In-Class Assignments

9/8: (1) Welcome and syllabus review. (2) Create WordPress usernames and write an introductory “About Me” post about 250-300 words with one image and one hyperlink. (3) Comment on three of your classmates’ “About Me” posts.

9/15: (1) Lee Ann Dmochowski (Assistant Director for Digital Communications at Undergraduate Admissions) speaks to class about RU Admissions blog. (2) Jess and Darlene present their blog posts – discuss reading. (3) Crash course in blogging: blogging dictionary and features of blogs (4) Share your personal blog ideas in small groups, discuss pros and cons of each blog topic then share ideas with me (5) Create personal blog: edit theme and write “About Me” post, share URLs with me.

9/22: (1) Seyvona and Hector present their blog posts – discuss reading. (2) Discuss final paper (3) Search for other blogs similar to your own using Google Blog Search and Blog Lovin’. Choose three blogs. On the course blog, write a 500 word post about how you will distinguish your blog from other similar blogs. Use specific examples and refer to the three blogs you chose. Categorize in “In-Class Assignments”. (4) Sign up for RSS reader account, either The Old Reader or Blog Lovin’. Add your classmates’ blogs and five blogs you’d like to follow. (5) Review advantages and disadvantages of two major blogging platforms. (6) Check out some notable big-name brands that use WordPress. (7) Group brainstorm: How can a person adjust his/her level of blogging based on his/her experience with technology? (8) Watch video about Creative Commons, learn about the types of licenses, and understand how to search the CC. (9) Return to posts you’ve written (either on your personal blog or the course blog) and add media from the Creative Commons/provide proper attribution.

9/29: (1) Jeremy and Juliana present their blog posts – discuss reading. (2) Discuss annotated bibliographies and how you’ll be using them for the rest of the semester. (3) Discuss how we can use editorial calendars and read “Steal This Editorial Calendar“. Make an editorial calendar that will take you through the rest of the semester. (4) Adding additional types of multimedia to your blog: audio. Using Audacity, interview a classmate about a topic related to your personal blog, upload to SoundCloud, and post the audio to your blog, with a post you’ve already written. (5) Read excerpts from paper “Relationships Between Images and Text,” work in small groups to explain relationships.

10/6: (1) REMINDER: Put posts in the right category or I won’t look at them – “Thesis Statements” for thesis statements and “Annotated Bibs” from annotated bibs, also put the number of the Annotated Bib in the post titled (i.e. the first one should be Annotated Bib #1) (2) Gab and Dan present their posts – discuss reading. (3) View paintings by Lauren DiCioccio. In small groups, discuss her paintings and brainstorm answers to the following question: what can they teach us about blogging? (4) Read three posts about one specific topic (i.e. a recent current event, a recipe for brownies, or a new fashion trend) and think about how each blogger handled the topic differently. On the course blog, write a post about the three posts and examine how they were different in terms of content, tone, layout, length, popularity, response, etc.) (5) Together read pgs. 68-74 of Ellen Lupton’s Thinking with TypeIn this passage, Lupton mentions the idea of linearity: “All such devices are attacks on linearity, providing means of entrance and escape from the one-way stream of discourse. Whereas talking flows in a single direction, writing occupies space as well as time…” [p. 68]. Tools like the index, appendix, abstract, footnote, and table of contents help move the reader away from linearity. Discussion: what do you think Lupton means by “linearity,” and do you think the blog is a linear form? Why or why not? (6) Check out Font Squirrel and Da Font – if you could choose any font(s) to use on your blog, what would they be and why? (9) In Microsoft Word using Microsoft Word, write a page-long (double-spaced) short story that begins “Once upon a time…,” (10) Share this story with a partner. For your partner’s fairy tale from class, adjust the fonts throughout the Microsoft Word document to match the tone and mood.

