Lilia over at Mathemagenic writes about how MT (Typepad, actually), is more difficult than we seem to think. There is some irony that the power of weblogs comes with the ease they bring to publishing, and yet their complexity remains a major stumbling point (IMHO) to adoption. I ran into the same difficulty she had in getting students familiar with MT on our school blogserver, and I am eager to avoid difficulties next year when I do this again.

There are two possible solutions to this:

1. Ridiculously easy blog entries by default. Typepad already moves the (potential) hell of installing MT. Although I haven’t used Typepad, I presume there is still a bit of a learning curve in terms of what to put in various form fields, etc. Maybe the best default should be a set-up that allows simplified email posting, or maybe Zempt? The idea here is to make the first experience with blogging an exceptionally easy and satisfying one. From there, they can ramp up, and acquire the jargon, etiquette, history, and the rest over time.

2. A very clear walkthrough. Since I can’t walk through it with my students in person, is there some way to provide the equivalent. Worst-case, this would be something like the articles on (the now defunct) Webmonkey: kind of a chatty “and now we’re gong to…” sort of article, with plenty of screenshots. Or maybe an agent of some sort, a la the much maligned MS Clippy? Or maybe a short video walkthrough with “Jane the new MT user” and “Professor MT” talking and typing their way through an entry.

Maybe both.

Update (2/18): Dr. Adjunct just posted a link to a blog that provides info for the MT beginner.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.


  1. Posted 2/18/2004 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Personally, I’ve found that using a Wiki is a lot more conducive to actually bothering to make entries into my “notebook,” which is what I am using the Wiki set up on my machine for.

    While I like keeping a blog for its value as a record of my thought process (which I really understood the first time I found my own site in the results for a google search), it’s always been difficult for me to find the time to write something structured enough to publish to the Web, as well as bothering to login and go through the whole process.

    While I’m not using my wiki for the sort of group collaboration it is probably really intended for, I’ve found that it works for me, and makes things quicker, while not necessarily easier.

  2. Posted 2/18/2004 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I’ve had similar experiences with students even when trying to get them started in Blogger (a program I don’t really like). I usually try to walk students through setting up a blog and showing them how to do entries, but when it comes to installing comments, many of them still struggle even when I demonstrate how to add them.

    This semester I’ve decided to emphasize blogging less simply because I’m still trying to negotiate that learning curve (the history, etiquette, etc).

  3. Posted 2/18/2004 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Justin: I agree. I’ve started using a wiki for my research notebooks (I used to just keep them in a big document), and so far I’m liking it a lot. One of the nice parts, which has little to do with its wikiness, is the ability to access it anywhere there is net access (I keep them on a server). What needs to happen, in my very humble opinion, is better integration between blogs, email, wikis, IM, and a lot of other stuff so that the transitions are very smooth. I know there are various tools that do this, but they don’t seem to have the same degree of flexibility on the blog side. Maybe it’s just that I have grown very accustomed to MT.

    And yes, they are different things. My blog entries are (at least a bit) more polished than notes to myself. That’s because they often require at least a little context, and that takes extra time.

  4. Posted 2/18/2004 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Chuck: I feel your pain. I polled the students in the class I was guest lecturing this morning, and no more than a quarter of them had even ever _heard_ of a blog, and none kept one (or would admit to keeping one ;). Sometimes, it feels a little like teaching a writing class and having to explain how to use a word processor. (Actually, come to think of it, that would probably be a useful thing to do, given that many cannot do even simple formatting tasks in Word. Hmmm.)

    I’ve taken just the other approach. I taught a class this fall that had a blogging component in it, and it ate up more time than I wanted. Instead of restricting or removing the blogging component, though, I am making it a class _about_ blogging. Now, it won’t *really* be about blogging, but it will look that way. I’m using it as a kind of back door into social issues, teaching CSS, etc. We’ll see how that goes…

  5. Posted 2/18/2004 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I did a longer unit (4-5 weeks) on blogging in my English 1101 class and it worked really well, in my case for teaching argumentative writing, but I decided not to repeat that in the second course in the sequence (1102) because I have around twenty students repeating from last semester and didn’t want to require them to repeat much of the same material.

    Looking back, I think I could have taken some apects of the discussion of blogging a little further and may do that in the fall (if I’m still teaching composition).

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>