Saturday, August 23, 2008

Final blogging workshop

On Thursday Lyn and I ran our final blogging workshop - here is information about the first workshop and the second workshop. I have really enjoyed the workshops and am thrilled that people came to all three nights, and now have their blogs up and running. I am grateful to all the participants for showing such enthusiasm, as well as friendliness and support to each other, which I believe made the sessions so successful.

  • Be able to embed multi media into blog posts
  • Be able to add widgets to blog
What we achieved
  • Revisited how to make links to other web sites and posts within own blog
  • Thought about the principles of blog design and learned how to use the blog dashboard - have an 'about page', keep the blog simple and uncluttered, give instructions on how people can find their way around your blog, make comments and use tools such as RSS
  • Learned how to embed video into blog posts.
Lyn and I had planned on revisiting the participants' personal aims for the workshops with them, but we ran out of time. However, since then I have looked at the aims which generally were to learn about blogging, so I know we achieved that aim. The only aim of one participant we did not address was how to link a blog to Delicious, and that was a time issue.

The written feedback for the workshops was very positive and can be found here.

Possibly changes for the future
I felt the final evening went very well and I really enjoyed myself. I think that was partly because everyone was starting to get a feel for how things work and we were concentrating on the technical 'how to' tasks. The week before, we talked a lot more about concepts and I don't know if that was quite as interesting for participants - they were still focusing on the blog technology. I am wondering now if we would have been better off concentrating on setting up the blogs in the first two weeks, and then in the third week looking at commenting and following blogs in a reader.

Here are another few thoughts about potential changes for future workshops:
  • Have structured online resources as well as paper workbook. This will support the presentations, as well as participants who prefer working with digital resources as opposed to paper ones. Work has already been started in Wikieducator, and there is a similar resource available via the Online Information Literacy Project.
  • I think the time (2 hours x 3) is about right for an introductory course. I do see a need for an advanced session or two to look at how you can collect blog statistics and what you do with them, set up Feedburner and play with more advanced video and audio blogging tools such as Seesmic and VoiceThread. However, people can always work their way through the 31 Day Blog and Comment Challenges to learn about developing their blog further.
  • Mustn't forget there are other blogging platforms available such as Typepad and Edublogs.
  • Ask participants to set up a blog account before they start the workshops. But at the same time, be mindful that some people may not have the skills to do this, so may need to be supported to do it at the workshop
  • Set up a buddy system? - partner a computer newbie with a person who has more advanced computer skills. Whilst I acknowledge the value of doing, I am not 100% sold on the idea especially if it means that the more experienced person does not get time to do her/his own thing. Having said that, I must acknowledge that we had one facilitator to about five people. In a bigger class with a higher student/facilitator ratio, a buddy system would probably be essential.
Ongoing support
The challenge now for the participants will be to keep going, and I am looking forward to seeing how their bogs develop and if they build themselves into a blogging community. I think it will be important to provide ongoing support and resources for a little while longer by the group email and via participants' blogs. When I was a newbie blogger, it meant a lot to me to have people like Sue Waters, Michele Martin and Leigh Blackall mentor me, so this is an opportunity for me to 'pay it forward'.

If you have run similar face-to-face workshops, what would you say are the key issues to consider?


infomidwife said...

Sarah, this sounds like it was a great workshop series I wish I lived in NZ for it - I like the way you incorporated your reflection of the workshops, leading by example.
I stll do not know how you put the blue link in your blog - that then takes you to the material - I tried to follow what you said in your CEO's blog, but I must be a slow learner, it did not work for me.

Sarah Stewart said...

Not 100% per cent sure what you mean, infomidwife. Was it that the link didn't work, or you don't know how to link in a comment? I checked out the link itself, and it seems to be working alright now. I will email you the information about how to make a link in a comment.

Sarah Stewart said...

I should have added to my reflections that I think it is really important to be flexible with your schedule because classes will travel at different paces. I did not get through half my material, but that is alright because I'll be able to make it into an advanced class if required.

Carolyn said...

I think Pauline is talking about hyperlinks here Sarah.
It looks like this went really well. Good on you putting the feedback in Archives, what a good idea. Transparency plus !!

Carolyn said...

A links in comments, now I still have not managed to do that I know you told me how ages ago and I'm sure it is easy but I guess I forgot.
Silly me!

Sarah Stewart said...

Yes, I emailed infomidwife the info she needed, so hopefully it works.

As for feedback, don't know if I would have been so keen if it had been bad!

Sarah Stewart said...

I'll send you the info too, Carolyn