Mobile Blogging

Hands on Keyboard

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. cc Public Domain.

Mobile devices provide students and instructors with opportunities to compose and publish multimedia texts on the spot. Blogging platforms of varying complexity offer a palette of tools for complementing the written word with imagery, video, and audio. Additionally, blogs contain hyperlinks which allow for referencing to outside sources, other student blogs, as well as one’s own work. Through linking within a small, course-situated micro-blogosphere, students engage one another through a discourse that is more reflective of informal and professional exchanges.

This section will attempt to summarize the capabilities blogging provides students both in and outside the classroom. During this session, we’ll use an easy to use blogging platform called Tumblr to demonstrate some potential applications for use in the classroom. Although Tumblr is simple, it allows students and instructors to dive right into blogging without becoming overwhelmed with HTML coding and aesthetic considerations. Additionally, Tumblr allow users to share a variety of media types such as imagery and audio files. As a sample of the variety of media Tumblr is capable of utilizing, here is a sample project, called Milwaukee Thaw, composed during a single (warm) day.

Workshop Activity

Today we’ll be using Tumblr to create short compositions about opening morning of the conference. This is based on an in-class activity, conducted during the Fall semester of 2013, that is described below.

  1. If you haven’t already, please download and set up the Tumblr blog for your group
  2. Please share the titles of your Tumblr blogs so that others may follow along and see what you’ve posted. I’ve also set up a blog called 4C Mobile Blogging that will be used to follow everyone’s blogs as well as serve as an aggregate of your findings. You may post directly to 4C Mobile Blogging by sending the file to this email link.
  3. The scavenger hunt is simple: you’ll select 3 objects, subjects, or concepts to find in the conference. You’ll also select 3 different modes with which you’ll post to your Tumblr blog. Tumblr’s mobile app will easily allow you to upload videos, images, and text. Sound files often require workarounds in Tumblr so we’ll skip that for now (but swing by the Audio Capture and Editing session for more on that!).
  4. After 15 minutes, reconvene to share your experiences, discuss your findings and how this might be useful for your class!

Activity 1: In-Class Activity: Defining Concepts Scavenger Hunt

This activity requires students to explore their space to help reinforce their understanding of concepts and definitions covered in class discussions. Using pictures, sounds, and writing, small student groups race to creatively demonstrate comprehension of subject. These multimodal definitions are that collected on a central blog (in this case Tumblr) or microblog such as Twitter.

  1. Break into small groups of 3-4 students ensuring each group has at least two members with a mobile device capable of uploading to Tumblr or Twitter.

  2. Each group is provided with at least 3 terms and/or concepts that had been discussed in class. Having at least one complicated concept in the mix is ideal for encouraging the students to engage the task beyond shallow analysis. Of course, this ratio may be altered depending on the amount of time available.

  3. Students are also provided with a list of formats that must be used to illustrate the definition or concept.

  4. With their groups, students explore the building around the classroom or an area of campus to sufficiently define the term/concept using found objects, personal interviews, and recorded sounds. Visual and audio posts should also be accompanied by a verbal description of how the post addresses the concept.

  5. Provide students with a time limit and a time at which they should return to class to review and explain their posts with the entire class.

Examples of tasks used in my Fall 2013 Introduction to College Composition course after discussing Barbie Zelizer’s “The Voice of the Visual in Memory” (2004):

Definitions and concepts we used included:

  • Collective Memory [concept]
    Heuristic [definition]
  • idiosyncratic [definition]
  • Your group is required to post your definitions using:At least two photos. Accompany images with a brief explanation of the term and how the image helps to define the term.
    Link to a site that embodies but doesn’t define term. For example, to define the term “discourse,” a link to a discussion forum might be used. A brief description should also be included.
Student Photo Discussing "About to Die" moment

Student Photo Discussing “About to Die” moment

Twitter is most accessible to students but there is a negative aspect to this that instructors should be aware of. If a student posts to a Twitter feed, that student’s friends are also made aware of the feed and can (and probably will) work hard at disrupting the class. While this can make for a welcome addition, there is also a potential for exposing harmful messages and images to the class. Although messages posted by the feed owner may be deleted, those posted at the feed cannot be removed. However, Twitter also allows quick deactivation of an account so a temporary Twitter feed may be possible. For research purposes, Twitter offers a compilation of one’s Twitter feed which may be easily archived and downloaded.

Here’s the handouts used in the session: MobileBlogging_handout


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