Blog Post

Student Blogging

This semester I'll be teaching a Writing 20 here at Duke organized around Utopian science fiction from the latter half of the twentieth century: Star Trek, The Dispossessed, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and Dollhouse. (A longer description can be found here.) In keeping with the themes of the course that consider the digital as a possible space for Utopia, I've decided to move from the Blackboard discussion forum to a public blog housed with Duke's new WordPress project.

Students will write blog posts of 200-400 words four times over the semester, and comment on at least twelve other student posts. Blog posts can be revised and expanded for either the smaller essays or the major papers; in fact, I encourage this.

Later in the semester, the blog will also be used to facilitate an interview with the author of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, that great-great-grandfather of blogging, Cory Doctorow.

Having never done this assignment before, I have no idea how this will go; I distribute blogging guidelines to the students tomorrow morning and they'll post short introductory posts over the weekend. If this is successful, I imagine I'll return to HASTAC to show their good work off; if it's a debacle, we'll never speak of this again...



Hi Gerry,

To take off my digital humanist hat for a moment and put on my Duke alumnus hat, I think it's fantastic that you're moving off of Blackboard.  WordPress looks more and more like what undergraduates (and grad students, and lots of folks, really) see regularly and are familiar with using to author content, so I see fewer benefits to using Blackboard.  Even when I was a Writing 20 student in 2002, Blackboard felt more stodgy and stifling for the end user than necessary.  Best of luck with the course.


Hi, Gerry, I'm going to respond to your blog in my own blog . . . Last time, I wrote a comment and then reblogged it and this will just cut to the chase.  Thanks for being so provocative.   Good luck with your course!


Anonymous (not verified)

At the risk of riding into another semantic train wreck, I’m looking for a couple of good examples of student blogging. Blogging as in writing that has “Links with analysis and synthesis that articulates a deeper understanding or relationship to the content being linked [to] and written [about] with potential audience response in mind.” (Was that really almost four years ago?) I put up a couple of Tweets looking for examples, and while many folks were more than helpful in providing me with posts to look at (thanks to all who offered), none of them fit the bill, somehow. Much of the writing was good if not excellent. And most had a link or two to sources. But it felt too report-ish, not “connective” enough somehow. Maybe I’m asking too much here, but I’m still surprised at how difficult it is to find K-12 students using their blogs to really try to connect with their readers around the topics that they are reading and writing about. To do more than reflect, but to really articulate new thinking or understanding in the writing.


Till then,

Ville of Salehdbrent Sgdashhousedotcom


I would say that you could look at any of the HASTAC Scholars forums and you'd have what you are after.  These blogs are so long, thoughtful, and detailed, so packed with references and yet so real in their interactions and actual conversations about deep intellectual issues, that it would be hard to find anything better.


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