Are Blogs Notebooks?

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We've been having some interesting discussions on how the expand and explain the full capabilities of our Movable Type Platform.

Movable Type is the engine for Blogs at Penn State, but blogs are not it's only capability. With the new system you have easier control over "static" pages which can be connected to your main blog...which means you have more control over your Web space than ever. You can post your photos and videos, write commentary and create resources for yourself (you could have your key links on one page and a static public resume on another)

There's been a lot interesting talk at ETS about how we can encourage students to use the Movable Type platform to document their Penn State life and maybe develop a professional portfolio at the end. Blogs are great for dotting down your "thought du jour", but it could be more than that. Perhaps the most exciting possibility is that this process can "nudge" students into "reflection" (do these thoughts tie together somehow?) and maybe even "exploration" (I talked about concept A...what's the next step?)

But - how can we explain this vision to the Penn State educational community? Blogs and portfolios are two pieces of the puzzle, but there may be more. Is there a common metaphor that everyone can understand?

Well, here's my modest proposal. Maybe we're talking about the "notebook" process. Like real notebooks, Movable Type can be very flexible. Some people use notebooks for diaries, others for short stories and poems, and others may draw in theirs. Some people may have one notebook for everything (all tasks in one place) and others may have several notebooks for different topics (one class, one notebook). At some point, a notebook can be re-edited for a professional portfolio...or you could just share the one you have.

But there are some powerful features in the electronic Movable Type Notebook that aren't in a traditional paper notebook. One is that it's easy to share. If you want your friend to see your class notes - you won't have to worry about your friend losing it or not getting it back to you. Not only that, but I can get to my electronic notebook from any computer

Another is that you can stuff in more media (like a video) than in a paper notebook. It's also easier to incorporate "outside material." If I see a link I like, I can plug it into my blog. With a paper notebook, I would need an extra folder just for handouts...or I have to invest in three hole punch.

And maybe the nicest benefit of all is that I can type instead of write. Anyone who has seen my rapid handwriting knows it's not too easy to read.

So that's it - a blog as a notebook. Will this metaphor make the process easier to grasp? I'm not sure yet - it's just an idea I jotted down.


Cole said:

It is a good metaphor ... I would add that it is easier to organize, search, and edit than a traditional notebook. Categories/tags make organization very simple, while the powerful searching feature lets you find stuff very fast, and editing is a click away.

Now, if we can just get the 75% or so of our student who have mobile computers to bring them to class we have something.

Good thinking, EP!

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