Design Tips for Creating an Arts and Humanities Poster

While poster presentations have long been a standard means of disseminating research in STEM disciplines and the social sciences, they represent relatively new territory for many in the Arts and Humanities. With this in mind, I offer a few suggestions regarding design for the consideration of those who may be new to poster presentations. (I’d offer the example of a few of my own past posters, but they are so generally poorly-designed that I’m saving them for a separate post on “How Not to Design an Arts and Humanities Poster.”)

Use both Image and Word. Posters offer the opportunity to employ images to highlight one’s research work, but they generally work best when they use text and image together in a complementary fashion. Text and image should, ideally, relate to and supplement each other in meaningful ways. Pretty pictures are, well, pretty, but save those vacation pics of yourself on the beach in Aruba for Facebook.

Don’t Overuse Text. Most disciplines in the Arts and Humanities are heavily text-oriented, and it follows that much of our research is as well. Resist the temptation, however, to cram too much text into your poster. Reading a poster, especially when the text is small and overabundant, can be tiring and trying. Be concise and succinct; in general, your overall word count should be under 1000 words (and a good deal under that is best).

Divide Text into Bite-sized Chunks. This follows on the point above: most readers will either not finish, or skip entirely, long text blocks. Keep it short and easy to digest, somewhere half-way between a tweet and a Facebook rant.

Use White Space. Where possible, use white space (i.e., blank parts of your poster) to ensure that your reader doesn’t feel that she or he is facing information overload. This should include reasonably luxurious margins around the edges of the poster, as well as space between text and image components, and space within text blocks (for instance, space between lines of text). Really well-designed white space can be a means of directing your reader to particular parts of poster: a component that is surrounded by lots of white space, for instance, stands out, and is often the first thing read or viewed.

Use Colours, but (Mostly) Keep Them Light. Dark posters can be striking, but on the whole, a use of lighter colours is more inviting. Lighter colours also tend to print better. Keep these varied, but not garish (unless your research is on the subject of kitsch). In general, light text on a dark background is not a good idea. If you are wondering why, consider the web page you are reading now. Annoying, isn’t it?

Ulysses on a Dark Background

Although in some ways eye-catching, light text on a dark background can cause considerable eye strain.

Use Spatial Arrangement to Highlight Meaning. This seems obvious: in general, we read from left to right and top to bottom, and so (generally), the material that one wants people to read first should appear at the top left. Posters, however, don’t always work that way (see my comment on white space above, for instance), so don’t simply assume that readers will follow a simple left-to-right and top-to-bottom flow of components. Often it is the centre of the poster that attracts immediate attention. The least-regarded portion of your poster’s real estate is usually along the bottom.

Use Space to Break Linearity. Most of our text-based research tends (because of the very nature of text) to be linear: it follows a straight-forward path from beginning (introduction) to middle (analysis and information) to end (conclusion).  A poster, however, exists fully in two dimensions, so that it need not (and indeed is not particularly well suited for) a linear layout of information. One of the exciting things about using posters to disseminate your research is that you can employ a nonlinear mode of presentation, and use two-dimensional space and layout to present different ways of relating aspects of your research to each other. Our arguments and analyses tend to be linear because our textual mode of presentation is, but you will know from experience that it is not necessarily “naturally” so. So use the poster to experiment with new ways of relating components of your work to each other!

Keep Your Components Regular. By this, I mean that it is usually best to keep text boxes, margins, and images of more or less uniform width. It’s good practice to use different sizing (and different amounts of white space) to draw attention to particular components, but this works best if the other components are standardized somewhat. In addition,  a poster with elements that are all of different sizes, and that are not aligned well together, can look a bit haphazard and miscellaneous, and can be hard to follow. Think Piet Mondrian, rather than Jackson Pollock.

Poor Poster Design

A scatter-shot design that fails to focus attention or direct the reader.

Choose Fonts Carefully. In general, it is often best to use a non-serif font (e.g., Arial) for titles and headlines, and serif fonts (e.g., Times New Roman or Helvetica) for smaller text. Do not, whatever you do, use Comic Sans: poster presenters have been stoned to death by angry mobs for doing this.

Keep Text Columns Narrow. Long text lines are difficult to read: keep text in relatively narrow columns that are no longer than about 50 characters (about a dozen words). Of course, don’t make them so narrow that people aren’t reading top-to-bottom more than they are reading left-to-right.

Use Graphs, Charts, Timelines, and Other Visualizations. Maybe. Posters produced for the STEM fields and Social Sciences tend to use a lot of these for two reasons: much of the information that they are presenting is quantitative data that is easily reducible to chart and graph, and such visualizations are a very effective way of presenting some kinds of information so that it can be assimilated quickly and easily. Obviously, we tend in the Arts and Humanities to use quantitative data much less frequently, but if you do employ this (for instance, in a chronology), you would do well to consider a visualization of this sort.

Framed text panels

Label Images. Images are seldom self-explanatory. Explain them. And tell us, if it seems relevant, where they come from, especially if you have used someone else’s.

Add Borders to Images. These need not be (and indeed, should not be) thick or obtrusive, but they do a good job of helping the image stand out, and “framing” it in a way that draws attention. The same principle applies to text panels; the application of a different coloured background can also help these stand out.

