tfw information ecology fall 08

About the Information Ecologies Assignment

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This module-long assignment is designed to introduce students to 4 symbiotic writing spaces that (we hope) they will be able to use throughout their time in the Writing Arts Major. The spaces are: a collaborative blog, a RSS reader, a social bookmarking site, and their Blackboard portfolio.

The Information Ecology is the project that will determine the final grade for this module, so it is essential that students keep up with the work and ask any and all questions if they are having trouble accessing/using any of the technologies.

Printable version of the below handout (.pdf).

Project Requirements

Collaborative Blog
You will be broken into groups to run a collaborative blog hosted by WordPress where each of you will post information relating to your personal, professional, and educational interests. You will post responses to the readings in the blog. Each group will:

  • name their blog
  • learn several WordPress blog features (how to create posts, links, and so forth)
  • choose the topical themes of your blog (based on the interests you previously listed)
  • choose a layout theme for your blog
  • write an about page that describes who you are (unless you want it to be anonymous) and what the blog is about (not just for an assignment!)
  • post at least 5 posts per week per individual (if there are 3 people in the group, that’s at least 15 per week total. Do not wait until the end of the module to do all of your posts—I will be looking to see that you have done the required amount each week>
    • 1 or 2 posts can be about the readings (these will not have prompts; the response topics and lengths are up to you. I strongly suggest that your posts in response to assigned readings are at least the equivalent of 1/2 page single space, Times New Roman, font 12)
    • 3 or more can be about other classes and/or personal, professional, educational interests. Unlike the reading response posts, these can be any length—whatever you think is best based on the topic of your post)
  • create a blogroll based on the blogs you find interesting

I encourage you to add and change images and learn the many features of this great blog software. To learn how to do just about everything, see WordPress topics and click on the topic that interests you. You can also stop by the WordPress forums. Look at these first before you email Dr. Wolff.

As a way to get Dr. Wolff to start blogging again at his blog, Composing Spaces, he will be required to post at least 3 times per week, 1 of which has to be about pedagogy, the other two about other interests.


Blackboard Portfolio
Structure your Blackboard portfolio in such a way that allows you to store information (school, personal, work, etc.) so that you will:

  • be able to find things when you need them in a few years when you complete your Writing Arts portfolio
  • be able to add to it as your education and your interests evolve

To do this you will need to think about how you want to name and organize folders. You may want to look at the classes that you are required to take and build those courses into your structure.

The Blackboard Portfolio has many features, only a few of which we will be using here. Follows these step-by-step instructions and you should be okay. The instructions will take you to portions of an overall portfolio tutorial created by Rowan IT. Use this tutorial and it is quite helpful.

  1. Log in to Blackboard and set up your portfolio as was shown in class and is described in the tutorial section entitled “Accessing Your Portfolios.” The first time you access your portfolio you will be asked to choose from a list of “tools.” Check them all.
  2. In class we learned how to construct a useful hierarchy for organizing our course information. Now we are going to put that into play. There are two key features of the Blackboard portfolio that we will use for this: folders and binders. Folders will be used for non-course organization. Binders will be used for course-related organization. For example, you might create a folder called “Spring 2008” in which you would include a binder called “Intro to Writing Arts.” Learn how to Add Folders and Add Binders.
  3. Once you have read through the pages, create your hierarchy, including folders that represent your educational timeline by structuring the organization of your portfolio. Inside the preset “Classes” folder, create binders for each course you think you will need to take in your remaining time at Rowan, and put them in the proper Folder. To learn more about what courses are required, see the Writing Arts major requirements. I realize that you may not know exactly when you will be taking specific classes, so try to get as close as possible to what you think you will take and when.
  4. Once you have completed your final essay for this module, put it in the Intro to Writing Arts folder. Only Microsoft Word documents will be accepted.You can learn how to Add Files to a Binder.
  5. Add Dr. Wolff as a Guest Portfolio Reviewer of your portfolio so he is able to see your organizational structure and read your paper. You will be asked for his username; it is: wolffw. Read about how to add a Guest Portfolio Reviewer.
  6. Email Dr. Wolff when you have completed Step 5 letting him know that you are (finally!) done.
  7. Sit back and be proud of yourself.

