I chose a blog as the platform for my reading log mainly because I felt that the wide variety of options, designs, and templates would allow mine to have an identity of its own. I wanted a platform that was not only useful, but also personalized, easily navigable, and visually appealing. Considering the reader as well as myself, I decided that I needed something striking but not distracting: a visual medium of substance and style. What I’ve ended up with is this blog called Wandering Minds. Since it is also used for other posts, I have created a Reading Log category that provides the reader easy access to relevant posts. There are sixteen entries in that category that range in length from 250 to 750 words. For the most part, the typical post is usually somewhere around 450 words. I’ve tried to maintain a focused writing approach and avoid too much rambling digression.
It is worth mentioning that each post has its own title. Rather than simply labeling them “Response to Article” or “Entry #5,” I tried to choose titles that would hint at the content of the post and attract the attention of the reader. The content of the posts is somewhat wide-ranging, but they all treat a specific notion, idea, or thought that struck me as worthy of reflection and exploration. For instance, “A Moral Lesson?” was my philosophical response to the self-policing group dynamic evidenced by Wikipedia. Other entries reflect a focus on educational applications of new technologies (“Social Homework”), while some discuss the social and intellectual ramifications of those technologies (“Another Link in the Chain”). Over the course of the semester, I have tried to narrow the focus of my posts. Concentrating on unpacking the ideas that interest me, it was my intention to go more deeply into an issue rather than more broadly. I am not sure that all of the posts are successful in that endeavor, but that was my mindset. For that reason, the longer posts are not necessarily of higher quality because they might contain a bit too much digression. However, some posts ended up being longer simply because they dealt with much more text. While I tried to keep a narrow focus and concentrate on one facet of the text that I found particularly interesting, I sometimes felt compelled to include relevant information found elsewhere in the text, which tended to broaden my focus a bit.
The best posts seem to address a small portion of the reading and then express its implications in a personal, educational, or social context. I discovered that my writing benefitted from using the readings as prompts or springboards to foster my own development and elaboration of a pressing issue. Identifying a certain notion and then using it as a starting point for critique served as an effective approach to this writing. I responded especially strongly to Nicholas Carr’s book, The Shallows, because the concept of understanding the internet in a historical context of the development of tools struck me as particularly provocative. Putting the book down became somewhat difficult as I was learning so much about history, technology, and brain function. I also found that I had a strong response to the readings that treated the specific application of new technology to the classroom. In “Collaboration 2.0,” I respond to an article that addresses the ways in which new technologies have revolutionized the group project and collaborative paper. I found that article especially appropriate because of the collaborative work I have done this semester utilizing blogs and wikis. Not only did the article provide some good ideas about the possibilities that those Web-based applications create for the classroom, my personal experience with them gives me the confidence I need to make the most out of what they have to offer.
Perhaps my opinion is biased, but I feel that there is a good deal of worthwhile writing in this log. In avoiding summary as much as possible, I forced myself to apply my new learning to issues and topics that are relevant to 21st century pedagogy. That approach yields itself to a valuable brand of writing because it encourages an analysis of ideas, but more importantly, it is conducive to self-exploration. Sitting down to write about what you think inevitably leads to a deeper understanding of what that is and why. As Tom Romano notes in Writing with Passion, “Good writing, regardless of the mode of discourse, causes writers to think” (6). That notion of the inextricable link between writing and thought is at the heart of the work done in this log. Engaging meaningfully in readings by exploring new ideas and raising questions is central to any serious study. While that thoughtful engagement through writing gives this work value, the requirement to use an online platform is also key to the assignment’s success. Since I had absolutely no experience with blogging, the task, though daunting at first, proved to be invaluable in familiarizing myself with Web 2.0. I found that I wanted to post even when I knew that I should be working on other assignments; I have caught the bug. There is indeed a lot left to learn and much with which to experiment, but this assignment gave me a solid foundation for developing as a teacher in the current technology-driven climate.
The three posts below reflect the range of responses contained in my log:
“On a Limb” (6.10.11): Exploring the educational implications of new technology.
“A Brainy Tool” (7.9.11): Discussing the intellectual ramifications of internet usage.
“All Snap, No Bite” (6.16.11): Treating a personal reaction to visual rhetoric