In-Class Assignments

9/6: Write an “Introduce Yourself” post on course blog.

9/13: (1) Review best practices for commenting. (2) Find at least three blogs that have a similar focus as the blog you want to create. On the course blog, write a post that briefly describes each of these three blogs (include links) and outlines aspects of them that you both like and dislike. Pay attention to content, layout and design, tone, navigation, frequency of updates, title, overall readability, etc. (3) Write an “About Me” post on your new personal blog.

9/17: (1) Review advantages and disadvantages of major blogging platforms. (2) Check out some of the best blogs run on WordPress. (3) Answer the following question as a post on the course blog: How can a person adjust his/her level of blogging based on his/her experience with technology?

9/20: Find a partner and look at each other’s personal blogs. Exchange advice and constructive criticism and then spend some time improving what you’ve done so far.

9/24: (1) Watch video about Creative Commons, learn about the types of licenses, and understand how to search the CC. (2) 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. (3) Respond to this question on the course blog: Why is it important to use Creative Commons media? How might a blogger take advantage of creative commons as both a user and a creator?

9/27: (1) Read excerpts from paper “Relationships Between Images and Text,” work in small groups to explain relationships.

10/1: (1) Read selection from Uncreative Writing by Kenneth Goldsmith. (2) View paintings by Lauren DiCioccio. (3) On the group blog, write a response to either “Nude Media” or DiCioccio paintings. Perhaps you can find a way to combine the two in one post. (4) Check out Dear Old Love and Six-Word Memoirs. Read “Teaching to the Text Message” by Andy Selsberg, editor of Dear Old Love. Find ways to contribute meaningfully and authentically to the world of the Web. Ideas include writing descriptions to “sell” an item of used clothing on eBay, commenting on a YouTube video or contributing a product review on a site like Amazon. Leave 140-character comments on your classmates’ personal blog posts.

10/4: (1) Review “Qualities of Good Writing” handout. (2) In small groups, look at the top 10 blogs on Technorati. As a group, choose one blog and analyze the writing using the questions and points on the handout. (3) Think of a blog you enjoy reading. Now do the same exercise as (2) but for that particular blog. Write a post on the course blog describing whether or not you think this blog consists of “good” writing and why. (3) 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.

10/8: (1) Read “How People Read on the Web: The Eyetracking Evidence” and “World’s Best Headlines: BBC News” (2) Headline writing practice exercise. (3) Visit your personal blog and the course blog and rewrite any titles or headings you think you could improved. (4) 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?

10/11: (1) Receive peer critique and consider how you can take feedback and apply it to your blog. (2) Course blog post: In Thinking with Type, Ellen 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. What do you think Lupton means by “linearity,” and do you think the blog is a linear form? Why or why not? (3) Check out “Beautiful and Creative Uses of Typography in Print Ads” (4) Check out “20 Websites with Beautiful Typography” (5) 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? (6) In Microsoft Word using Microsoft Word, write a page-long (double-spaced) short story that begins “Once upon a time…” (7) Then, share the story with a partner and have him/her adjust the fonts throughout to match the tone and mood.

10/14: (1) Read “Why Tagging and Categorizing Are Essential Content Strategies” (2) Read “Tag, You’re It!” (3) Let’s look at our “tag cloud.” 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. (4) 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. (5) 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?

10/18: (1) Read “Overview of Blog Archives” and look at how you’ve currently configured your archives. Is it working for your blog? (2) 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. (3) Read “How to Stay Motivated When Your Blog Is Invisible” and comment on three classmates’ blogs in a way that will motivate them to continue blogging. (4) Check out “Best Loved Advertising Taglines” – is there any way we can apply these to our blogging? (5) “How to Be a More Creative Blogger

10/22: (1) Post on course blog: in your own words, what is social media? Is a blog a form of social media? (2) Review sections from “Complete Guide to Social Media” and “A Scrapbook on the Web Catches Fire” (3) Check out survey of effective social media for businesses (4) Look at “8 Businesses That Nail Social Media Brand Consistency” (5) 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. (6) 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.

10/25: (1) Complete group activity from Tuesday. (2) Check out some of the social media policies at various companies and organizations. (3) In a group, create a social media policy for employees of the company you created for Tuesday’s exercise. Include this policy in your group blog post. (4) For the same company, write a job description seeking a Social Media Manager, the person who will be running your company blog and social media campaigns. In this job description you’ll have to explain your company’s mission and also detail what you’re looking for in an ideal candidate. You should also describe the vision you have for this company blog. You may want to look at sample job descriptions online. (5) Each group will present their plan.

10/29: (1) Groups present social media strategies for their start-up companies. (2) Take a look at BlogHer and investigate what it is. Would individual bloggers be better off joining a larger network like BlogHer? How does BlogHer leverage social media? You can watch video with BlogHer cofounder here. Is it possible to leverage social media as an individual blogger? If you could imagine a network of blogs where your blog might fit in, what would it be like? And how would the bloggers within that network support one another? (3) Discuss BlogHer exercise (4) Find a partner to do a guest posting exercise (explanation in class)

11/1: (1) Have a discussion about the BlogHer posts you published on Tuesday. (2) Read “7 Essential Ingredients for a Successful Collaborative Blog” (3) Read “7 Ways to Deliver Better Stories” (3) Check out examples of some cool collaborative WordPress blogs: “Spilled Milk“; “Black Box Warnings“; “Brevity“; and “Just Me and My Dad” (4) What’s a “curator“? (5) Check out the blog “Brainpickings” (6) Can a blogger be a curator? Why or why not? Can you think of any examples to support your argument?

11/5: (1) Discuss live blogging and look at examples of live blogs. (2) Group blog post: 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? (3) Present your guest posts to the class.

11/9: (1) In a post on the course blog, 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? (2) Read “The FTC’s Revised Endosement Guides: What People Are Asking” (3) Read FTC takes on Pay-Per-Post (4) Discuss: what’s the difference between a journalist and a blogger? And what happens in communities that aren’t represented by a news outlet? (5) Check out “10 Cool Hyperlocal Blogs” (6) 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.

11/12: (1) Complete group assignment from Friday and present to class. (2) 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? (3) Anonymous blogging: forms and types (4) Read “An Anonymous Blogger Tells All” (5) Read “Texas High Court…” and “Are Anonymous Bloggers Protected by First Amendment?

11/15: (1) Class debate (2) Read “Your Blog or Mine?” by Jeffrey Rosen (3) Writing in the New York Times Magazine, Jeffrey 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?

11/19: (1) Finish course blog post from Friday and discuss. (2) Read “Cancer Survivors Find Blogging Improves Quality of Life” and “The Dark Side of Blogging” (3) In small groups, brainstorm what might be some positive nontraditional uses for blogging? What might be some pitfalls that aren’t typically covered? (4) Read “Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest” and “Blogging Pitfalls: How Not to Abandon Your Blog” (5) 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?

11/22: (1) Discuss Blog to Book Deal Video (2) Read about taking a blog to a vlog. (3) Respond in a post on the course blog: If your blog could evolve to something off the page (doesn’t necessarily have to be a book or a magazine), what could you see it becoming? (4) Search Engine Optimization: “How Search Engines Operate” and “Keyword Research” (5) Check out and use Google’s Keyword Planner

11/27: (1) Search Engine Optimization: “How Search Engines Operate” and “Keyword Research” (2) Check out and use Google’s Keyword Planner (3) 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? Post this proposal on the group blog.

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