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1. Hi, everyone! I’m Kevin Gannon--history prof and director of the teaching and learning ctr. at Grand View Univ. in Iowa, US. In my keynote (tweetnote?), I’d like to talk about giving students the opportunity to “own their learning” via WordPress blogging. #PressEdConf19
2. About 5-6 years ago, I started to incorporate blogging and website design/construction into all of my courses. I wanted students to create knowledge and their own spaces in which to present it; to write in a variety of styles and for different audiences… #PressEdConf19
3...and to learn how to navigate/interact in digital spaces and work with digital tools. Particularly in my survey courses, where most students are not HIST majors, this larger skill set seemed like it would translate across a variety of interests/majors #PressEdConf19
4. I use a variety of frameworks across courses. In some, there’s one class blog to which everyone contributes. In others, students create their own sites to curate throughout the term. And in others, students build digital exhibits for their research projects. #PressEdConf19
5. By using WordPress, we’re able to create the types of spaces we want, and customize them to meet our needs. And students can do so even if they don’t have the background or experience in web stuff-WP is easy to learn, and easy for me to support w. them. #PressEdConf19
6. My students & I appreciate the ways we can shape the digital space to reflect research, analysis, conversation. And since WP is such a ubiquitous platform, gaining this experience/proficiency is a nice outcome for students. Digital confidence is a big deal. #PressEdConf19
7. The essential part of this work, though, is that students are *themselves* creating. I don’t like assignments that place too tight of confines on the expression of learning and communication of knowledge/analysis. I want to foster experimentation and play. #PressEdConf19
8. I do create a general structure for blogging, in that students have a specific role (lead author or respondent) each week. But there’s a lot of latitude on what they can write about and where they take their posts. I want to see how they’re engaging History. #PressEdConf19
8.5-Intermission: I just had a former student DM me to say this was one of the most impactful assignments he had that semester.
9. In courses where students do indiv. blogs, I encourage them to select a theme to guide their writing as we move chronologically thru the course. The result is a site that blends exhibit-like qualities with analysis and reflection. This can be really powerful. #PressEdConf19
10. I’ve found that the quality, originality, and excitement level I see in student work on WP projects-blogging or digital exhibits-far surpasses what I used to get w/ traditional essays and research papers. The degree of autonomy students have is key here. #PressEdConf19
11. Writing, both in terms of process and audience(s) is different now than when I was an undergrad. Language, conventions, presentation: all are more complex-and far richer!-in digital spaces. It’s crucial to give students experience in navigating these. #PressEdConf19
12. In addition to gaining this experience, students develop agency and ownership in and of their learning. History becomes something with which they’re in active conversation, not passively receiving. They are creating knowledge-they’re *doing* History! #PressEdConf19
13. If I want my students to see themselves as able to participate in the larger scholarly discourse of my field, I need to give them the opportunity to build those abilities and their confidence. I’ve found this WordPress work an excellent way to do so. #PressEdConf19
14. I continue to assess the process (I wrote about some early results here: thetattooedprof.com/2016/06/05/the…) but the last several years have seen some of the most interesting and engaged student work I’ve seen. #PressEdConf19
15. To conclude, using WordPress for blogging & digital exhibits resonates w/ my larger pedagogy: empower students, help them become knowledge-creators, and give them the space to show what they’ve built in creative, interesting ways. And, of course, to have fun! #PressEdConf19
16. Thanks for hanging out with me, and w/ #PressEdConf19! I’m honored to be part of the proceedings.
I’m happy to follow up with anyone who wants to talk student blogging and such. There’s also a bit of time to answer questions right now, if there are any…hit me up!
#PressEdConf19 Also, thanks to @nlafferty and @pressedconf for inviting me here today!
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