Use Reasonable Font Sizes. There is no hard and fast rule for this, but you do want your audience to be able to read the poster without scraping it with their noses. In general, you should scale up your fonts by at least 50%. This means that a body text that you’d normally display as 12-point should be at least 18-point for your poster.

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Selected Resources

Centre for Learning Technology. “Poster Design Tips.” Centre for Learning Technology, The London School of Economics and Political Science. n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.

Eggart, Mary Lee. “Effective Poster Design for Academic Conferences.” n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. [PDF]

Galvez, Alex. “Effective Poster Design.” Teaching Support Services. University of Guelph. n.d. Web.  21 Feb. 2013.

Purrington, Colin. “Designing Conference Posters.Colin Purrington. n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.

Roundtree, Aimee. “Posters for Humanities and Social Sciences Student Research Conference.” University of Houston Downtown. 9 Apr. 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. [PDF]

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Online Citation Software: A Workshop on Mendeley and Zotero

On 5 February, the Research Group for Electronic Textuality and Theory will be holding a special workshop for faculty and graduate students, to be led by Kim Martin from FIMS:

“Online Citation Software: A Workshop on Mendeley and Zotero
5 February, 2013
4:30-6:30 p.m.
Somerville House Room 2317

Mendeley and Zotero are free online and desktop applications that facilitate citation, reference management, archiving, and online sharing of research materials and citation lists.  Zotero is open source software designed in particular for the Humanities at George Mason University.

Workshop on Mendeley and Zotero

Kim will begin with a brief discussion of the merits and advantages of both these applications, and then lead participants through the steps in setting up and managing their own online reference library. Participants should plan to bring a laptop computer with them to the session, and should (if possible) have registered for and installed both programmes on it. No registration is required for this workshop.

Zotero can be downloaded here: http://www.zotero.org/
Mendeley can be downloaded here: http://www.mendeley.com/

Stephann Makri speaks on “Coming Across Information Serendipitously: An Empirical Study” at Western

Tomorrow, the The IDI in Digital Humanities Speakers Series at Western continues, with Stephann Makri (University College London) speaking on the subject of “Coming Across Information Serendipitously: An Empirical Study.” The paper will be in Lawson Hall 2270C, and is open to all!

Stephann Makri speaks on Serendipity

On Friday morning, he will be leading a graduate workshop on “Serendipity Stories” in the North Campus Building, Room 295, from 10am-12pm. (Limited Room Available:  Contact kmart5@uwo.ca if interested).

This is the second of five speakers in the Speakers Series this term; watch here for an announcement regarding speakers in the second term!

Things I Didn’t Know that I Didn’t Know about Student Blogging

On 2 October, 2012, I had the enjoyable experience of leading a discussion on the subject of student blogging as part of a workshop run under the auspices of the Research Group for Electronic Textuality and Theory; my colleague from the Department of Philosophy, Samantha Brennan, led a parallel discussion on the subject of research blogging, upon which subject she has recently contributed a post here. The workshop concluded with a walk-through and practicum on setting up a WordPress blog. The workshop as a whole was stimulating, instructive, and, really, just a great deal of fun. And I learned much myself from comments and questions contributed by participants.

What follows is a somewhat expanded version of that portion of the workshop devoted to instructional blogging.

Some Context

I decided that the most useful and efficient way to talk about student blogging was to focus at first upon the blogging assignment I have constructed for and assigned to a first-year English literature course that I teach, Eng1020E “Understanding Literature Today.” I have, in the past, attempted to integrate new teaching technology of various sorts into the course in order to make it more it more engaging; I have, for instance, used a Facebook group in conjunction with the course since I first began teaching it 5 years ago.  This year, however, I decided that I wanted to develop a better-focused and coherent approach to my pedagogy for the course, which I would facilitate through a more coordinated use of technology. My theme, I decided, was to be “social reading.”

“Social reading” has become something of a buzz term in some quarters.  (For some possible approaches to this term, see Bob Stein’s A Taxonomy of Social Reading: a proposal, developed for the “Institute for the Future of the Book.”)  It is generally treated as a pedagogical methodology, and associated with things like “peer instruction,” the theory that students learn best when they are actively collaborating together in the learning process, effectively teaching each other rather than merely passively absorbing information.

Samuel Richardson Reading. Image courtesy of themorgan.org

For me, though, “social reading” has a more historically-contingent resonance. After all, reading has historically had a “social” dimension that was somewhat lost in a post-Romantic view of textuality, and that, arguably, online textuality is now in the process of reviving. Social reading, in my view, is therefore not merely a pedagogical strategy for absorbing what has been read, but a window into a different kind of reading that transforms content, making texts multivoiced and multivalent in ways that are simply inaccessible through other more solitary forms of textual engagement.

There are a number of approaches that I have adopted to encourage this idea of social reading in ENG1020E; some of these, and a more detailed account of what I am trying to do in the course, I may discuss in a future blog post.  In the meantime, it is sufficient to note that student blogging is one of the more important elements of my overall strategy. The essential idea is this: students will write about their texts on public online blogs that were “linked” to each other through subscriptions and blogrolls. They would focus upon their more personal responses to these texts, and would be able to follow what their fellow students thought and said about these same texts in a way that would, hopefully, enlarge their thinking and perspective upon them. These networked blogs would, in this way, come to constitute another kind of online conversation about literature.