10/13: (1) Rebecca and Brooke present their posts. (2) Discuss “The Rise of Crowdsourcing”. Then, using access to your social networks, crowdsource assistance with your final paper for this class. For example, ask your friends/followers a specific question related to your topic. For example, if you are writing an essay on Internet privacy, you could ask your followers: “Has your privacy ever been violated online?” “Do you think Internet users should use their real names? Why or why not?” (3) Read selection from Uncreative Writing by Kenneth Goldsmith. In a post on the course blog, please answer the following: What can we take from Goldsmith’s article and apply to blogging? Should this idea of “nude media” change our blogging habits in any way? (4) Review “Qualities of Good Writing” handout. In small groups, look at the top 15 most popular blog. As a group, choose one blog and analyze the writing using the questions and points on the handout. Present to class. (5) Think of a blog you enjoy reading. Now do the same exercise as (4) but for that particular blog and be prepared to discuss. (6) Read “World’s Best Headlines: BBC News” (7) Headline writing practice exercise. (8) Visit your personal blog and the course blog and rewrite any titles or headings you think you could improved. (9) Group exercise: Create a concept for a news/magazine blog (think Gawker, Huffington Post). You don’t need a blog name or an audience or content, but you should create the layout/look of the blog. You may even want to make a sketch of the homepage on a sheet of paper. What type of blog would be so visually enticing and easy to read that you’d want to visit every day? (10) Write your name on a strip of paper. I’ll give your name to someone else in the class. That person will be responsible for analyzing the writing on your blog. See HW for the rest of the assignment.

10/20: (1) Rocky and Krupal present their posts. (2) Discuss “Life as Instant Replay…” (3) Read “Using Categories and Tags on WordPress to Create a Great Reading Experience” and “Best Practices for Using Tags in WordPress” (4) Let’s look at our Tag Cloud (also discuss using Widgets) Which tags should be added or better represented on our blog? In a group, make a list of 10 general tags you think our blog could benefit from. Together, we’ll make a master list. (5) Return to any old posts on the course blog and see if you can add any of these tags to your posts, where they are relevant. (6) Add a “tag cloud” to your site if you don’t already have one. Look at the tags that are represented there and think of 10 new tags that you don’t have on your site. Add them to your blog posts. Also, think about how you’ve been using categories. Are all the posts in at least one category? Do your categories reflect what you want readers to see on your site? (7) Read Overview of Blog Archives and look at how you’ve currently configured your archives. Is it working for your blog? (8) Look at something you’ve already written on your blog – how can you make that a new idea? Start drafting a post on your personal blog that recycles an old idea. This will be one of your personal blog posts for next week. Somewhere on the post, please state that the post is in response to this exercise. (9) Read “How to Blog for the Long Term…” and comment on three classmates’ blogs in a way that will motivate them to continue blogging. (10) Assess where you are with your personal blog at this point of the semester. Visit Letter to a Future Me and write yourself a letter that you will set for yourself to receive on December 1. The letter should describe your current challenges with your blog and imagine where you hope to be with your blog by the beginning of December. Also, think about whether you plan to continue this blog beyond this semester and what you can write to yourself to keep you motivated.

10/27: (1) Valeriya and Justin present their posts. (2) Discuss guest blogging and collaborative blogging – for HW you will be randomly assigned a partner, and you will have to write a guest post on his/her blog. For some of you, writing a guest post on the blog you’re assigned will be a stretch, but you and your partner will have to work together to decide what type of guest post will work the best. (3) Quietly read the posts on the RU Admissions blog. In small groups, brainstorm ways the RU Admissions blog could be improved and/or changed. On the course blog with your group, write a one short (500 word) critique of the RU Admissions blog – don’t be afraid of being honest. Include possible ideas for changing it. (4) In your own words, what is social media? Is a blog a form of social media? (5) What are your favorite social media outlets? Review sections from “Complete Guide to Social Media” (6) Check out “A Scrapbook on the Web Catches Fire” (7) Look at “8 Businesses That Nail Social Media Brand Consistency” (8) Think about some businesses or brands that you admire. Look at their social media presence. Present one to the class and explain how the brand is effective or ineffective with its social media strategy. (9) In a small group, think of a start-up business. As a group decide the following things: what product(s) or service(s) will you sell? What will be your goals for social media, and which social media channels will you most utilize? Together, write a course blog post that summarizes your thoughts/ideas.

11/3: (1) Carmen and Erin present their posts. (2) Discuss Bleacher Report article – how is quality of writing affected by need to attract clicks? (3) Present start-up social media plans from previous class. (4) Check out some of the social media policies at various companies and organizations. (5) With your group, think of a social media policy for employees of the company you created. Brainstorm a list (no need to post). (6) Present guest blog posts that you did with your partners. (7) Discuss: what’s the difference between a journalist and a blogger? And what happens in communities that aren’t represented by a news outlet? (8) Check out examples of hyperlocal blogs (9) In a small group, think of a community that might be underrepresented by traditional media. Who lives there? How many people live there? What is the community like? Design a hyperlocal blog for this community and write about what it would be like on the course blog.

