The Blogging SIG

The discussion at the CCCC Blogging SIG was, I thought, fairly productive. I didn't attend the one last year, but I'm told that a lot of the people who attended didn't know much about weblogs, so much of the time was spent on basics. This time, we split up into small groups and reported back to the larger group. Here are my notes from the small group presentations:

The first group discussed institution-wide blogging initiatives. UThink wasn't discussed, but I'm sure people will be talking about it next year, as researchers are compiling data about the uses of the UThink weblogs. Someone brought up possible connections with service learning and getting the community involved. Also, the group talked about the ways weblogs are being used in writing classrooms. The group concluded that we shouldn't just transfer what we already know about notebooks, listservs, etc. and think weblogs will make it better.

The second group discussed ways the Blogging SIG can partner with NCTE. Weblogs can be used in conjunction with CCC Online, and could play a larger role in the actual conference. Blog space could be provided for SIGs; content management systems could be used to deliver content in a variety of ways.

The third group discussed student privacy in weblog writing. They recommended creating a position statement on weblog research ethics and student privacy to augment individual universities' Institutional Review Board policies on weblog research.

The fourth group talked about using weblogs in teaching in the two-year college. They called for more professional development for teachers who are using or who want to use weblogs. They made a distinction between the early adopters and the most resistant and posed a couple of important questions: What are the specific resistances? What are some ways to get beyond them?

The last group -- my group, which consisted of Sam and myself, discussed academic blogging's role in hiring, tenure, and promotion as well as scholarly publishing. See Sam's notes here. We argued that it's important for academics to include their weblogs in their dossiers if they want them to be recognized as scholarly work, even if one has to create a new category such as "Other Resources." We tossed around the idea of drafting a position statement arguing that blogging should be taken seriously as scholarly work, possibly citing cases in which tenure and promotion committees recognized academic bloggers' work and pointing out that publishing traditional scholarly work using weblog software lets more people have access to the scholarship and cuts costs and the time it takes to publish.

This upcoming year, Mike and I are co-chairing the SIG, so please let us know if you have ideas for specific discussion topics and/or concerns. At the SIG, I expressed interest in tracking writing instructors' use of weblogs in the classroom. Right now, some who are studying the use of weblogs in writing classes are noting some frustration, particularly when the instructors themselves don't have experience blogging or when the instructors are using a weblog in place of (or in the same way one would use) other online discussion tools. Will this still be a problem next year? What, if any, new problems will arise?