Purpose of the assignment
Blogging is one of the fundamental social media practices–arguably the first widespread form of social media. Blogging is one important way in which people take part in conversations within their area of interest, establish their expertise, and construct an online identity. The blogosphere is a place where communities form, grow, change, and dissolve.
The purpose of this assignment is twofold: first, to ensure that students gain familiarity with blogging as a practice, and second, to offer another venue for discussion of class topics. Students will contribute original posts and comment on classmates’ posts over the course of several weeks.
Students must create create an account at Tumblr, after which they will be added as contributors to our class Tumblr. As for the Twitter assignment, you may use a pseudonym and limited bio information to protect your privacy if you wish, but I must be informed of your ID so I can grade your assignment. If students already have a Tumblr account, they may either use it here or create a new account specifically for this class.
To ensure the blog is updated regularly, students will sign up to post in specific weeks (see the bottom of this page for sign-up links). Each week must have no fewer than 16 and no more than 25 contributors; each student must sign up to post at least four times during the 9 weeks of the assignment.
Posts must be relevant to the subject of social media in some fashion, and consist of at least three paragraphs. While they do not have to relate to that week’s course content, the topic should apply to the class in a clearly evident manner. Each post must contain at least one external link. Follow the tips for effective blogging below, and the resources provided, for more ideas on how to craft good blog posts. Make sure you observe the legal guidelines that apply to blogs. Your contributions will be graded on content, writing, and ability to generate discussion.
In addition to posting, each student must comment on at least two posts each week. Comments should be substantive, “I agree!” or “Good post!” is not a productive comment. Think about contributing to a conversation about the topic of the post, with the author and other commenters. See the tips below for more ideas on how to comment effectively. In addition, students must actively participate in conversation in the comments on their own posts. These comments do not count as part of the two comment assignment, but are a key element of the assignment. You do not have to respond individually to each comment, but you should at least acknowledge all commenters in your responses.
Tips for effective blogging
A blog involves much more than just the content posted. There are three keys to being an effective blogger:
- Writing engaging, thought-provoking, and intelligent posts that encourage others to respond. Each post should have an argument, express a point of view, and indicate an openness to conversation (often by asking a question that invites reader comment).
- Responding to those who comment, to foster dialogue
- Engaging with others in the blogosphere, in their own spaces
How do you persuade people to interact with your blog? This is one of the hardest parts of any social media effort, but there are things you can do to improve the chances of fostering discussion and successfully entering the blogging community.
Make sure your own posts encourage comments by:
- Linking meaningfully. Use link text that tells readers where you are sending them, and/or gives an indication of the content. “This post” is not a meaningful link.
- Identifying people & organizations named. This is both courteous, and can let others know you’re talking about them, which can encourage discussion.
- Expressing an opinion, or at least a strong angle. Give people something to talk about.
- Asking a question. Make it clear that you are open to interaction.
- Writing clearly and correctly
Similarly, your approach to comments (on your own blog and others’) should also focus on encouraging interaction:
- Acknowledge all comments received
- Elaborate on the person’s post or remarks
- Encourage conversation among commenters
- Answer a question, offer suggestions, link to resources
- Respect boundaries and etiquette
The deadline for completing this assignment is class time on Tuesday, November 22 (Thanksgiving week). If you have any questions or difficulties, feel free to visit me during office hours, arrange an appointment, email, or tweet. Also see the helpful tools and guides posted on the Resources page. The blog assignment is worth 10% of your total grade for the class.
To sign up for the blogging calendar, click on the appropriate links below:
Week 6: Social Networking & Social Capital
Week 7: Interacting Visually
Week 8: Technological Convergence
Week 9: Measuring & Monitoring
Week 10: Social Media & the News
Week 11: Social Media & Organizations
Week 12: Social Media & Government
Week 13: Social Media & Activism
Week 14: Socioeconomic Class & the Digital Divide