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, and let the TA know your Tumblr ID or URL. 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. Email your Tumblr ID to the TA.
You must post at least four times during the assignment period. You may not post (for credit) more than once in a single week, so make sure to budget your time appropriately.
Posts must be relevant to the subject of social media in some fashion, and consist of at least four full paragraphs. They should preferably relate to that week’s course content, but in any case the topic should apply to the class in a clearly evident manner. Each post must contain at least one external link, properly formatted (meaning that the “http://…” should not be visible to blog readers–use appropriate anchor text). 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 originality. Also see the tips and links (including screencasts) available on the relevant Resources page.
Posts intended for class credit should include the MCO435 tag (using the tag box on the right-hand side of the Tumblr editing window).
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. The culture of Tumblr is one of “reblogging,” similar to retweeting on Twitter. To comment on a post, hit the “Reblog” link and add your comment above the snippet of the post you are commenting on (called a “slug”) that appears in the editing window. These reblogs and comments are a key element of the assignment, since social media is best viewed as a conversation.
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 should also focus on encouraging interaction:
- Elaborate on the person’s post or remarks
- Answer a question, offer suggestions, link to resources
- Respect boundaries and etiquette
Blog posts and reblogs/comments should be made by 3 pm Thursday each week during the assignment period (which ends Thursday, April 12). 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.