Thursday, September 30, 2004

Peer Blogging

Bear with me on an elliptical story:

I just learned that my friend paperwight's blog, Fair Shot, is part of a student writing project for a Composition Class at USCA. The students in the writing class, as part of their assignments, are all writing their own blogs. You can find links to the students' blog on their class homepage, here. (Any of you who drop in and read BOP News may recognize Paperwight as a frequent commenter there--he is an oustanding writer and thinker and I recommend his blog to you, too.)

Now, in the first place, that is too brilliant. The instructors at USCA are succeeding where I have so far (nudge nudge) not quite yet succeeded with you: in making their students familiar and comfortble with blogging tools, including basic html. I wanted to check in with you: are any of you taking classes where blogging is part of the assignment format? Have you even heard of this at the schools you are attending?

One of their assignments has been to write up an assesment of a blog, and one of the blogs on the list was Paperwight's, which is how I stumbled onto their project. (Their other assignments look very interesting, too. I'm quite jealous.)

The students are writing real, live blogs--accessible to the public, with comments turned on. Unfortunately, this weekend, the student blogs were trolled: a number of outside people found the blogs and posted mean-spirited, rude and confrontational comments.

Their instructor, however, seized the opportunity to talk about how writing isn't done in a vacuum, as is too often the case in the classroom--and their collective response to adversity really reminded me of some of our adventures in trying to make Campaign 101 happen.

Now, a handful of you have expressed to me privately that, for a range of reasons, you find blogging intimidating--I've been through the same learning curve myself, very recently, and I really understand what you're talking about. Which is why I encourage you to check out these blogs, written by people your age.

I feel empathy for the student bloggers and their recent negative experience, I am very impressed with the project, and I want to get the rest of you blogging, so I am asking you a favor:

Please go over and check out a couple of the student blogs, and write them some comments. That's all.

You don't have to agree with what they say--the students express quite a range of opinions. I think part of what you'll find interesting is the political opinions of students in a different part of the country, and the way they express themselves. I have great faith in your abilities to be articulate, courteous, and encouraging, even when your views are different. Remember, part of why I am so damn gung ho about getting you blogging is that I want to get you used to articulating your ideas about politics, and writing and conversing about politics with people who may approach the same topics from a very different set of assumptions.

The student blogs are listed in the sidebars on this page. (Incidentally, it looks like it is Section 15 and 16 that have been writing about my friend Paperwight's blog.)

And then...let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing back from you.