I have myself blogged for a number of years, and have read a fair amount about student blogging assignments. I have never before, however, attempted to integrate blogging in any way into my own teaching, so I did devote a substantial amount of time and thought  to the particular methodology I should adopt. The result was a brief but, I thought, adequately descriptive rubric for my students:

This assignment requires each student to create and maintain a “commonplace” blog (probably on WordPress, a free and open blogging site available online). Students will use this blog as a kind of “commonplace book,” a place to record particularly interesting, worthwhile, or important information gleaned from readings, lecture, and tutorial, as well as a few salient lines, phrases, or passages that you think might be useful to remember.

Students are expected to produce one blog entry every two weeks of the course, beginning the week of September 24 – September 28. For practical purposes, you will be writing at least 11 blog entries. You may, of course, write more if you wish. Each entry should be a minimum of 100 words, excluding quotes from texts. The blog posts need not be written in an “academic” style — blog writing is generally fairly informal — but they should at least be grammatically correct, and they should relate to a text we have recently read and discussed.

There are two main functions to these blogs:

1) To help the student identify salient, interesting, or important information discussed in the course.

2) To provide a handy “study guide” for the first term test and final exam.

In addition, students will be encouraged — and would be well advised — to “follow” the blogs of other students in your tutorial section, and even comment on them. You can learn a great deal from this kind of online “discussion.” Note, however, that the usual sanctions against plagiarism count: do not merely copy the blogs of others, although you may link to them..

On occasion, I will be visiting your blogs and commenting on them where useful.

I thought this sufficiently clear, detailed, and prescriptive.

Instructional BloggingOops.  Well, I was wrong. Shortly after sending out this rubric, I had a brief but informative discussion with Dr. Elan Paulson, who in her capacity as Digital Communications Specialist at the Faculty of Education here at Western knows a great deal about educational blogging, and has herself used blogs in courses before. Dr. Paulson’s comments made me all too aware of my failure to think through all of the implications of the assignment; her questions caught me frankly off-guard (although they shouldn’t have).  How, she asked, will these “commonplace blogs” differ from conventional class journals? How have you addressed the “public” nature of blogging? Will students be instructed in the value and importance of “tagging” posts, or blogrolls? What criteria will be used to evaluate these?

My attempts to formulate coherent responses to these questions coincided with an unexpected call to talk about instructional blogging in a workshop that I had organized for faculty and graduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Western. Suddenly, I had two compelling reasons to think, and write, a bit more cogently and comprehensively on the subject of student blogging.

What appears below, then, is my attempt to do just this. In addition to a more elaborate version of the slide presentation that I gave on student blogs, it includes the “criteria sheet” for the blogging assignment that I eventually produced for my students and teaching assistants: this last appears at the bottom of the post.

So, an important caveat: what follows here is not the advice of a seasoned veteran of instructional blogging. On the contrary, it represents the first stumbling attempts of a n00b in the field to systematize his thinking on that subject. It has been informed by some reasonably wide reading, some very helpful conversations, and a good deal of thought, but it has yet to face the trial by fire of actual classroom use. Treat it, accordingly, with some caution. In addition, those interested in this subject should check out Instructional Blogging: Links and Resources, a list of online and print discussions that I assembled in advance of the workshop a few weeks ago; to an important degree, that list can be treated as a supplement to the list of references here, as the resources and articles given there have greatly informed my understanding of this subject.

Some Questions

A good place to start is, perhaps, by asking oneself some basic questions about the intended function of the blogging exercise and the desired learning outcomes.

What is the function of the blogs?

This is obviously pretty fundamental. The first part of the answer should focus upon the ways in which blogs will enable learning. How will this exercise “teach” your students, and what will it teach them? The second half of the question should relate to the choice of medium.  Presumably, you are using blogs, rather than (for instance) course journals for a particular reason. What is it that blogs have to offer that other media, traditional or not, do not? Do those learning outcomes rely upon the kinds of features that blogs offer, or are they enhanced by them? A number of things attracted me to the idea of student blogging. Blogs provide students with their own secure textual “space” within which to express themselves, while simultaneously allowing others to comment and contribute. The exercise would also help train students to write in a more self-aware way for public online consumption, a skill that, in my capacity as a digital humanist, I also thought well worth their time to cultivate.

How do they relate to other course content?

This question relates most obviously, perhaps, to the issue of content. What will students be writing here, and how does it relate to what you are teaching? Will this be a place to focus on texts? Upon secondary source readings? Upon lecture or tutorial material? Upon their own responses to course content? Given that blogs have developed as a form well suited for “thinking out loud” (remember the etymology of the term “blog” comes from “web log”), they are probably not ideal as a place to keep lecture notes, but are rather better suited for the kind of intellectual explorations of texts and ideas that characterized the older notion of the informal personal “essay” as practised by Montaigne, Bacon, and others.

How will they be evaluated?

The issue of form is again important: to what degree is your evaluation going to focus upon the blog as a medium? In other words, is part of the mark for their blogs going to be based upon an evaluation of the degree to which the student has mastered blog-writing as a discrete genre, just as part of the grade (and usually a substantial part, at that) for an essay is likely to derive from a demonstrated competence in essay writing?

