Take the entire class digital

Ronald R. Rodgers | University of Florida

This teaching idea is not about any one thing, but about the digital presentation of an editing class. Except for assignments filed to an e-Learning system, I have cut the cord from any university-related website and/or server by using a blogging platform - in this case Blogger.

For example, in the past I would store lab exercises and readings on the e-Learning system or in a computer drive the department sets aside for that purpose (and which students have access to only in class). Now:

• I post as pages to the editing blog The Scriptorium my syllabus, the class assignments and various other class-related information.

• I download Word documents, PDFs and PowerPoints onto Google Documents and then link to them from the editing blog.

• I link directly to readings, practice quizzes, etc. on the Web or as posts to the blog.

• I link directly to collections of readings on a particular topic through a Delicious url. For example, here is a collection of readings on the debate about online comment policies taking place in the blogosphere and a topic for discussion in my lab and/or lecture: http://delicious.com/TripleR/comments

• My Twitter account, which I use as a teaching tool, and a link to Journalism News on Google News are constantly updated through gadgets added to the blog.

Some might ask why I bother. I have discovered several advantages:

In the past I have used both a website and the editing blog in the class - along with the e-Learning system. This has engendered one common complaint among students - that the class was too decentralized. Now, however, students go only to the editing blog and then link out from there. The only time they have to leave it is to file assignments to the e-Learning system.

1. The editing blog is quickly adaptable and essentially acts as a growing, living textbook that can easily be edited or updated - especially much more so than using ftp to transfer documents or add links. For example, the morning of a class, I can quickly activate the links to the day’s editing assignments in Google Docs.

2. And, students can also keep up to the minute with any updates by maintaining a reader with an RSS feed from the editing blog.

3. The blog and the links to Google Docs expand storage space much beyond the capacity of the server space I have on the university’s server. I have not yet had to spike any documents using this system to keep under the limit as I have had to do with the university’s system.

4. Also, because my university’s e-mail listserv system greatly limits the size of attachments, I am planning this coming semester to use the RSS feed system as a kind of class listserv by following the feeds of my students’ blogs, where they will post questions.

5. The blog is accessible both spatially and temporally. The latter is especially important because I have many former students who still consult the site for answers to editing questions or to use the career link.

6. And, finally, if I were to leave tomorrow, the blog with all its exercises and readings - unlike e-Learning or the university website - would go with me.

The Scriptorium is accessible at http://editingmonks.blogspot.com/

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