Monthly Archives: October 2016

Two Prompts in One


Okay so this week I’m away attending OpenEd 2016 but class is still going to go on as we harness digital tools to work together online this next week.

We are going to put two prompts into this week and generate two blog posts this week. The first centers around participation.

Reflection on Rheingold Chapters

We have just finished reading two important chapters from Rheingold on participation and social media. This first prompt is simply a reflection on those chapters. What was learned while reading them and what questions still remain? How do the chapters relate to one another and to the rest of the book. We are currently in the participation portion of the course. What does it mean to participate publically on the internet? What does it mean to participate privately? What responsibilities do we have to ourselves and to each other when participating online? What about these other terms like networking and collaboration, how do they compare to “participation”?

Participation Prompt

The point of this prompt is to write a post that puts you in a position of participating in a conversation in public. This is not just a reflection on your experience but engaging with someone else’s experience or thinking on a topic. You are to find a blog post (you can use your classmates’ post from previous weeks, perhaps some of the posts that were tweeted on the #fyschat chat stream, or other posts that you find interesting) on the web that you have something to say about and respond in a blog post. You should of course make it clear that you are responding to this post by hyperlinking to it and letting the author know that you have responded. This can be tricky. Depending on the post you may have to grapple with questions about how much you can understand about another person’s experience or where should you be asking questions rather than making statements. If you are struggling to find a post from a blogger that you would like to respond to I will allow you to respond to a current event in the news – again you will need to link to the article that you are responding to and you should be sensitive to how others may view this event and be fair to opposing views.

There are two due dates for these prompts but you can choose which you want to do first and which you want to do second. The dates are Nov. 2nd and Nov 5th.

Image Credit CC BY-ND 2.0 Intersect by Bill Ohl

Transition or Informal Paideia: A Choice in Blog Prompts

As the semester continues I’m hoping that I can give students more choice in blog prompts or that we might collaboratively come up with some blog prompts together. This week I am hinting at that by having two possible prompts that students can choose between.

Transition from High School to College

Next week we start #fyschat where we will be annotating a Washington Post article with The article is about why good high school students are not necessarily good college students. I thought that having students reflect on their own experience of transitioning from high school to college would be a cool way to tie things into #fyschat and that they may even want to share their posts during the Twitter chat on the 25th.

However, a few weeks ago I had given student’s a wildcard prompt and let them blog about anything that they wanted and many of them chose to blog about just that. So, that would be pretty boring for those students. Hence my reasoning for coming up with two options.


Being a first-year seminar this class is only half my design. Being an honors section puts on, even more, requirements to do certain assignments and use certain assessments. I don’t mind it at all. I actually think it is pretty awesome that we have a group of educators that are thinking about what all students should experience. I get a lot of freedom to put my own “digital citizenship” spin on things and I like thinking about ways to integrate things.

One of the assignments that everyone has to do is a “paideia essay”. The prompt is collectively written by the working group and it calls on students to personally reflect on some big questions. The questions center around what it means to be a college student at a liberal arts institution, what does the student feel called to do in terms of vocation, how does a liberal arts education fit into that, what does it mean to be an educated person, etc. It is also very practical as it asks questions about what the student will study and how they will study.

Another thing I did with one of the blog prompts in weeks past is that I based it on the prompt for the midterm paper. I did this to give students a way to write informally in public about the same topic that they would write about formally for the midterm. This gave them an opportunity to practice writing about those ideas on a public forum where I knew they would get feedback from each other (I do ask them to comment on each other’s posts) but they had a chance at getting some feedback from people that might read their posts.

So, the second option of the prompt is the informal paideia. Same as the assignment but on their blogs and written for the public.

I’m hoping that by giving some choice students will be able to pick a prompt that works for them. I’m hoping to get more creative with the prompts as we go along.



Image Credit: By user “a4gpa” ( [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Prompt 4 – Hyperlinks

For this week’s blog prompt I’ve asked my DigCiz students to write about hyperlinks. We discussed it and brainstormed it in class a little bit. I’m always harping on them to use more hyperlinks in their posts. I’m not sure they understand why I put them through this.

A part of it is the simple digital literacy of creating a hyperlink. Different systems do it differently and there could be a whole post just on how they are technically created in various environments. I’ve come to appreciate how I can highlight text in WordPress, with a URL waiting on the clipboard, paste it over the text and rather than the text disappearing and being replaced by the URL a hyperlink is created. Other systems don’t make it so easy. Some force you to use a WYSIWYG editor and for some others if you don’t know how to code the HTML you are out of luck.

There is, of course, the point about citation to be made when talking about hyperlinks. It is important to understand your influences and to be transparent about where ideas (and materials) are coming from. In a formal citation we make a notation in the text following a certain rules of style which then reference a list at the end of the paper or the page that give more information about how we can find that resource. The hyperlink is doing something very similar but in a much more compact format.

However, a big reason why I want students to think and write about hyperlinks is because I want to draw out a conversation about layers and connection in knowledge. This is the bigger conversation that I want to have. I’m not sure that all students will get it but I want to challenge all of them to consider it. We just finished reading Vannevar Bush’s 1945 article As We May Think where Bush envisions a machine that could trace the connections of knowledge. We did an improv exercise in class where we said the first word that came to our minds based on the word the previous person said. We are starting to explore how the pursuit of knowledge is a connected endeavor more so than a transactional one.

Of course there is the old game of “Hey look at me. I’m the professor and I have all the knowledge. Now I will give the knowledge to you and then you will give it back to me so that I can make sure you got it.” That is a thing and I don’t want to belittle it because there are tons of instances where that might be the best way to learn a thing. However, when we stop seeing knowledge acquisition as only possible via a transaction and we start seeing it in terms of connection then powerful things start happening. 

So, I’m hoping that students will consider different dimensions concerning hyperlinks. That they will do some searching on the different purposes around hyperlinks that are of interest to them, write about that, and of course link to the things that they found interesting. These next three weeks we are talking about environments and we will get into other ways of layering knowledge and connecting.

Image Credit by Xavier Gigandet et. al. [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Prompt 3 – Wildcard

Prompt 3 for the DigCiz class is a wildcard where students can feel free to move away from blogging about digital citizenship and actively be digital citizens. All of the students in the class have two blogs. One on a root level domain that they wrote a domain intention for and one on a subdomain for the DigCiz course. This prompt is a chance for students to spend some time being digital citizens. I want to encourage all of the students to return to their domain intentions that they wrote out a few weeks ago and use this as an opportunity to get that first post up about the thing that they are passionate about.

Also note that this prompt is in a video format. I’m doing this because I want to encourage students to think about maybe creating a blog post in another kind of format – video, audio, image,  I’m adding some text around it that basically says the same thing as what I say in the video just for good measure as some people may have trouble experiencing the video for whatever reason. However, I am additionally adding text to show that text can allow me to go deeper with hyperlinks. For instance I can suggest a video on how to create videos. Point out that it is possible to embed a google map into a blog post in case anyone wants to reflect on travel. I can mention a tool that I use for hosting sound files. Text and hyperlinking give the option to give another layer of context to my writing.

I hope everyone enjoys the prompt. Have fun with it and if you are having any trouble creating something let me know.