tfw information ecology spring 2008

About the Information Ecologies Assignment

Skip to the description of the Final Project.

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 will directly inform the final written assignment 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).

disigning your information ecology handout

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 (host  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 4 posts per week per individual (if there are 3 people in the group, that’s at least 12 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)
    • 2 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. And, of course, you can always email Dr. Wolff and/or come by his office.

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. He will also create a blogroll (which he has been negleting to do for a while).

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. 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 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
  • add feeds from each of the class blogs as a way of getting started with the system
  • create a series of tabs broken down by interest areas (no less than 3 tabs)
  • have no less than 20 total feed or widgets in your ecosystem (this number includes the class blogs)
  • yes, you can add cute little animal widgets like I have, but no more than 4

This is going to ask you, as with the blogs, to go out and find places that you are interested in. Once you find them, if they have an RSS feed, set it up, and just watch as the information comes to you. . . .

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:

  • set up your account
  • join the group "Technologies and the Future of Writing Spring 2008"
  • add a link from your blog to see your person public social bookmark page (the URL will be like
  • add a link to the group bookmark page
  • bookmark no less than 10 pages, tag them in ways we discussed in class, and be sure that you are adding them to the group "Technologies and the Future of Writing Spring 2008"
  • add feeds for both your personal and the group’s Diigo pages to your Netvibes ecosystem

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.

Final Essay and Documents

Module 3: Due no later than 11:00pm, Tuesday, 6 May.

Module 2: Due no later than 11:00pm, Tuesday, 15 April. Note: Dr. Wolff will be out of town April 4 – 7. He will try to answer emails as soon as he can, but expect there to be a longer delay than usual.

Module 1: Due no later than 11:00pm, Tuesday, 4 March. Note: Dr. Wolff will be out of town March 2 – March 4. He will try to answer emails as soon as he can, but expect there to be a longer delay than usual.

For your final project, I would like you to discuss your information ecology—which is comprosed of your blog, Netvibes ecosystem, Diigo bookmarks, and Blackboard portfolio—in terms of the major ideas we have discussed in the module (origins, writing spaces, identity and ownership, and the future of writing) and how what we have learned has brought you closer to being skilled in the 9 Core Values described in the first week of class.

This is not a formal essay in the sense that you need a thesis statement. You can structure it as you see fit. I am primarily looking to see how you make connections between the technologies we are using, the theories behind information ecologies and others that we have discussed, and how the work you have done is evidence of your growing proficiency in one or more of the 9 Core Values. Cite from both the essays and your own work—and make references to work that can’t be cited, like the ecosystem and the portfolio space.

Essay must be 4 – 6 pages, double space, Times New Roman, font size 12, 1′ margins all around. Submit the essay and the associated materials (desscribed below) in an IWA folder in the Blackboard portfolio.

Because many of the sites that we have designed are private and your blog posts have, for the most part, been posted annonymously, we are going have to set up some work-arounds so I will be able to "see" your work. They are as follows.

Be sure to 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.

Regardless of if you posted anonymously or by name, please provide:

  • the name of your blog
  • a list of all your blog entry titles (you should have 13)
  • the dates they were posted
  • do the same for any comments that you have made on your peers’ posts

These items should be added to the end of your essay, not in a separate document and not in an email to Dr. Wolff.

Social Bookmarking
Since you are required to link to your public bookmarks from your blog, I should be able to see it. If I can’t I will contact you individually.

Netvibes Ecosystem
Whole ecosystems cannot be shared, but individual tabs can be emailed to another person. To do this, move your mouse over the tab, click the little down arrow, click "Share this tab," and email it to Dr. Wolff. Do this for each of your tabs–so if there are 5 tabs, I should get 5 emails from you. Do not send me emails about individual widgets—just send the tabs, as shown below:

For Module 2 and 3 Only (click image for full size)
screenshot with instruction call-outs for how to send tabs to Dr. Wolff

For Module 1 Only
screen shot of netvibes ecosystem with instructions for how to email tabs to another person

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