Permit me to brag about some of my students....
For the past few weeks, a reporter from the Pittspurgh Post-Gazette has been working on an article on weblogs in higher education. I was delighted to see some of my favorite anecdotes about my students' blogging made their way into the article.
Jessica Prokop thought the textbook for her class at Seton Hill University was biased and that its author "seems like a bitter man." In the annals of student rants, nothing extraordinary there.
Except she didn't just blurt out those words in her journalism class. She blogged them. Soon, the author himself was responding all the way from England, pledging to re-examine an upcoming edition given her critique.
Junior Mike Rubino got a more extreme lesson about free speech in the blogosphere. His "10 reasons why Seton Hill doesn't need a football team," including a claim that "jocks" would bring more drugs, alcohol and fights to campus, irked arriving players who found his Internet posting months later.
"I even got calls to my room," he said. "They talked to my roommate, thinking it was me, saying things like they're going to kick my butt."
Awkward encounters? Sure. But instances such as these are providing teachable moments for faculty at a growing number of colleges nationwide, including Seton Hill. There, a professor and his prolific community of student bloggers are exploring the good and the ugly about a rough-and-tumble form of Internet discourse whose popularity has exploded. --Bill Schackner
Schackner does an excellent job looking past the stereotype of bloggers ranting in their pajamas from their parents' basements.