Notes on 2006 CCCC Blogging SIG

NB: Mike Edwards contributed heavily to these notes. In fact, most of what's here is his work, so I want him to get credit for it.

The CCCC Blogging SIG had a large and productive meeting Thursday night in
Chicago. We began by discussing some of the initiatives the SIG had proposed
the previous year, including the one-page paper handout guide for teachers new
to blogging (which, we might hope, will continue to be revised collaboratively and kept up to date as necessary), as well as thoughts about assessment of weblog writing,
outcomes of weblog use in writing courses and professional endeavors, and a possible large multi-institution study investigating the
classroom uses of weblogs.

Following the initial discussion, we split up into five small groups focusing on
action in specific areas. The groups discussed their areas and reported back when
we reconvened. Here are the results of our discussion:

  1. Securing grant funding for a large, qualitative multi-institution
    study on weblogs in writing pedagogy:
    This group thought it would be most appropriate to start
    with simply laying out the steps in the grant-writing process. So:
    1. Put out open
      call for researchers on Kairosnews and other weblogs: have you done classroom-
      based blog research, and would you be willing to share the results? (This,
      initially, might likely involve a simple survey with questions about the number of students involved, the longevity of the study, what the classes were (tech comm? FYC? Advanced composition? Literature courses? etc.), and so forth.)
    2. Mine past CCCC
      programs for presentations on qualitative blog studies to get a sense of what classroom
      research people have already done on blogs.
    3. Use the information gathered
      to shape the drafting of possible research questions focused on the consequences
      of assigning weblog work. (Feedback here with considerations for shaping those
      questions is welcomed!)
    4. Review grant guidelines again given the
      information gathered. (CCCC research initiative and the NCTE Citigroup
      technology grant are possibilities; again, other suggestions are welcomed.)
    5. Compose a budget. (Possible line items include funding for research
      assistants to code data, consultants with expertise in qualitative research,
      SPSS software.)
    6. Flesh out the grant proposal, especially with expected
      outcomes from the study. (One possibility suggested might be an annotated
      bibliography, in the manner of Bedford, of weblog scholarship.)
  2. Assessment and outcomes considerations for weblogs and teaching,
    possibly including questions of genre (Facebook, MySpace, et cetera).
    This group analytically framed its approach as a highly specific (and
    provocative) question: what constitutes an "outcome" for a single blog post?
    Top-down solutions for constructing outcomes seem problematic, so what happens
    if we look for a Web 2.0-style bottom-up mode of analysis; using "dynamic
    criteria mapping" to see how evaluative criteria (as tags) cluster themselves,
    and possibly setting up a space for that online -- what would that look like?
    (Well, let's do it and see!)
  3. Institutional blogging / social software considerations. Action here
    seems fairly straightforward: Compose a position statement to push to the
    resolution committee next year; something that covers comprehensively all these
    areas we're talking about, partly to help move away from the problems of ad-
  4. Weblogs and professionalization. Again, fairly straightforward: we need
    to move the profession towards a space where we're more aware of blogging as
    professional activity. To what degree can we "get credit" for blogging? And,
    deriving from that, how can we start thinking about blogging as professionals?
    (One question that was asked in response: if blogging becomes a professional
    activity, does it lose some portion of its value as teaching/writing tool?) It
    might be useful to compile blog posts that illustrate the professional virtues
    of blogging (viz. Deborah Hawhee's post in order to respond to
    those frequent doubts and questions about the professional value of blogging.
    There's a need, as well, to map and illustrate (viz. Clancy's map of p2p review) for our colleagues how academic interaction
    operates on blogs.
  5. Rethinking the design and architecture of weblogs and other social software
    tools as a necessary component of our discipline
    , and possibly thinking
    about weblogs as a "gateway technology." With blogging, there's a need to move
    beyond composition's ubiquitous pedagogical imperative and ask other questions:
    perhaps about the pitfalls of institutional support (e.g., those who see it as
    not "cool" to use university blog spaces because of the perceived lack of
    "ownership"); about how to aggregate or represent or link to student work (e.g.,
    the question of whether to use a hub or a distributed model; about doing more
    work with design rather than plugging content into preexisting templates.

So: an ambitious agenda, with lots of stuff to do. The next necessary question
would seem to be: are there people who would be willing to shepherd these
projects, either individually or collaboratively?

Finally, two questions and an announcement:

  • Would it perhaps be useful and productive to merge the efforts of the
    Blogging SIG and the Wiki Rhetoricians SIG -- perhaps into the CCCC Social
    Software SIG?
  • Would a SIG blog be useful? (Consensus: yes.) There seemed to be broad
    agreement that the easiest solution might be adding a SIG category for posts
    here at Kairosnews. [Done.--Clancy]
  • And now the announcement: During the meeting, Collin proposed that Kairos name the Best Academic Weblog award after John Lovas. We felt that it was the best idea presented the whole night. Mike emailed Doug Eyman, who wholeheartedly agreed. Thanks to everyone for a great meeting.

Cross-posted at CultureCat.

Technorati tag:


Anyone else notice that many of the category links for this post aren't working in Firefox? It's as if my mouse doesn't recognize them as links. I spent five minutes looking at the source code for the source of the problem. Anyone else have the problem and figure out what it is, let me know so I can fix it in Drupal.

I'm having the same problem in Safari, only it's the categories on the first line that don't work, while the ones on the second line seem to work fine.

And when I resize the window (to minimize "first-line" links), only the ones at the very bottom work. Everything above them (including ones that worked when my page was wide) does not.


I sort of wiggled the cursor over the links and they worked. The Opera browser doesn't show the links as links, either, and wiggling didn't help...

Information Architecture and all the categories after that work, but the ones before it don't.

Also, on this post, the first two listed categories don't work.


It seems to start at the "Submitted by" line.

It seems related to window width: when I resize the window bigger, I get more clickable category links.

Did a little digging around and talked with Bob Broad about "mapping." It's definitely possible to conduct the process online. I'm continuing to look for the most appropriate interface.

If this little project works out, it could be one of the niftiest things ever (from my POV)-- more engaging as a process and richer as a product than your typical static Outcomes doc. That's what I'm hoping, at least...

"more engaging as a process and richer as a product than your typical static Outcomes doc. "

Absolutely. And more appropriate given the genre.


I am so happy to hear that an award is to be named for John Lovas. I've been very disappointed in the general 4C's response to his passing, given all that he had done for the profession and the organization. TYCA ran a tepid memorial piece about him, but I haven't heard much of anything else. Of course, I could be wrong and simply out of the loop, so to speak.


See if it works now. Previously, the layout was using span styles. I've changed it to use div's (thus the slightly different layout). Works fine on Firefox now.

The blogs list has sort of slowed down in activity. Perhaps a more robust social software list and SIG would stimulate more discussion and engagement. However, if we expand to the range of social software, do we want to focus down to the pedagogical? Not that we can't discuss Internet culture and other implications social software has for society, but perhaps the SIG itself (not the listserv) should stick to pedagogy for its topic at the conference, all other things being good on the listserv.

BTW: Why not prepare a Kairosnews poll, and we can invite blogs members and people here to vote?