Blog Conventions and Comment Conversations

A couple quick reminders on blog conventions: blog posts should have titles that aren’t just  “reading-response post” or “experiential post,” and they should be categorized as either Reading-Response Posts or Experiential Posts. One aspect of blogging we haven’t discussed much yet is linking: whenever it makes sense, you should be linking to relevant resources. Take a look around at blogs, and you’ll see that most blog writers don’t strew URLs around their posts willy-nilly. Instead, they use links in the text of their posts.

Today, we’ll talk about how to make the blog component of our course better. I hope that by the end of class, each section will have established some expectations for each other about how we can improve it. In doing so, of course, we’ll also discuss today’s reading about Julian Assange, and also some of the great resources students in the class have found in their reading-response posts.

I received a number of comments from students in the anonymous feedback about the blog posts and comments. Three in particular stood out to me:

I’d actually love to see the blog posts and blog comments being discussed in class and not just out of class.

One thing that I do not enjoy about the class is doing the comments on the blogs. I feel like the writers of the blogs never check back to read the comments and the only person who reads them is you.

I think the forced commenting on blogs is annoying because it doesn’t actually start conversation, people half ass it for the grade.

While I’m sure that students have varied opinions on the quality of the blog conversation so far, I think it’s clear that the conversations in comment sections can be better.

We’ll first listen to an interview from the NPR show On The Media with Atlantic writer and blogger Ta Nehisi Coates about  how he curates the comments section on his acclaimed blog.

Then, I’ll have groups take a look at the conversations that have been taking place in the comments section on the blog. What is working? What could be better?

Finally, each group will be assigned a blog post, and we’ll hold a virtual conversation within each group in the comments section of a blog post.

Then, we’ll brainstorm ways to make the conversation on the blog better—more like the combination virtual/real-world conversations we’ve just had. Are there ways to tweak/restructure the assignment a bit differently to foster better conversations?


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