The exact criteria that you choose will, of course, depend greatly upon your answer to other questions here, as for example the relation to course content and the function of the blogs. What is particularly important, however, is that these criteria be reasonably clear to the students. Remember that while they will likely have written formal essays for grading before, and so will already have some sense of the types of criteria used to evaluate these, there is a good chance that they’ve never been evaluated for blog writing. Their sense of what constitutes a “good” blog post will be accordingly much fuzzier.

Are they public?

Blogging is almost by definition a public exercise, but most blogging apps (including WordPress) permit blog content to be kept hidden from the general public. The choice of “public” or “private” will depend, again, to a great degree upon what one sees as the function of the blog. Remember, too, that the content, tone, and style of the blog post may — indeed, should — vary according to the degree to which it is public. Writing for one’s peers, instructor, or teaching assistants is not the same thing as writing for a more general and diverse audience.

Are they networked?

To what degree are these blogs to be written by each student in isolation of the others? Or will you have them use the blogging tools available — reblogging, blogrolls, and “follow” buttons — so that they are writing within and for a larger community of their colleagues? Making a blog public does not, in and of itself, ensure that students are accessing, and gaining the benefit of, each other’s blogs. Of course, you may not want them to do this — but if not, then perhaps it is worth asking, again, whether blogging is really a worthwhile exercise in the first place.

How will feedback and comments be handled?

Are you planning to interact directly and publicly with the student blogs? If so, what sort of “voice” will you use, and how will you handle critical comments and suggestions? Will you “correct” a student when she or he gets something wrong? Receiving public criticism on a blog can be traumatic enough; it is doubly so when it is coming from your instructor or teaching assistant. There are also, of course, issues of “confidentiality,” as the blog will presumably be a graded assignment: how can you provide feedback and commentary in such a way as not to breach confidentiality?

How one answers these questions will, of course, go a long way to determining the sorts of blogs that your students produce, as well as your own evaluation of them. There are, however, additional aspects of blogs in general that need to be considered before finalizing a student blogging assignment.

Some Considerations

Many of these factors for consideration will relate in obvious ways to some of the questions I’ve asked above. I am certain that there are others I have not thought of or included here; doubtless some of these will occur to me as the year, and the students’ actual work at blogging, unfolds.

  • Take advantage of the online venue: if the blog makes use of none of the features that the online medium makes available, such as enabled comments, hyperlinks, or “follow” features, then there is perhaps little point in using it instead of, say, e-mail.
  • Bear in mind that blogs are not essays, and should likely be written in a very different (and probably more personal) voice.
  • Citation is (usually) handled differently on blogs, often just with links to online versions of the source. Actually, however, there is nothing really to prevent one from using MLA, Chicago, or APA citation style in a blog piece, and some blog writers (including myself) do so. If the blog posts are intended to be more essay-like, then employing conventional citation probably makes sense.
  • Blogs can employ “tags” to increase online visibility; if one of the points of the exercise is to not merely produce a blog, but actually to teach about blogging, then guiding students in the use of metadata such as tags is important.
  • Blogrolls and subscriptions can turn isolated blogs into networks. Again, an important function of the online medium is to turn a one-to-one conversation (between, say, student and instructor) into a multi-voiced online discussion. Having your students use blogrolls and install “Follow” widgets (which enable e-mail subscriptions to a blog) effectively “networks” the blogs in a way that permits students to learn from each other in an asynchronous manner that will not be unfamiliar to them from Facebook and other forms of social media.
  • Blogs are most usually and naturally a form of “public writing.” There are hazards to asking students to publish their thoughts online; perhaps the most important of these is that it exposes them to trolls and flaming. On the other hand, almost all students are producing writing that is more-or-less public already — on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter. Using a blogging exercise to talk about the differences between public discourse and private communication is probably a pretty useful thing.
  • IP and Reproduction Rights are generally not handled well in most social media, including blogs. This is perhaps a good opportunity to talk about what these things are, and why it may not be a great idea to simply paste that cool image from someone’s web page into your own blog without permission or acknowledgement.
  • Flaming and Trolling are endemic online, and there is some chance, particularly if students are writing about a controversial or contentious issue, that their posts will show up in someone’s Google search, and they will find themselves the target of a bit of online nastiness. Students can, of course, be insulated from this possibility by changing blog privacy settings — but it can be argued that it is far more valuable to instruct them instead on how to deal with this not uncommon pitfall of online writing should it arise. Students are, as I’ve noted, already living online; they are already vulnerable to various forms of cyberbullying. Learning to deal with it is an important component of learning how to communicate online.

Some Criteria

Here, then, is the actual set of criteria that I sent out to the students and teaching assistants of Eng1020E, Section 002. My formulation of this document owes a great deal to a number of examples already existing online, which are available on the “Instructional Blogging” resource list, and below in “References.”

English 1020E – Section 002

Criteria for the Evaluation of Student Blogs

The criteria by which your blogs will be evaluated fall into three categories: Primary Criteria, Secondary Criteria, and Optional “Extras.” The latter category consists of features that are not absolutely required, but that will gain you some extra credit if included.