11/10: (1) Ashley and Jade present their blog posts, discuss readings from HW (2) What are blogging networks, and what are the advantages/disadvantages of joining a blogging network? (3) Look at examples of blogging networks: POPSUGAR Select, NOWMANIFEST, Lucky Style Collective, DETAILS Network, BRASH. (4) On the course blog, answer the following questions in a post: Would you consider joining a blogging network? If you could imagine a network of blogs where your blog/voice might fit in, what would it be like? And how would the bloggers within that network support one another? (5) Discuss live blogging and look at examples of live blogs. (6) Discuss: How might the existence of live blogging change your perception of something you’re passionate about? For example, if you’re really interested in music, how might live blogs of music performances or music award shows impact you? What are the positives, and what are the negatives? (7) In a post on the course blog (working in a small group), please answer the following questions: 1. Do you think bloggers should disclose when they receive free products from companies? 2. Do you think bloggers should be held accountable for fact-checking the same way that journalists do? 3. Find an example of a blogger who receives free goods/services (could be a fashion, food, entertainment blogger, etc.) – how does this person handle disclosure of information? (8) Read “The FTC’s Revised Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking” (9) Read “Fact-checking at The New Yorker” – what about this could we apply to blogging?

11/17: (1) Together read “Your Blog or Mine?” (2) Rosen describes the “peculiar anxiety of being falsely implicated in someone else’s Internet exhibitionism.” “In the age of blogs,” Rosen argues, “all citizens, no matter how obscure, will have to adjust their behavior to the possibility that someone may be writing about them.” Do you agree with Rosen? Why or why not? (3) Discuss “Anonymous Blogging 101” (4) Anonymous blogging: forms and types (5) Read “An Anonymous Blogger Tells All” (6) In a post on the course blog, please answer the following questions: When a blogger remains anonymous, how, if at all, might the anonymity affect your reading of the blog? If it wouldn’t affect your reading, why? (7) Read “Texas May Compel Google to Give Up Blogger” and “Are Anonymous Bloggers Protected by First Amendment?” (8) Class debate. The result. (9) Read “Cancer Survivors Find Blogging Improves Quality of Life” and “The Dark Side of Blogging” (10) In small groups, brainstorm what might be some positive nontraditional uses for blogging? What might be some pitfalls that aren’t typically covered? In your small group, write one post that imagines a nontraditional use for a blog. What would the blog look like? Who would write for it? Who would read it?

11/24: (1) Instructor evaluations (2) Guidelines for final presentations (3) Read “Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest” and “Blogging Pitfalls: How Not to Abandon Your Blog” (4) Now that you’ve read about patterns of blog abandonment, personal experiences of people who have abandoned blogs, and tips for not abandoning blogs, what – in your opinion – is the main reason that a blogger might abandon his or her blog? Knowing yourself and your blogging habits, what could you do personally to prevent blogging burnout? What would you say to a friend who has a great blog but hasn’t updated it in a while? (5) In a small group, create a Tipsheet to Prevent Blogging Burnout (6) Review monetization and methods for monetizing a blog. (7) On the course blog, answer the following question: If you could choose one or more than one way to monetize your personal blog, what would you choose? What would work best for you as a blogger? (8) Dive into SEO “How Search Engines Operate” and “The Blogger’s Guide to SEO” (9) Keywords: “Keyword Research” and “SEMRush” to see keyword positioning (10) Make a list of 10 keywords you think you should target with your blog. Now, rework three blog posts on your personal blog to include some of these keywords.

12/2: (1) Final presentations (2) In small groups, please address the following and post on course blog: You are a fairly new employee at a start-up company in an industry you’d like to pursue when you graduate college (the company doesn’t have to be technology or blogging related). However, the company doesn’t have a blog or a social media presence, and you remember from your college blogging class that a blog can really help a company gain exposure and create relationships with both potential and current customers. You would really like the president of the company to notice you, your talent, and your initiative. What would be the proposal that you would write to the company’s president? (3) Present the results. 

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