Writing–and writing frequently, with intention, and with significant feedback–is a great way to improve communication skills and learn course material. Throughout the semester, this writing course will take advantage of the blogging functionality of the OpenLab. In addition to finding course materials here, this site–which is a blog–will collect all the writing you do outside of class on your own ePortfolio. That means that although you’ll write on your own site, you’ll find your work and your classmates’ work on our site–this will make it easier for everyone to comment on the class’s writing while also keeping track of their own work.
Although you’re all new to the OpenLab , you may be familiar with its core software, WordPress, through a site on WordPress.com or sites online that are powered by WordPress. You might be more familiar with another blogging platform, such as Blogger or Blogspot, or even blogs in Blackboard. This course will provide you with an opportunity to gain and hone your blogging skills, which can be valuable for you both at City Tech and in your professional endeavors.
To achieve success in this course, you must consistently and actively contribute to our blog through posting on your ePortfolio reflections on the course texts, discussing ideas with me and your classmates, linking to relevant material you have found through everyday experience as well as outside research. You will further develop your own reading and writing skills, and contribute to our community’s development, by reading and commenting on what others have posted.
Additionally, we will conduct a semester-long glossary project on the site
In addition to the daily work on the OpenLab, we will use the ePortfolios to share drafts, gather feedback, submit formal assignments, and offer reflections on the work submitted. Read more about these on this site’s Projects page.
Blog Frequency, Quantity, & Deadlines
Each week, you will write multiple blog posts and comments to ensure that you are engaging with the materials and ideas presented in the course and by your classmates. All blog posts are due by the night before the class, so that would be Sunday nights and Tuesday nights, in order to give both me and your classmates adequate time to read and comment on your writing (time to be determined by class vote). Late blogs will be graded down, and will affect blogging/homework grades.
Unless otherwise noted, blog posts at the beginning of the semester should be approximately 300 words; as the semester progresses, the goal length will increase incrementally. Comments should be substantive, though shorter, depending on their purpose–instructions will often indicate a minimum length for required comments, though any extra comments can be whatever length you think appropriate and useful. Liking, although it is helpful for everyone to get a sense of what is important to discuss in class and what to focus commenting attention on, does not replace the need for comments. Please use this feature in addition to commenting, not instead of it.
As part of your participation in our learning community, just as you are expected to read the assigned texts, you are expected to read all blog posts and comments on our site prior to our class meetings. Ideas discussed in posts and comments for both ENG 1101 and ADV 1100 will shape our discussions, and can become part of our quizzes, exams, and essays.
Blog Formality and Etiquette
Blogging can be understood to have a particular form and genre, with its own set of conventions and characteristics (just like any other mode of writing). This is true when we consider blogs as a form of journalism. Blogs can also be thought of to be a format, like a notebook or a chalkboard, and therefore open to the format of the author’s or authors’ needs. We will consider these different points of view as we establish the blog writing in this course.
For now, keep in mind that your homework posts and comments are considered informal writing assignments. Although the expectations for this kind of daily writing are different from the expectations in a formal essay or exam, you should proofread all of your writing for coherence and meaning, as well as obvious spelling and grammar mistakes. A simple not omitted from a sentence could spark a needless controversy!
Rules for the formality of the writing for formal projects will be indicated on the project descriptions. Even though these will be submitted as posts on the OpenLab, different rules will apply.
Please note that our blog is open, so anything you post (whether a post or comment) is visible to anyone on the web. Think about the type of content you would feel comfortable with your parents, employers, other professors, and friends seeing as representative of your work, and then post accordingly. If you are uncomfortable writing in the open, or have particular concerns, let’s discuss them as early as possible in the semester. There are ways to handle different concerns using alternative privacy options that will allow you to still contribute and complete the assigned work successfully.
It is foundational in this course that we respect each other, our ideas, and our expression of those ideas. Although we do not need to always agree–how boring would that be?–we do need to demonstrate professionalism and collegiality. Rather than condemn or criticize, we can critique and question, thus keeping communication open. If you have difficulty with this, or you feel uncomfortable when others have difficulty with this, please do not hesitate to speak with me.
Although I will be reading and assessing your blogs regularly, I will not necessarily give you a grade on every post or comment. Instead, I will periodically grade your posts, and will provide feedback in the form of comments that are not necessarily evaluative, but rather are geared toward pushing you to further explore a topic. I will be experimenting with a tool that allows me to comment privately on a post so that only the post’s author and I can read the grade and comment.
Simply skimming a reading and jotting down a few words about it does not mean that you have satisfactorily fulfilled a blog post. Similarly, writing substantially but without regard to grammar and usage might render your post ineffective. You will be graded on the quality of your engagement with the material and the effectiveness of your presentation of your ideas. Missing blogs and incredibly short, general, or sloppy posts will be given no credit and will negatively affect your overall course grade.
Please be aware that all blogs are time-stamped automatically, and that data will be taken into account in your grade. You are welcome to meet with me in office hours or set up an appointment to get individualized comments on your blogging.
Based on the strength of the comprehension, analysis, writing style, and use of resources, I will designate some of your work as “Featured Posts” (you can view all of these “Featured Posts” from the course site main menu under the header). It is an honor to have your writing chosen for a Featured Post, and though you shouldn’t feel bad if you’re not chosen–everyone’s post can’t be, or it wouldn’t be featured!–you should use these posts as models to push yourself to improve your posts.
Much like you would do when you write an email, your post should have a concise title that reflects the subject of your post. It should not include information that will be available as part of the data of the post–your display name, the date, and if you use the appropriate category, the assignment you’re responding to. It should also not be generic, such as My reflection, but should instead indicate the insightful content of your post.
Categories and Tags
Much like a table of contents and an index, categories and tags, respectively, help authors organize their writing so readers can find what they want when they want it. We will make substantial use of the categories and tags on our site. If your work is not categorized, I may overlook it and not grade it. If you have questions, please ask!
Using Outside Sources
It is very easy to take advantage of the materials on the Internet and link to them, embed them, or attach them, depending on their format. Please do this, and do it responsibly! If you include materials in your post or attached to it, you must indicate your source (for this course, we will use the MLA citation format). Citations are less necessary with links if the source is clear when a reader clicks the link. When you do share materials directly in your post or attached to it, make sure you have permission to do so. Use materials that are either no longer under copyright, or use materials with a Creative Commons license that allows reuse. Linking is less dynamic than adding an image to your post, but it might be the safer option if you’re not sure you have permission to reuse it.
One last thought about blogging
These are all important guidelines to help you succeed in this course. Using the OpenLab is a fantastic opportunity to gain familiarity with WordPress, but also to experiment with writing and with mixing media. Take advantage of it, and please bring your ideas to our attention in class or via posts and comments, so that we can all benefit from the strengths of the OpenLab.