Flogging starts tonight

My ten weeks of teaching KM in Northwestern's Learning and Organizational Change program starts tonight.  As I mentioned previously, I am going to introduce a quarter-long project where the students will read blogs and create their own.  On Jim McGee's suggestion, they will start by reading a small set of blogs for a couple weeks and then set up their own for the remainder of the time.  Thanks everyone for your suggestions and thoughts about this project.

What am I expecting out of this project?  At the core, I want the students to have a solid understanding of what blogs are and their possibility for individual knowledge workers and for the larger connection to knowledge sharing and community building.  I don't expect all of the students to continue blogging once the class concludes, but then I would be disappointed if a few of them didn't keep going.

"Flogging" is Jim's term for "forced blogging" in a classroom setting like this.  I hope I don't leave any welts. 

Below the fold, I have some details of the setup and sequence of activities.

I am anticipating that the students are not regular readers, or that they do not use news aggregators.  We'll talk about aggregators in the first weeks, but to start I will recommend either Bloglines or Google Reader as a means of starting to read multiple blogs on a regular basis. 

They will start with a small set of blogs (OPML) and the discussion over the weeks will talk about finding other material to read from bloggers, news sources, search feeds, tag feeds and the like.  If you are one of these bloggers, feel free to say "hello" to the students.

Since we only have three weeks, they will be setting up their own blogs under a Wordpress MU installation at Northwestern.  The blogs will be open to the public, so you will be able to see them, if you are curious.  The nice thing is that the setup is blindingly easy: name the blog and come up with a directory name.  From there, it's up to the owner to tweak the design or add widgets.  Most of that I will leave up to the students.  I'm interested in the writing and reading aspects.

I'm asking the students to blog at least three times a week.  We'll talk about styles, and I'll provide a list of topics if they cannot come up with their own.  Most of the suggestions will revolve around writing about things they are hearing in class or reading in relation to the class. 

After a few weeks, I'll introduce commenting and trackbacks, for those that haven't done so yet.  They'll be asked to comment on one another's blogs.  And I will ask them to write specifically about what they read outside of the classroom community. 

Towards the end, we will talk about blogs and communities and the link back to knowledge management and knowledge workers. 

And the quarter will wrap up with a reflection paper, asking the students to consider where and how blogs fit into the world that they've been studying.

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