Home > Teaching, The New Media > Teaching Thursday: A New Project

Teaching Thursday: A New Project

This is a sneak preview or some kind of beta release of a new project.  A couple of weeks ago, I began talking with Anne Kelsch, a historian who also runs our Office of Instructional Development here at the University of North Dakota, about taking my Teaching Thursday concept and opening it up to a wider audience.  Of course, I already have colleagues who have found that writing one day a week or so on teaching gives them a change to verbalize ideas, formulate more formal arguments, and share teaching tips with readers from around the interweb.  So I pitched to Anne Kelsch the idea of creating a blog dedicated to “Teaching Thursday” and running it as an official project of the Office of Instructional Development.  And we’re almost there…

The issue now is how do we describe Teaching Thursday to potential readers and, more important still, potential contributors.  Of course, Teaching Thursday is built as a blog on the popular WordPress blogging application.  But, as this blog as discussed since its inception, blogs are different things in different contexts.  A blog could be a personal journal left open for the public to read, or it could be a minute to minute political commentary.  I can also be everything in between.  Blogs can accommodate pictures, podcasts, video, as well as the typical maze of hypertext leading off in all directions.  So, what, exactly, will or can the Teaching Thursday blog look like?  It is appealing to imagine it open to almost any kind of expression that lends insight to teaching, but on the other hand some kind of guidelines often work to frame a project in a way that we can easily communicate to contributors and readers.

I think that we’ll begin our project as part of the long-standing, campus-wide effort to get people to talk more about teaching.  I like the idea of Teaching Thursday being a collection of essays on teaching.  Essays capture a whole range of careful writing ranging from the dreaded essay test to thoughtful reflections focused on particular topics.  It also doesn’t exclude the possibility of video and audio essays or even other creative efforts to designed to expand the discussion about teaching on campus. 

We also want to use the tradition of interactivity to blogs to position Teaching Thursday posts as points of departure for interactive discussions.  While the Office of Instructional Development has regular talks, roundtables, and symposia on campus, they often conflict with our increasingly chaotic lives.  Consequently the audience at these gatherings keeps changing and it is sometimes hard to create a sustained dialogue.  Since a blog, like Teaching Thursday, can be read at one’s leisure, we hope that it will encourage a more sustained dialogue between folks interested in innovative and effective teaching on campus.  I could even imagine conversations playing out in the comments and responses by the authors of provocative or controversial posts.  Who knows, maybe we’ll expand to a Teaching Tuesday as well.  Since blogging is relatively free, the sky’s the limit.

A blog like Teaching Thursday will also work to forge community on campus — and perhaps eventually beyond.  As regular readers become contributors and offer regular comments.  I also think that we’ll maintain a blog roll for contributors who maintain blogs with overlapping interests.  The blogging began as a venue for social networking as bloggers linked to friendly blogs and relied on networks of associates from across the web to keep one another informed on topics of common interest.  Proper social networking sites have refined this model considerably over the last decade, but blogrolls remain (often in conjunction with the clever use of social networking sites) a key way to communicate shared interests in the chaotic and unstructured space of the internet.  So, I hope that Teaching Thursday becomes more than just required reading for folks interested in teaching here at UND (and elsewhere!), but a jumping off point for access to like-minded individuals and resources across the web.

We’ll see.  Right now, we’re still “coming soon…“.  But make a note.

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Categories: Teaching, The New Media
  1. Kostis Kourelis
    February 12, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    The Chronicle of Higher Education has a lot of amusing first-person teaching-experience reports. This might provide some model for some submission guidelines.

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