Explore: Fall 2012 Recommendations”

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  1. Blogs to Explore: Fall 2012 Recommendations by Ilene Dawn | PGCAP News Blog - 30 September 2012

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