The grade percentages associated with each of these criteria are guidelines only, and represent the relative “weight” of each category that we’ll be using when evaluating your blogs. In an instance in which, for example, the “content” of the blog posts is exceptional, we may feel justified in boosting the mark for that above the 40% allowed for below.

Primary Criteria 

  • Content (40%) – “Content” in this context means the degree to which your posts focus upon one of our class texts, and the “quality” of your insights and thoughts about those texts. Remember that the point of the blog is not to regurgitate material from lectures and tutorials (although you may of course refer to these), but rather to add your own thoughts and impressions about these poems, novels, plays, and essays. A high quality post will engage with a text both critically (that is to say, will feature some original insights that come from a considered reading of it) and personally. You needn’t be afraid of being “wrong” in any of your discussions, but your impressions and ideas should be backed up with at least some “evidence” from the text. As well, your posts should be to some degree “original,” a requirement that is implied by the fact that they are also “personal” responses. Merely parroting the remarks or thoughts of other students will result in a loss of marks.
  • Style (30%) – Blogs are not, and should not, be written in the formal style of an academic paper or essay. Use a personal voice – the first person pronoun is not merely permitted, but encouraged – and make your writing casual, entertaining, and engaging. Your diction (word choice) can be more colloquial than would generally be permitted in an essay as well, but try to avoid a language that stoops too low: avoid vulgarity and “text-speak.”

Secondary Criteria 

  • Grammar and Spelling (10%) – As noted above, a blog is not a formal essay. That said, you are still writing to be understood, and for an audience (even if it is only your TA and instructor), and your writing should therefore be grammatically correct. Occasional liberties (for instance, the occasional sentence fragment for dramatic or rhetorical effect) are permissible, but posts littered with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes will be penalized.
  • Timeliness and Length (10%) – The rubric for the blogging assignment specifies that you are expected to write “one blog entry every two weeks of the course, beginning the week of September 24 – September 28.” It also requires that each entry be a minimum of 100 words, excluding quotes from texts. There will be some flexibility on the first requirement: we won’t be counting down to midnight on the last night of each two-week period to check that you have produced a blog post within that interval. But you are expected to “keep up,” and should post your bi-weekly entries no more than a day or two late. Do not wait until the end of the term or the course to post a backlog of entries: this would defeat one of the main points of the exercise, and will result in the deduction of marks.
  • Quotation of Primary Sources (5%) – One of the original functions of manuscript “commonplace books” was to store pithy quotes for future reference and use. In addition to quoting from the text where appropriate to back up any of your ideas and impressions, it’s a good idea to record particularly “important” sentences, phrases, or lines. You’ll find this very handy when studying for the first term test and final exam. You needn’t (and indeed shouldn’t) go overboard here: don’t cite giant blocks of text. But your posts should include a judicious sampling of brief important “bits.”
  • Citation (5%) – Most blogs “cite” sources by linking to them, if they are online, and otherwise provide no more than an author, title, and perhaps date integrated into the discussion itself. This approach is acceptable, but you can also, if you wish, provide more formal citations at the end of each post. Do be sure, however, to provide some citation for ideas and quotes taken from elsewhere, especially if they are from a fellow student.

Optional “Extras” 

  • Comments – You can earn some extra credit (up to 5%) by commenting on the blogs of other students within your tutorial group. These needn’t be lengthy or elaborate, but should be more than a wave: try to say something substantive about the post upon which you are commenting. And, of course, please be civil and respectful of the opinions and writing of others.
  • Multimedia, Images, and Links – You can additionally earn some additional credit (up to 5%) by integrating into your blog post some images, multimedia, and links. These must, of course, be relevant in some way to your post, although can certainly also be “humorous” or draw connections to popular culture (e.g., music videos and even the occasional pertinent “lolcat”). YouTube videos are usually viewed as being in the public domain, and so can be used without worry, but make sure that the images and other materials you use are also “public.” The easiest place to find images that are in the public domain is Wikimedia Commons; some electronic databases and sources also specify that you can use images so long as the original source is acknowledged and cited.

Some Conclusions

Actually, I don’t have any of these yet. My class is only now entering their third week of this assignment: most of the students have as yet produced only a single post. So far, I’m pretty pleased with these. Students have been using this opportunity to register their personal responses to texts, while also supporting these with at least some textual evidence.

The thing that has impressed me most, however, in these early stages of the assignments is how much more than the prescribed 100 words per post students have been writing. This is actually an unlooked-for benefit of the blogs: while the word count for the blogging assignment is included in the overall written requirement for the course, it had not occurred to me that students would actually write more — and in many cases, substantially more — than was required of them. If one of the points of humanities courses in general, and English courses in particular, is to give students practical experience in writing, then student blogging would seem, at least at this early showing, to be a powerful tool.

