RSS and other things on my mind…

Originally, I was going to blog about my thoughts about RSS feeds. I was going to write about how I set up My GoogleReader and how I have started to unsubscribe from my various email newsletters (none of which I seem to be able to keep up with anyway). I was going to talk about how the initial excitement and motivation after signing up for a new email newsletter typically wears off pretty quickly. And about how I am left with an email account full of too many unread emails. I was also going to elaborate on how I usually end up reverting back to accessing webpages the old-fashioned way – through my bookmarks toolbar….

But instead I am going to reflect on my learning experience in this course so far. This week, to be honest, I feel a little bit out of the loop. After frantically working on several other deadlines, I came home last night, sat down it my papasan chair, and browsed to our Learning Portal to catch up on the newest blog posts about RSS feeds. I was surprised to see that the two most popular posts where not on RSS but on student learning, engagement, and motivation in general.  I read 2centsblogger’s post who referenced Laura’s Blog. I read Laura’s post right after. My first reaction was something along the line of “Wait… What happened? What did I miss?” I did take this opportunity to reflect on my own learning experience and on what I have been taking out of this course so far.

Grad 602 has introduced me to several interesting technologies, which I have found to be useful for my own learning and for potential integration into the classroom. While some of them are only “nice-to-know-ofs” (e.g., Twitter – sorry!), others are absolutely great (e.g., GoogleReader, Diigo). Getting my hands dirty with each of them allows me to make a sophisticated, informed decision about whether they will be of any use now, later, or ever. Although I appreciate the collaborative nature of the course, I don’t see it as a necessary element to maximize my learning, as others appear to do. Commenting on each other’s blogs, tweeting each other, etc. can definitely be fun and interesting. I like to read and react to comments related to my posts. But I don’t mind if nobody reads/comments on them. For me it is all about the exposure to new forms of technology and about experimenting with them in a safe learning environment. The interactive, collaborative piece to it is secondary (although not unimportant!) to me. Is that selfish? Maybe.

Now, back to my initial blog idea: RSS is such a convenient way of aggregating, customizing, and rerouting information. I feel as enthusiastic about RSS as I do about Diigo (see last week’s post). Definitely a useful, time-saving, and an efficient way of staying up-to-date. My email account will thank me.

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6 thoughts on “RSS and other things on my mind…

  1. Hey! Thanks for joining our discussion on student engagement! In one of my previous blogs I explained that I was trying to explore the “magic” of face to face classes so that I could better decide how to convert that “magic” into an online setting…the reasoning was along the lines of how do you transform something if you don’t know what you already have? And so to that end I’ve devoted at least a little section of each blog to a metaanalysis of our class experience.

    As far as your statements above, I agree with all of them to a certain extent. Having been involved in blog triads in other classes in which students had a higher buy-in from the very beginning, I can tell you that the experience can be quite “magical”. The group experience transcends the individual experience. And I miss it terribly. But if I had never had the experiences I am describing, I would have absolutely no idea what I was talking about right now :). I’m glad you are ok with individual reflection, because as you say, that is extremely valuable too.

  2. Interesting reflection…wondering about the dynamics of lurking (which is a perfectly acceptable web practice) versus active two-way interaction such as that solicited by Laura. Learning can occur in the first, and usually occurs in the second. Much to ponder….

    • Interesting point, Britt. Lurking…I love to lurk and I know from experience that lurking can be much less intimidating than commenting. I think that the lurker can learn a lot, but obviously the be-lurked learns nothing from the lurking. Should we try to stratify the knowledge? … Level 1: “Individual Reflection” What the person learns from doing the writing. Level 2: “Lurking” What the lurker learns from reading someone else’s material. It can then be taken back to the lurker’s writing…Level 3: “Commenting” Allows the “Individual” to hear the voice of the “Lurker” and reflect that back onto the original reflection. It also gives an obvious forum for the “Lurker” to organize and solidify their thoughts, assuming that not every lurker is going to rush back to right a reflective piece on what they just read on someone else’s page. Level 4: “Dialogue” When the comments go back and forth multiple times so that the “Individual” and the “Commenter” (aka the transformed “Lurker”) begin to reflect off of each other, going further, transforming the original thought into a body of work constructed by two or more individuals. It’s kind of like playing with legos yall.

      You know, I think that stratification would look better in a graphic..

      • Concur…but still see differences between these four levels occurring organically and naturally, versus the “required” communications aspects of most courses. Levels 3 and 4 require a level of trust that may or may not be present in most adult courses.

  3. Laura & Britt: Thanks to both of you for introducing and discussing the notion of lurking. It is dead on and really interesting to think about… Here are my initial thoughts: The use of online technology, such as blogging, invites all kinds of individuals – passionate commenters, passive lurkers or something in between. From the blogger’s perspective, the benefits of having an engaged or a passive audience depend on the blog content and the intention of the blogger. If a blog is used simply as a tool to express ideas, views and opinions, lurkers are just as welcome as passionate commenters. During our first (or second?) class session, we talked about the advantages of writing publicly versus writing without an audience, e.g., word document. The “pressure” of being public motivates to think harder, choose words more wisely, etc. Conversely, a blogger who is more interested in starting a dialogue gains little from a passive audience. If a blogger can gain the trust and interest of his/her readers, interaction and dialogue will emerge eventually, I believe. In a class environment, the level of trust needed for a higher level of engagement via blog comments (or any other tool, really) is hard to reach. Unless it is required, of course. 😉

    • I agree with Britt’s and Mau5’s comments but I’m saddened about the “difficult to trust” aspect of your points, although I can tell you are both dead on. For the last year I have lived in a bubble of a supportive environment in which classmates disagree all the time but we trust each other to be open and honest in both class discussions and blog discussions. It’s a cultural thing. The classroom doesn’t have to be a place in which classmates make fun of each other, disrespect each other, or mistrust each other. As far as trusting your readership on a blog…in some of my other posting venues, I’ve had some random rude comment posters, but it’s amazing how fast the usual commenters are to rush in and beat the rude person to a bloody pulp on my behalf (and I do it for them, too). As global as the web is, people tend to have local (geographic or otherwise) conversations and so the culture rule still applies.

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