… in which the reader encounters a reflective author attempting to honestly assess his success or lack thereof, and to plot his engagement levels throughout.
*Ahem* As MST2/3DMC draws to a close, we must now consider how we approached our blog, and how useful our blogs and others were. For mine, I’m always enthusiastic at the beginning of a semester, and this course fired my enthusiasm beyond those base levels. I was champing at the bit to start blogging, and also to get stuck in to the wiki. In the first week or 3, I checked several times a day to see which students had started their blogs, commented on any posts of theirs that were vaguely interesting to me, and fleshed out my blogroll. All was manna and honey.
Then, the wheelnuts became a little loose, and eventually a wheel came off. While most of this was due to external factors (there’s nothing like simultaneously managing a traumatic and ongoing condition affecting your surviving parent and managing a less-so but still traumatic ongoing situation affecting your eldest child to make you feel like a grown-up), some factors within the course were also present.
One was my belatedly noticing a shift in content requirement. While I’ve never blogged before, I enjoy writing, and jeez am I opinionated. Blogs, you would think, are a perfect forum for me, particularly as I’m not overly fussed if I have a tiny readership. I eventually twigged, though, that my posts would be more appropriate to the course if they were decidedly academic in tone … and my enthusiasm wavered.
Another was the lack of engagement from other students. There were few others who commented on other people’s posts, at least while I was actively checking, and this also had an effect on my own engagement. A side note – while I respect the right of others to have an ‘invite-only’ blog, I didn’t bother seeking an invitation to any of them. There were plenty of others to read. None of the locked ones appeared in the first fortnight… perhaps if they got in early I might have subscribed, but as it was I had a full blogroll by the time I saw them. I also very quickly removed all obstacles to accessing my blog – no waiting for moderating of comments, for example. I wonder – did the invite-only blogs have many subscribers?
To the wiki – my participation was far less than I anticipated, but this was mostly due to external factors. I used to be a very active gnome on wikipedia, and I looked forward to dusting off my pedantry and making some contributions to existing articles. Frankly, though, the first articles I tried to tighten up were quite haphazard in structure and syntax … and probably content as well … and I allowed myself to be distracted by some of the harsh and thumping aspects of RealLife rather than wholly fix the articles and move on to others. I don’t think of this as laziness, but objectively, I can see why another might (mistakenly!) reach that conclusion. ;)
In summation: The blogs are a great idea. The wiki was an interesting experiment. The course was excellently structured and delivered (‘tho I think all at LaTrobe await an improved LMS.) Any engagement issues I had were largely unrelated to elements within the course.
postscript – A side benefit for me is that I’ll probably indulge myself by maintaining this blog. I’ve enjoyed the process.