Netvibes Ecosystem
You will each be setting up your own Netvibes.com ecosystem. This ecosystem provides you with the ability have updates from certain sites (sites that have an RSS feed) to be sent directly to you. You can also see your email, social bookmarks, include web pages, listen to podcasts, and many more. Each student will:

  • set up a Netvibes account
  • learn how to add tabs, RSS feeds, and widgets to your ecosystem
  • set up both the public and private side
  • in the public eceosystem, create a series of tabs broken down by interest areas (no less than 3 tabs)
  • add feeds from each of the class blogs as a way of getting started with the system
  • have no less than 20 total feeds or widgets in your public ecosystem (this number includes the class blogs); your private should have no less than 10
  • yes, you can add cute little animal widgets like I have, but no more than 4

This portion of the ecology is asking you to think about how what you read and what your interests are help construct a portion of your (online) identity. Your public Netvibes page is viewable to the entire world and as a result you should construct a professional space that includes a host of interests and resources that you might one day use in the future (for your own learning, for your courses at Rowan, for the classes you might one day teach, and so forth). The private space can have more personal-related items: email, Facebook, MySpace–whatever you wish to keep to yourself.

Social Bookmarking
You will each be setting up a social bookmarking account at Diigo. This site (and others like it) allow you to bookmark web pages and, in the case of Diigo, highlight and take notes directly on those pages—notes that will appear when you go back to the page at a later date. Each student will:

This is going to ask you, as with the blogs and netvibes, to go out and find places that you are interested in. Once you find them, bookmark the pages and watch your tags grow.

The Final Assignment

For this assignment I would like you to think about how your online Information Ecology represents you and your identity/identities. Think about each online space you have been using—blog, RSS reader, Diigo, Blackboard portfolio—and how they are helping to construct an identity for you online. What do these spaces say about you? How they represent you? How you are being constructed by them just as you are constructing the spaces yourself? How is writing in the many genres we have been exploring contributing to your identity construction?

You may cite from the readings if you would like, but this should not be thought of as an academic paper. You do not need a thesis, intro, conclusion, etc. Rather, I’m more interested in how you are thinking about the online spaces, identity construction, and writing.

Page length: 1 – 2 pages, double space, Times New Roman, font size 12, 1″ margins. I will not accept and cannot read Word Perfect (.wps) files. If you use Word Perfect, save the file in Rich Text Format (.rtf) and upload that file.
Mod 1 Due: Thursday, October 9, by 11:00pm
Mod 2 Due: Thursday, November 13, by 11:00pm
Mod 3 Due: Tuesday, December 16, by 11:00pm
Submit your paper to your Blackboard portfolio (email Dr. Wolff when you have submitted it)

In addition to the final paper, make sure that each and every requirement for the above Information Ecology has been completed. That is, every single bullet point should be fulfilled. Also, please add the following:

  • in the same Word document list the following
    • your public Netvibes URL
    • your blog title and the URL
    • all blog posting titles and the date they were submitted (there should be 16 total)
  • add a link to your public netvibes page on your blog’s blogroll

Final Assignment Assessment

The grade is a calculated in the following way:

  • Portfolio (10pts)

    • Organizational Quality, or how well you set up your portfolio
  • Blog (30pts)

    • Repetition, or how often you posted and if over a series of days;
    • Variety, or the variety in the types of posts;
    • Identity, or how closely it aligned with the identity discussion in your paper
  • Netvibes (30pts)

    • Variety, or a variety of different kinds of widgets;
    • Total, if you had the required at least 20 widgets and 3 tabs;
    • Identity, or how closely it aligned with the identity discussion in your paper
  • Diigo (30pts)

    • Tag Quality, or the quality of the tags you composed for each of your bookmarks;
    • Identity, how closely it aligned with the identity discussion in your paper

The totals for each area = 100pts. That number is your final grade for the module.

One Response to tfw information ecology fall 08

  1. Pingback: Nardi and O’Day’s “Information Ecologies” « prof write @ usc

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