In-Class Assignments

2/3: (1) Review my “What Is a Blog?” post and leave a thoughtful comment. (2) Learn about RSS readers like The Old Reader, feedly, and Bloglovin. (3) Find three blogs to follow and add them to your RSS reader account. (4) On the course blog, write a 500-word response about one of the blogs you’ve chosen to follow. This response should explain how your chosen blog utilizes the terms and features we discussed last week. (5) Share your possible blog topics in small groups and then with me. (6) Set up your new WordPress blog and write your “About Me/This Blog” page. (7) Follow your classmates’ blogs on WordPress and/or your RSS reader account.

2/10: (1) Follow classmates’ blogs either on WordPress or your RSS reader. (2) Review best practices for commenting. (3) 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. (4) Working in small groups, talk about any doubts/ideas you have about your personal blog. Share ideas to help each other improve your blogs in terms of content/layout/navigation/etc.

2/17: (1) Review advantages and disadvantages of major blogging platforms. (2) Check out some of the best blogs run on WordPress. (3) Group brainstorm: How can a person adjust his/her level of blogging based on his/her experience with technology? (4) Watch video about Creative Commons, learn about the types of licenses, and understand how to search the CC. Read “Bloggers Beware…” (5) 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. (6) 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? (7) Class debate: Should students who create a blog for a class be subject to the same copyright laws as any other blogge

2/24: (1) Listen to guest speaker Lee Ann Dmochowski, Assistant Director for Digital Communications at the Office of University Undergraduate Admissions at Rutgers, speak about the Rutgers Admissions Blog and how we’ll be contributing to it. (2) Discuss how we can use editorial calendars. (3) Read excerpts from paper “Relationships Between Images and Text,” work in small groups to explain relationships. (4) Read selection from Uncreative Writing by Kenneth Goldsmith.

3/3: (1) Course blog post presentations (Jill and Jay) (2) Discuss readings from homework (3) View paintings by Lauren DiCioccio. On the course blog, write a response to DiCioccio paintings: what can they teach us about blogging? (4) Review “Qualities of Good Writing” handout. 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. Present to class. (5) Think of a blog you enjoy reading. Now do the same exercise as (4) but for that particular blog and be prepared to discuss. (6) Read “How People Read on the Web: The Eyetracking Evidence” and “World’s Best Headlines: BBC News” (7) Headline writing practice exercise. (8) Visit your personal blog and the course blog and rewrite any titles or headings you think you could improved. (9) 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) 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.

3/10: (1) Discuss McLuhan article and comment on my post on the course blog (2) Quietly read the posts on the RU Admissions Course blog (3) In small groups, brainstorm ways the RU Admissions Course blog could be improved and/or changed. On the course blog, write a one short (500 word) critique of the Rutgers Admissions blog – don’t be afraid of being honest. Include possible ideas for changing it. (4) Present group blog concepts from last class (5) Together, let’s read excerpt from Thinking with Type. In this passage, 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? (6) Check out “Beautiful and Creative Uses of Typography in Print Ads” (7) Check out “20 Websites with Beautiful Typography” (8) 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? (9) In Microsoft Word using Microsoft Word, write a page-long (double-spaced) short story that begins “Once upon a time…,” share this story with a partner, and see HW for remainder of this assignment.

3/24: (1) Turn in fairy tale assignment. (2) Course blog post presentations (Ricky and Mahd) (3) Continue RU Admissions blog critique from last class and present ideas/suggestions. (4) Read “Why Tagging and Categorizing Are Essential Content Strategies” (5) Read “Tag, You’re It!” (6) 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. (7) 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. (8) 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? (9) Read “Overview of Blog Archives” and look at how you’ve currently configured your archives. Is it working for your blog? (10) 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. (11) 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.

3/31: (1) Course blog post presentations (Carla and Mike) and discussion (2) Post on course blog: in your own words, what is social media? Is a blog a form of social media? (3) What are your favorite social media? Review sections from “Complete Guide to Social Media” (4) Check out “A Scrapbook on the Web Catches Fire” (5) Look at “8 Businesses That Nail Social Media Brand Consistency” (6) 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. (7) 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. (8) Check out some of the social media policies at various companies and organizations. (9) In a group, create a social media policy for employees of the company you created. Include this policy in your group blog post.

4/7: (1) Course blog post presentations from Pat and Angelina (2) For the same company you created last week, 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. (3) Each group will present its completed course blog post, including content from last week and this week. (4) What are blogging networks, and what are the advantages/disadvantages of joining a blogging network? (5) Look at examples of blogging networks: POPSUGAR Select, NOWMANIFEST, Lucky Style Collective, DETAILS Network, BRASH. (6) On the course blog, answer the following questions in a post: Would you consider joining a blogging network? If you could imagine a network of blogs where your blog/voice might fit in, what would it be like? And how would the bloggers within that network support one another? (7) Meet with your partner for guest-posting exercise. (8) Read WordPress’ “Group Blogging Guide” and check out some cool collaborative blogs: “Nerdophiles,” “Spilled Milk“; “Black Box Warnings“; “Brevity“; and “Just Me and My Dad

4/14: (1) Course blog post presentations from Crysta, Nicole, and Shadman. (2) Discuss your homework responses. (3) Present guest blog posts that you did with your partners. (4) Discuss live blogging and look at examples of live blogs: Samsung Galaxy S5, LAist 2014 Oscar Blog, Aljazeera’s Ukraine Live Blog, Masters Golf Tournament, 2014 Grammys Live BlogReddit Embraces New Live Reporting Feature. (5) Course 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? (6) In small groups, 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? (7) Read “The FTC’s Revised Endosement Guides: What People Are Asking” (8) Discuss: what’s the difference between a journalist and a blogger? And what happens in communities that aren’t represented by a news outlet? (9) Check out “10 Cool Hyperlocal Blogs” (10) 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.

4/21 (1) Instructor evaluations (2) Present hyperlocal blog concepts from last class. (3) For HW, you should have read “Your Blog Or Mine.” 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? (4) 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? (5) Anonymous blogging: forms and types (6) Read “An Anonymous Blogger Tells All” (7) Read “Texas High Court…” and “Are Anonymous Bloggers Protected by First Amendment?” (8) Class debate. Read “Cancer Survivors Find Blogging Improves Quality of Life” and “The Dark Side of Blogging” (9) In small groups, brainstorm what might be some positive nontraditional uses for blogging? What might be some pitfalls that aren’t typically covered? (10) Read “Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest” and “Blogging Pitfalls: How Not to Abandon Your Blog” (11) 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?

4/28: (1) Review monetization and methods for monetizing a blog. (2) On the course blog, answer the following question: If you could choose one or more than one way to monetize your personal blog, what would you choose? What would work best for you as a blogger? (3) Dive into SEO “How Search Engines Operate” and “The Blogger’s Guide to SEO” (4) Keywords: “Keyword Research” and “SEMRush” to see keyword positioning (5) Make a list of 10 keywords you think you should target with your blog. Now, rework three blog posts on your personal blog to include some of these keywords. (6) In small groups, please address the following and post on course blog: 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? (7) Present the results. 

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