wrts15 blogging assignment

Assignment Overview

This semester students will be broken into small blog groups based on their study hashtag. Students will set up the blog, including widgets, an About page, and a research study page, with the goal of creating a professional blog that people can read to learn about your study and the hashtag you are studying.

There are two related parts to this assignment:

  1. writing about texts relating to your hashtag, and
  2. reflecting on the various writing spaces you will use to compose the blog posts.

Other assignments will require blog posts, as well.

Unlike most course blogs, which are available to the world but are primarily read by those in the class, one main goal of your blogs will be to gain significant outside and responsive readership—specifically those who use or are interested in the hashtag you’re studying.

To get that readership, the blog posts will need to be informed, insightful, curious, authoritative, and in-depth, and very well written. Each post should be treated as an important piece of writing. Each post will need to have features that are important to blogs and blog readers: links whenever having one would make a meaningful connection, images, video, and so on. And, all of us will need to spend time broadcasting the posts to as many people or groups associated with your hashtag as possible. Write with the tone of exploration but with the confidence of an expert, not just a student learning something new in class. Rather, a writer and researcher thinking through new ideas on important subjects. Of course, use tags and assign appropriate categories–be sure to uncheck Uncategorized.

Example blog posts will be added.

Writing About Texts Relating to Your Hashtag

For your posts, you will be writing about texts relating to your hashtag, such as fan web sites, fanzines, official web pages, associated social media sites, and scholarly writings.

To create the content of your posts, you will not be using the WordPress interface. Rather, for the blogging assignment posts only, the actual alphabetic content of the posts will be composed using different online and offline writing spaces. The resulting content will be transferred to the blog where you will add images, links, and other media. The writing spaces you’ll be using to compose many of your posts are:

  • ZenPen
  • GoogleDocs
  • a phone or tablet writing app of your choice
  • vintage manual typewriter
  • Ommwriter

Specifics and due dates for these posts will be added below.

Writing about the Writing Spaces Used to Compose Post Content

Students will compose reflections on what it is like to compose in each of the five writing spaces listed above. These posts should contain screenshots or photos of the act of composing, including a reflection on what it was like to write in the space. Specifics and due dates for these posts will be added below.

Assignment Specifics

Once you have been broken into blog groups, each group must complete the following:

  • by the end of the class on 2/5
    • name the blog and give it a subtitle
    • create a hashtag for the blog
    • update the default About page with a brief bio about each blog author and the hashtag they will be studying; eventually link the hashtag under study to their study page
    • post your research proposal with a meaningful title
  • by class time on 2/12
    • each group member will compose a research study page which contains a brief outline of the study and its study goals, brief weekly updates, and a detailed discussion of findings

Specifics for Blog Posts on Hashtag-Associated Texts

Each blog post should be at least 500 words and contain links whenever having one would make a meaningful connection, images, video, and so on. Compose the blog post in the assigned writing space, then transfer the content to the Add Post screen and add images, links, video, etc. Add multiple tags and at least category. When using the typewriter and phone/tablet, you can just add images of your content. Create post titles that will be meaningful and engaging for those associated with your hashtag. Tweet a link to your blog posts, adding your hashtag and your blog hashtag.

Connect your discussions to at least one of the course readings. The more connections you make and the more thoughtful your discussion the higher your blogging grade will be.

Post 1: ZenPen • Due by start of class Thursday, 2/19
Use ZenPen to discuss what you have learned about your hashtag by looking at the test TAGS archive you created in class on Thursday (or on your own if you were absent). Questions you might consider, but are not required to (do not just answer them in order in your post): Who are the top tweeters and what kinds of content are they tweeting? What hashtags are associated with your hashtag? What are people linking to and what kinds of mages are they uploading? Are people conversing or are they just stating something without replying? Are people retweeting and if so what kinds of content are they? Include screen shots of the TAGSExplorer visualization.

Post 2: GoogleDocs • Due by start of class Thursday, 2/26
Use GoogleDocs to discuss the various web sites associated with your hashtag. What do you learn about your hashtag by seeing these spaces?

Post 3: phone or tablet app • Due by start of class Thursday, 3/5 Friday, 3/6 at 11:00pm
Use a phone or tablet writing app of your choice to discuss the various social media spaces associated with your hashtag. What do you learn about your hashtag by seeing these spaces?