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References

Brennan, Samantha. “Research Blogging: Notes from Our Workshop.” Electronic Textuality and Theory at Western. The Research Group for Electronic Textuality and Theory. 7 October, 2012. Accessed 12 October, 2012. <https://rgettatwestern.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/research-blogging-notes-from-our-workshop/>

Sample, Mark. “A Rubric for Evaluating Student Blogs.” ProfHacker. The Chronicle of Higher Education 27 September, 2010. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/a-rubric-for-evaluating-student-blogs/27196>

Stein, Bob. A Taxonomy of Social Reading: A Proposal. The Institute for the Future of the Book. N.d.  Accessed 12 October, 2012. <http://futureofthebook.org/social-reading/>

University College, Falmouth. “Blogging Project Checklist for Academics.” Scribd. n.d. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://www.scribd.com/doc/97815658/Template-Student-Blogging-Checklist-Pedagogic-Preparations>

University of Wisconsin, Stout. “A Rubric for Evaluating Student Blogs.” A+ Rubric. University of Wisconsin, Stout. 17 January, 2012. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://www2.uwstout.edu/content/profdev/rubrics/blogrubric.html>

Williams, George H. “Blogging Assignment.” English 289: Introduction to British Literature. Beginnings to 1800. University of South Carolina Upstate. N.d. Accessed 8 October, 2012. <http://upstateenglish.org/289/assignments/blogging-assignment/>

Research Blogging: Notes from Our Workshop

Here’s some notes from our recent workshop on blogging. “Getting Started with Scholarly Blogging: Blogs as a Research and Teaching Tool in the Humanities,” held Tuesday, 2 October, 2012, 4:00-6:00pm.  These are pretty much directly from my powerpoint presentation. It was good to see so many people at the workshop and lots of fun to talk about academic blogging with Mark and with the workshop participants. I hope we get to do it again.

My experience as an academic blogger: I began by talking about my experience with blogging which dates back to 2006 when I joined the Philosophy, Ethics and Academia Blog, PEA Soup. My main blogging experience though is with the Feminist Philosophers Blog, http://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/ For FP I’ve written more 200 posts of varying length and significance. My most widely read post has 14,000 views. and a typical post has several hundred views. I’ve also written a bit for the Philosophy of Sport blog,  http://philosophyandsports.blogspot.com/ 

Recently I’ve started a more personal blog with my friend and colleague Tracy Isaacs  Fit, Feminist, and (almost) Fifty.

Kinds of research blogs: Next up, we covered the kinds of research blogs out there from pure research blogs (not accessible to the public, could be in specialized academic journals) to blogs that set out to popularize research, talking about research (think of Dollars and Sex, http://bigthink.com/blogs/dollars-and-sex). We also talked about blogs that really just are extensions of journals which focus on discussions of journal papers and book reviews and then for fun we talked about some of the more gossipy blogs about the academic profession. I also shared some of the recent philosophy tumblrs because they’re so much fun: http://looksphilosophical.tumblr.com/, Looks Philosophical and Disabled Philosophers: We Exist, http://disabledphilosophers.wordpress.com/

Why Blog:

•Keep in touch with researchers all over the world, broader research community
•Makes our work accessible to the non-academic world
•Keeps us in touch with current events and things going on in the world
•I get a great charge out of the number of people who read and discuss our blog
I think it’s also especially important for minority scholars or undervalued, marginalized fields:
“Academic blogging: minority scholars cannot afford to be silent”Blogging is a vital tool to make visible work that has been ignored or undervalued. Minority academics must become aware of how important blogging is to articulate their ideashttp://www.guardian.co.uk/higher-education-network/blog/2012/jul/12/blogging-for-minority-subjects-and-academicsLast but not least, you can get terrific feedback on your work. Blogs often have very generous readers.

Professor Roger PielkeJr from the University of Colorado pointed out in his speech to the Lowy Institute last week, blogging has had a directly beneficial impact on his research:  (Blogging) is a remarkably powerful tool for refining ideas, for collecting intelligence, for making contacts. I get routinely better feedback critique from ideas, arguments, I put out on my blog than I do in the peer review process….”

from Why academics should blog by Sam Roggevee, http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2012/02/16/Why-academics-should-blog.aspx

Tricky Issues:

•Anonymity versus getting credit
•Managing online identities
•Dealing with colleagues who don’t read blogs, don’t view them as important
•Trolls, sexism, and dealing with comments

Instructional Blogging: Links and Resources

Instructional BloggingBelow is a list of online and print resources, articles, and posts relating to the use of student blogs for instruction. These are intended as a supplementary resources for those taking the workshop on “Getting Started with Scholarly Blogging: Blogs as a Research and Teaching Tool in the Humanities.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive, and will be supplemented over the course of the next few weeks as needed. Suggestions as to worthwhile additions would be gratefully accepted.

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Blog Posts

Albrecht, David. “Tips on Collegiate Student Blogging.” The Summa. WordPress Blog. 10 August, 2012. Accessed 22 September,  2012.  <http://profalbrecht.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/tips-on-collegiate-student-blogging/>

Bellinson,  Adam. “Comments of Gold: Advice on Giving and Receiving Comments.” Blogging for Learning. Michigan State University. 15 November, 2006. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://blogsforlearning.msu.edu/articles/view.php?id=10>

Brauer, James. “Blogging vs Threaded Discussions in Online Courses.” Connected Principles. Sharing. Learning. Leading. 3 October, 2012. Accessed 8 October, 2012. <http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/6431>

Dunn, Jeff. “30 Incredible Blogs Written By Students.” Edudemic. 8 December, 2011. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://edudemic.com/2011/12/student-blogs/>

