Using Weblogs to Connect to the Valuable Public

Sharing journals within the writing classroom is not a new concept. Well before weblogs became popular, Chris Anson and Richard Beach (1995) encouraged teachers to extend the principles behind the dialogue journal to peer dialogue journals, where, working in pairs or groups of three, students share journals entries. Like weblogs can, peer dialogue journals provide students "with the social interaction and motivation to extend their writing" not available through private journal writing (65). However, as Anson and Beach caution, the logistics of sharing print texts could make it difficult to coordinate and exchange dialogue journals in the classroom. As an alternative, they suggest email peer dialogue journals, "interactive environments" that can create "a strong sense of community in which students can assume an active role as a participant" (76). Though they make sharing more logistically sound, email peer dialogue journals still keep sharing within the walls of the classroom.

Moving to the Public: Weblogs in the Writing Classroom

By Charles Lowe and Terra Williams

This paper is a final submission draft which was accepted by the University of Minnesota Blog Collective-- Laura Gurak, Smiljana Antonijevic, Laurie Johnson, Clancy Ratliff, and Jessica Reyman, editors--for inclusion in the forthcoming collection Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs.

Why Move from MT to Drupal?


I just posted the following to forums. I've been very happy using Drupal as a blogger and can't imagine using anything else. For instance, I don't know what I'd do without my news aggregator. But I also recognize that MT users who are considering a move to new software are carefully evaluating their choices before making a switch. Perhaps this will help . . .

On May 13, Movable
Type announced
that with version 3.0 they would be "Getting Their Pricing
Right." The new licensing scheme--which only makes MT available for free
for 1 author and up to 3 websites--is, as Mark
Pilgrim has pointed out
, a demonstration that "free enough" does
not guarantee any freedoms in the long term. And so many current MT users are
now searching for copyleft and/or open source blogging software alternatives.

Anyone following the many trackback links from MT's announcement will notice
that WordPress is the most popular GPL'd alternative considered by most MT bloggers.
Drupal gets plenty of mention, but often in the context of being described as
too difficult to install or a too feature heavy system for basic bloggers. Indeed,
for many individual users who keep one blogsite and are happy enough with the
features they have now, WP may be the best choice.

But also within those conversation threads across the blogosphere is a common
critique: MT's 3.0 release is feature light, with comment spam control being
the only new addition. Many MT users had looked forward to increased capabilities
in MT 3.0, only to find increased price. Many MT plugin developers now feel
that MT development is first about making money and community second.

What about MT for the Classroom?


I just noticed that MT's new licensing scheme only allows a maximum of 20 authors and a maximum of 15 weblogs on the most comprehensive and expensive paid commercial version. That would rule out community blog use or individual student weblogs in many classes. And who is going to pay $599? There is mention of educational licensing on this page in the right hand block column, but note that it applies to institutions, not individual teachers who might want to run MT for their classes on their own:

Accredited educational institutions that make use of Movable Type are eligible for our educational licensing program.

Nor is there additional information on the educational version (the link provided goes to the contact page).

That's the Risk

As the saying goes, there's no such thing as a free ride. Well, as dive into mark explains, Movable Type announced a new licensing scheme this week for MT 3.0 which will charge for multiple author sites or a single user with more than 3 sites:

And yesterday I learned, as most of you have probably also learned, that Movable Type 3.0 comes with a new licensing plan. 1 author and 3 sites is free. Up to 3 authors and 5 sites: $100. Up to 6 authors and 8 sites: $150. Up to 9 authors and 10 sites: $190.

I have 11 Movable Type sites. To upgrade to Movable Type 3.0 would cost me $700.

I remember when Blackboard was offering free sites to individual teachers. That is, until they also reached a dominant market share where they no longer needed to provide a free version. So MT users beware. Who's to say that 4.0 will have any free versions at all?

Best just to stick to GNU GPL'd software ;)

Forced Blogging: Building Community


I feel like I've been remiss in not getting to blogging about the sessions I attended at 4C's. For instance, Dennis Jerz's “Forced Blogging: Students’ Emotional Investment
in Their Academic Weblogs” (25 March). Dennis gave us some great views of student investment in their blog when considered in light of voluntary or forced (assigned) blogging. One of the students at Seton Hill, Anthony, had this to say during a student online discussion about forced blogging:

As a student solely judging my amount of work to be expected in a 3 credit class, then I'd say forget it, no way. However, I'm getting quite a different vibe from blogging all together. Honestly, I rarely visit Dr. Jerz's blog. But, I do feel that his involvment with our blogs shows a degree of commitment to us as students. Not as college students, but as students. The forum that blogging allows us to take part in is the new town square. Percieving blogs as the new town square pushes me to seeing it as something that Socrates and Plato would frequent. And, it is this perception that encourages involvement beyond requirement and external motivation.