Post 4: Vintage TypewriterDue by 11:00pm start of class Thursday, 3/12 Sunday, 3/15
(requirements updated 3/10/15)
Use one of the vintage typewriters set up in the Faculty Center, James Hall 3092, to discuss 1 scholarly book and 2 3 scholarly journal articles associated with your hashtag. The typewriters will be set up Wednesday 3/4 – Friday 3/13. The faculty is open Monday – Friday 8:30 – 5:00 and the typewriters will be available every day, though they won’t be there until around noon on 3/4. Start looking for the book and journal articles sooner rather than later. You might look in the works cited lists in Baym’s book and in Potts’ (2012) and Bennett’s (2014) articles to help you get started.

Post 5: Ommwriter WordPress • Due by start of class 11:00pm Friday, 4/3 Thursday, 3/27
Use Ommwriter WordPress to discuss what you have learned about your hashtag overall based on the research you have done in the prior 4 posts and what we have read in class.

Specifics for Blog Posts Reflecting on the Five Writing Spaces

Each reflection should be at least 300 words long and contain screen shots and/or photos of you working in the space. The reflections should be composed in WordPress. Be sure to contextualize your reflection and link to the post associated with your reflection. Add multiple tags and at least categories. There may also be additional requirements based on the specific space. Create meaningful post titles and tweet a link to your reflection, adding the course hashtag. For each space you use, use the following questions as a guide for your reflection:

  • What kind(s) of writing or writer(s) does this writing space invite and/or discourage?
  • What is it like to write via this writing space? Is it familiar? Is it foreign? Nostalgic? Romantic?
  • What is afforded by writing in this space and how does it differ from other spaces?
  • What are the constraints of the space and how do they affect what you write?
  • How does the composing environment itself impact the resulting text?
  • What happens to the text after composing in the space and how does understanding that affect your writing and/or approach to writing?
  • What else is important to know or think about?

Reflection Post 1: ZenPen • Due by 11:00pm Friday, 2/20

Reflection Post 2: GoogleDocs • Due by 11:00pm Friday, 2/27
To complete this reflection, you will need to install the Draftback extension for the Chrome browser. You can learn about the plugin at draftback.com. Here are instructions for installing the extension and using Draftback:

In your post, discuss the above bullet points and use the Draftback playback of your writing to discuss your writing process. What do you learn about how you write by watching the playback of your writing? For example, are you linear or do you jump around? Do you revise while writing or wait until the end? That kind of thing. Try to be as detailed and specific as possible. Please link to your Draftback playback. If you have any trouble with this, please let me know.

Reflection Post 3: phone or tablet app • Due by 11:00pm Friday, 3/6
Be sure to name and link to the app you use.

Reflection Post 4: Vintage Typewriter • Due by 11:00pm Friday, 3/13 Sunday, 3/15
Be sure to take lots of photos of your writing on the typewriter.

Reflection Post 5: Ommwriter • Due by 11:00pm Friday, 4/3 11:00pm Friday, 3/28

For this post, you do not need to refer to the bulleted questions above. Rather, addressthe following:

Thinking about the features you found useful and less useful in each of the 5 writing spaces we’ve used this semester (WordPress, Zenpen, GoogleDocs, typewriter, phone/tablet app, I’d like you to describe your ideal writing environment. Things to consider: What features would it it have? How would it sound? What would it look like? How would you access and save your work? What kinds of interactivities (re Baym) would it afford? What kind of web 2.0 connectivities might be there (such as, your Twitter feed)? What kind of content could you use in that one place (text, image, video, audio)? Please try to avoid saying, “Microsoft Word because that’s what your used to.” Word has it’s benefits and drawbacks, so I’d like to you really try to think of a space of your own….

Reminder, from the syllabus on grades

A note about grades: grades in the A-range are those that show the student working at levels significantly higher than what is expected. Grades in the B-range are those that show the student working at levels at or just above what is expected. Grades at the C-level and below are those that show the student working at levels below what is expected.

Using Images in a Blog Post

When determining if you can use an image in your post, use the following flow chart (see a larger version):

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