NOTES ON Melinda Baer’s “Using Weblogs in Your Writing Center”

NOTES FROM “Using Weblogs in Your Writing Center,” by Melinda Baer, Northern Illinois University (TheWriting Lab Newsletter, Vol 31, No 2, October 2006) [not online, but PeerCentered refers to it.]

Hmmm, Blogging wasn’t originally conceived as a place for pundits to gather a following: Baer says that Blogger’s founders wanted to find a “user-friendly way to communicate on the progress of their projects and to consolidate useful links in one place” (1).

The fact is that not many of our consultants read the APA manual during their downtime, but if we ask them to respond in a blog post to a question about APA, they might just do that -– read the APA manual at home to make their post before bed. (2)

Baer’s WC requires students to post at least twice a week. They use those posts for meeting fodder. “Most of their posts center on their experiences with clients, specific questions about policies, their appeals for advice on working with a particular client, or on the progress the consultant and a long-standing client are making over time” (3). They also limit contributors to only them “so that the communicate that happens there is truly among us.” (Salt Lake Community College’s blog is a good example of a blog open to all writing center folk – “PeerCentered.”) (3)

I was glad to see Baer pointing out that “You can lead consultants to a blog, but you can’t make them post.” I definitely noticed that with our blog so far. Josh and Judy have both posted at least once, but that’s about it, and no discussions have gotten going.

Baer suggests requiring one or two posts per week (4). I agree. It’s just not working otherwise — either out of shyness (unfamiliarity with the medium) or out of not knowing what to say. But shoving them toward the blog (with specific topics) should remedy both those situations. I bet there’s a lot of momentum needed in collaborative blogs — once it gets going it’ll get going.

She cites a couple books on blogging I want to check into: Rebecca Blood’s The Weblog Handbook: Pracitical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog (2002), and Paul Bausch et al’s We Blog: Publishing Online with Weblogs (2002). [Ordered used copy of Bausch’s via amazon 11-13-06]

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