Friday, April 25, 2008

Why a blog is not a planning tool

I thought I should use the blog to think about blogs, so I started this blog. So I could blog, you see.

Since planning how to use a blog in my Reformation course next spring is currently on my mind, I naturally began writing those thoughts out here. For a while (see earlier posts), I thought this would work out well.

Now, I'm not so sure.

Because I'm using other tools as well; specifically, wikis; and most specifically, Google Sites (an unfortuate name: GoogleWiki is both more precise and sounds better). So I set up a wiki for the course and started typing stuff in there as well. I'm already starting to realize that this plethora (yes, I said plethora) of tools is the electronic equivalent of having Post-It® notes everywhere—convenient for making any individual note, but a nightmare to organize.

What goes in the blog?

What goes in the wiki?

Damnedifiknow. But I noticed something right off. I'm trying (see older posts) to puzzle out how to construct actual assignments for my students relating to this Blog Thing. I started sketching my latest ideas in the wiki, then wondered if it should go in the blog instead, and realized it should not.

Why not plan in the blog?

Because a blog is sequential. Yes, I can go back and edit an existing post, but its fundamental nature is to be a sequence of statements. A wiki, otoh, is intended to be edited, revised. If you need or want to look at the revision history, you can, but what's front and center is always the latest version: your polished gem, your best take.

A blog is a river that flows. A wiki is a painting. Or perhaps a communal voice.

Big Conclusion
All of which led me to the Big Conclusion: use the wiki for documents; use the blog for commentary.

"Ooh boy, Skip, what profound insight," the audience sighed sarcastically.

Well, it was news to me. And it trouble the waters of the Blogosphere with this profound insight because I think it may have implications for how I use the two in class. One for the article on the Eucharist (for example), and the other for commentary about the article. The one, to put it another way, for the conclusions of the group, stated as a single voice; and the other to let each student comment along the way to that conclusion, to have a social presence (as I think Roger said), and even to allow room for minority reports.

So, until I arrive at a contrary conclusion, I intend to use these two Google tools in the same way. The wiki for my formal documents (a syllabus, a rubric, etc.) and the blog to chronicle the struggle to produce them.