Eaton, Sarah Elaine. “12 Tips to incorporate blogging into your classes.” Literacy, Languages, and Leadership. 2 August, 2012. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/12-tips-to-incorporate-blogging-into-your-classes/>

Halavais, Alex. “Blogging for Large Classes.” Blogging for Learning. Michigan State University. 19 November, 2007. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://blogsforlearning.msu.edu/articles/view.php?id=12>

Glogowski, Konrad. “Towards Reflective BlogTalk.” Blog of Proximal Development. 4 February, 2008. Accessed  22 September, 2012. <http://www.teachandlearn.ca/blog/2008/02/04/towards-reflective-blogtalk/>

Kerawalla, Lucinda, Shailey Minocha, Gill Kirkup, and Gráinne Kirkup. “Characterising the Different Blogging Behaviours of Students on an Online Distance Learning Course.” Learning, Media and Technology 33. 1 (Mar 2008): 21.

Lange, Ryan. “Blogging in the Media: Current Research.” Blogging for Learning. 20 August, 2006. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://blogsforlearning.msu.edu/articles/view.php?id=2>

—–. “Blogging: A Brief History and Overview.”  Blogging for Learning. 28 August, 2006. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://blogsforlearning.msu.edu/articles/view.php?id=5>

Lohnes, Sarah. “Using Blogs in a College Classroom: What’s Authenticity Got To Do With It?” Blogs for Learning. Michigan State University. 25 October, 2006. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://blogsforlearning.msu.edu/articles/view.php?id=7>

Mirtschin, Anne. “20 Reasons Why Students Should Blog,” On an e-Journey with Generation Y. WordPress Blog. 14 March, 2008. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://murcha.wordpress.com/2008/03/14/20-reasons-why-students-should-blog/>

Parry, David. “The Technology of Reading and Writing in the Digital Space: Why RSS is crucial for a Blogging Classroom.” Blogs for Learning. Michigan State University. 1 October, 2006. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://blogsforlearning.msu.edu/articles/view.php?id=6>

Rahman, Sean. “Student Blogging – What You Should Know.” Blogs for Learning. Michigan State University. 18 August, 2006. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://blogsforlearning.msu.edu/articles/view.php?id=1>

—–. “Self Presentation Online.” Blogging for Learning. Michigan State University. 28 August, 2006. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://blogsforlearning.msu.edu/articles/view.php?id=4>

Ritter-Guth, Beth Lynne. “Rocking the Cyber Canoe: Blogging in English.” Blogging for Learning. Michigan State University. 28 August, 2006. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://blogsforlearning.msu.edu/articles/view.php?id=3>

Sample, Mark. “Pedagogy and the Class Blog.” Sample Reality. 14 August, 2009. Accessed 28 September, 2012. <http://www.samplereality.com/2009/08/14/pedagogy-and-the-class-blog/>

Wolf, Leigh. “20 days + 19 people + 17 blogs = The Annals Success” Blogs for Learning. Michigan State University. 6 November, 2006. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://blogsforlearning.msu.edu/articles/view.php?id=8>

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Print Articles

Arena, Carla. “Blogging in the Language Classroom: It Doesn’t ‘Simply Happen’.” TESL-EJ: Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language 11.4 (2008): 7.

Ashraf, Bill. “Teaching the Google-eyed YouTube Generation.” Education & Training 51. 5/6 (2009): 343-352.

Bhattacharya, Atanu, and Kiran Chauhan. “Augmenting Learner Autonomy through Blogging.” ELT Journal 64.4 (2010): 376-84.

Blankenship, Mark. “How Social Media Can and Should Impact Higher Education.” The Education Digest 76. 7 (Mar 2011): 39-42.

Boling, Erica C. “Learning from Teachers’ Conceptions of Technology Integration: What Do Blogs, Instant Messages, and 3D Chat Rooms Have to Do with It?” Research in the Teaching of English 43. 1 (Aug 2008): 74-100.

Carlson, Scott. “Weblogs Come to the Classroom.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 50. 14 (Nov 28, 2003): A.33-A.34.

Caverly, David C, Sheila A. Nicholson, Jennifer Battle, and Cori E. Atkins. “Techtalk: Web 2.0, Blogs, and Developmental Education.” Journal of Developmental Education 32. 1 (Fall 2008): 34-35.

Churchill, Daniel. “Web 2.0 in Education: A Study of the Explorative Use of Blogs with a Postgraduate Class.” Innovations in Education and Teaching International 48. 2 (2011): 149.

Cobanoglu, Cihan and Katerina Berezina.”The Impact of the Use of Blogs on Students’ Assignment Engagement.” Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education 10. 1 (Apr 2011): 99-105.

Elliott, Darren. “Parallel Blogging: Explorations in Teacher and Learner Autonomy.” Realizing Autonomy: Practice and Reflection in Language Education Contexts. Eds. Kay Irie, et al. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 182-195.

Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. “The Literary Machine: Blogging the Literature Course.” Teaching Literature and Language Online. Ed. Ian Lancashire. New York, NY: Modern Language Association of America, 2009. 205-216.

