David Voelker’s “Blogging for Your Students” pertains not just to our class, but also to every one of my classes that blogs or doesn’t blog. Some of my classes use blogs successfully (ADH2012), others don’t use them well, and I have other classes that should use blogs to enhance the discussion. As Voelker stated, “Because of their ease of use, their public and archivable nature, and their ability to foster interaction, blogs have excellent potential as teaching tools.”
In my opinion blogs enhance the discussion in the classroom. Voelker points out that student “comments are more thoughtful and substantial.” I agree with this statement, and I would also say that I think blogging helps students prepare for class. Writing a blog post forces students to summarize what they read/learned or ask questions for clarity. This is valuable because most students (if they even read the assignments) might not retain anything for class discussion. Writing in a blog post forces students to critique think about what they are reading. However, to make this work I do think the instructor needs to make blogging mandatory. And, not just writing posts, but making comments on other classmates’ blogs. Unfortunately, like many assignments students can find a way to not complete them.
I do want to point out one of Voelker’s suggestions because I really like it. You could invite a “guest expert” to blog with the students. I don’t know what this would look like, but I think it could bring a nice change to the blogging.
Alex Sayf Cummings and Jonathan Jarrett’s article “Only Typing Informal Writing, Blogging and the Academy,” discusses the pros and cons of blogging for historians. The demonstrate how blogs help advertise historical research or historians’ individual careers, and produce dialogues with readers that might not have read the argument if it were not on the internet. Despite these positives the authors comment on the main argument, is blogging scholarly? Both authors give their answers to this common critique, but I agree more with Cummings who states, “this informal zone of writing, sharing, and discussion can complement, rather than supplant, the main streams of scholarly discourse and publication.” Blogging does not replace academic journals, but can enhance them.
Daniel J. Cohen’s “Zotero: Social and Semantic Computing for Historical Scholarship,” demonstrates how Zotero can aid researchers compile and share bibliographic information. Zotero makes it easier to import research objects and sort them without using note cards. I think the most important feature of Zotero is sharing and networking your findings with others. One could share books, articles, and websites with anyone looking for the same topic. This opens the field of contributors, and allows scholars to see the updated materials in their fields of study. I liked reading this article because it reminded me how useful Zotero is when researching. I really need to use it more.
The footnotes for Age of Lincoln.
It’s pretty amazing that you can put the text online and then link to where you got your information in your footnotes. I truly believe this is the future the future of citing sources. However, it is in the beginning stages. For example, not all the sources are online (which is fine). Also, some of the links are dead, which is unhelpful.