Krause, Stephen D. “When Blogging Goes Bad: A Cautionary Tale About Blogs, Emailing Lists, Discussion, and Interaction.” Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy 9.1 September 2004. Web. Accessed 13 October 2013. http://english.ttu.edu/Kairos/9.1/binder.html?praxis/krause/index.html. Also reprinted in Johnson, T.R. (Ed). Teaching Composition: Background Readings.
Third Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008.
Stephen Krause is a professor of English at Eastern Michigan University. Most of his classes and his scholarship focus on the intersection of writing and technology. More information about him, along with more of his academic work, is available at http://stevendkrause.com/ and http://www.emich.edu/english/faculty/facultypages/skrause.php
In this piece, Krause recounts his failure in using blogs in the classroom around 2003-04. In a time when blogging was kind of the new thing, he used blogger.com and Blogspot in an MA class called “Rhetoric and Culture of Cyberspace.” He had students use their blogs as a primary mode of discussion of the texts, but found that the discussion of the texts was lacking compared with his other classes’ use of listservs for discussions.
Krause gives a number of reasons for the failure of his experiment, including: limitations of the software regarding collaborative work; a lack of directions from him as an instructor as to the assignments and discussion themselves; a lack of motivation to blog (he notes that blogging is easy, but a writer must have “generally, a personal reason” to blog); and a general lack of dynamism in blogging technology. He notes that email listservs were far more effective for discussion and blogs are generally “spaces for publishing highly individualistic writing.”
Krause does offer two suggestions for successful use of blogs in the classroom. First, blogging can be useful as an electronic alternative to traditional reading journals. Students posted their own individual thoughts, but were asked to interact with each other via the class listserv. Krause found that this utilized the strengths of both media: individuality in blogs and dynamic discussion through the listserv. The other suggestion is a research blog, not unlike this one.
I thought this was a useful article because it recounts an unsuccessful use of technology in teaching rhetoric and composition. As I prepare to apply for a teaching assistantship for next semester, I am trying to find ways to use technology to get students writing more organically and increase their literacy. It’s useful to know what doesn’t work.
I also thought this was a good piece to highlight for another reason: It’s incredibly dated. First of all, most of the links do not work. Many pages seem to have been taken down, or at the very least, moved, and the author has apparently not done any necessary upkeep (which could be as simple as noting that the links no longer work, or removing the hypertext markup). Second, the essay can also be presented as a blog, with each section appearing in reverse order, as if they were chronological posts. An interesting, if gimmicky, idea, but in execution it just creates a weird and disjointed reading experience (actually, the reading experience was a bit disjointed anyway). Finally, he’s writing about blogging, a technology that is still used but not in the same way it was used 9-10 years ago. It would be interesting to see how Krause might use other technology, such as message boards or social media, to achieve some of the same teaching goals. Ultimately, this article is an artifact of an earlier technological area, and is itself an example of a poor use of technology.