Fluckiger, Jarene, Yvonne Tixier y Vigil, Rebecca Pasco, and Kathy Danielson. “Formative Feedback: Involving Students as Partners in Assessment to Enhance Learning.” College Teaching 58. 4 (Oct-Dec 2010): 136-140.

Higdon, Jude and Chad Topaz. “Blogs and Wikis as Instructional Tools: A Social Software Adaptation of Just-in-Time Teaching.” College Teaching 57. 2 (Spring 2009): 105-109.

Krause, Steven D. “When Blogging Goes Bad: A Cautionary Tale about Blogs, Email Lists, Discussion, and Interaction.” Kairos: A Journal for Teachers of Writing and Webbed Environments 9.1 (2004):  n.p.

Lee, Lina. “Fostering Reflective Writing and Interactive Exchange through Blogging in an Advanced Language Course.” ReCALL: The Journal of EUROCALL 22.2 (2010): 212-27.

Lindgren, Tim. “Blogging Places: Locating Pedagogy in the Whereness of Weblogs.” Kairos: A Journal for Teachers of Writing and Webbed Environments 10.1 (2005): n.p.

Liou, Hsien-Chin. “Blogging, Collaborative Writing, and Multimodal Literacy in an EFL Context.” WorldCALL: International; Perspectives on Computer-Assisted Language Learning. Eds. Mike Levy, et al. Routledge Studies in Computer Assisted Language Learning. Routledge, 2011. 3-18.

McCorkle, Ben. “English 109.2: Intensive Reading and Writing II, ‘Reading, Writing, Blogging’.” Composition Studies 38.1 (2010): 108-25.

McGee, Patricia and Veronica Diaz. “Wikis and Podcasts and Blogs! Oh, My! What Is a Faculty Member Supposed to Do?” EDUCAUSE Review 42. 5 (Sep/Oct 2007): 28-40.

Morrison, Aimée. “Blogs and Blogging: Text and Practice.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Eds. Ray Siemens, Susan Schreibman, and Alan Liu. Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture. Malden, MA:  Blackwell, 2007. 369-387.

Reinhart, Julie M, Adrian L. Whicker, and Tricia Juettemeyer. “News Blogs in Distance Education Programs.” Distance Learning 2. 5 (2005): 23-28.

Song, Chiann-Ru. “Educational Games with Blogs.” Online Information Review 32. 5 (2008): 557-573.

Wang, Yi-Shun, Hsin-Hui Lin, and Yi-Wen Liao. “Investigating the Individual Difference Antecedents of Perceived Enjoyment in Students’ Use of Blogging.” British Journal of Educational Technology 43. 1 (Jan 2012): 139-152.

Zhang, Wei. “Blogging for Doing English Digital: Student Evaluations.” Computers and Composition: An International Journal for Teachers of Writing 27.4 (2010): 266-83.

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General Resources

Daryl L. L. Houston, “Starting a Course Blog with WordPress,” Two Ells: Daryl’s Personal Blog, WordPress Blog, 6 January, 2013. Accessed 6 January, 2013. <http://daryl.learnhouston.com/2013/01/06/starting-a-course-blog-with-wordpress/>

Sample, Mark. “A Rubric for Evaluating Student Blogs.” ProfHacker. The Chronicle of Higher Education 27 September, 2010. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/a-rubric-for-evaluating-student-blogs/27196>

Ullyot, Michael. “On Blogging in English 203.” Michael Ullyot: Ideas + Materials for Research + Teaching. University of Calgary. 24 February, 2012. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://ullyot.ucalgaryblogs.ca/2012/02/24/on-blogging-in-english-203/#more-561>

University College, Falmouth. “Blogging Project Checklist for Academics.” Scribd. n.d. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://www.scribd.com/doc/97815658/Template-Student-Blogging-Checklist-Pedagogic-Preparations>

University of Wisconsin, Stout. “A Rubric for Evaluating Student Blogs.” A+ Rubric. University of Wisconsin, Stout. 17 January, 2012. Accessed 22 September, 2012. <http://www2.uwstout.edu/content/profdev/rubrics/blogrubric.html>

Williams, George H. “Blogging Assignment.” English 289: Introduction to British Literature. Beginnings to 1800. University of South Carolina Upstate. N.d. Accessed 8 October, 2012. <http://upstateenglish.org/289/assignments/blogging-assignment/>

Workshop: “Getting Started with Scholarly Blogging: Blogs as a Research and Teaching Tool in the Humanities.”

"Getting Started with Scholarly Blogging: Blogs as a Research and Teaching Tool in the Humanities."Tuesday, 2 October, 2012
4:00-6:00pm
North Campus Building Room 105

Samantha Brennan (Philosophy)
Elan Paulson (Western Education)
Mark McDayter(English)

One of the most exciting new developments in education today is the growth of blogging as a pedagogical and research tool. Student and instructor blogs provide an online forum for the articulation and exchange of ideas and information, and enable new hybrid ways of teaching. Research blogging has helped generate new and larger audiences for scholarly work, and opened novel avenues for collaborative and interdisciplinary work.

This session will address both the theory and practice of blogging for teaching and research. The first hour will be devoted to discussions of how to best design and employ student and research blogs, while the second will walk participants through the creation and optimization of their own free WordPress blog for teaching or research.Open to all faculty and graduate students.