Monthly Archives: May 2008

Video: “Wetpaint Goes Social!”

This video demonstrates the latest upgrades to Wetpaint wikis:

Links for 2008-05-30 (

Links for 2008-05-23 (

Links for 2008-05-21 (

Resources for Electronic Portfolios

I’ve listed the following resources on my 4R x T wiki:

ENGL 112 Research Journals (Blogs)

I still think that using blogs as research journals in a freshman-level research/writing class is a good idea.  I probably need to do more to convince my students of the usefulness of keeping a research journal.  For my online ENGL 112 class for Mesa State College, I thought having the students read the section in the textbook about research journals would be sufficient.  I probably should make the assignments more specific, too, and include assignments for reading and commenting on other blogs, both their classmates’ and others’.

A couple of students did have positive comments about using the blogs:

  • “The ‘blog’ site was an excellent tool also, I liked going to my classmates ‘blogs’ and seeing what and how there research was going. I never used a ‘blog’ site before so it was frustrating at first, with time it became easier.”
  • “The blog for instance helped me to organize my thoughts and go back and see some examples of what I previously was thinking of doing so that I could go back and use them.”

Links for 2008-05-19 (

ENGL 112 Bookmark Assignment

For the ENGL 112 class I taught this semester for Mesa State College, I required the students to create and use accounts to keep track of web sites they found during their research.  This assignment was worth 50 out of 1000 points possible for the class (5%). 

Out of the 24 students enrolled in the class, 15 submitted the required research paper.  Those 15 students had the following numbers of bookmarks in their accounts:  2, 3, 6, 18, 18, 19, 27, 27, 28, 28, 30, 31, 38, 56, 83.  The average number of bookmarks is 27.6, and the median is 27.  I awarded two points per bookmark up through 25, 50 points total for 26 through 30 bookmarks, and up to ten extra points for students who had more than 30 bookmarks.

In their final entry in their research journals (blogs), I asked the students to “discuss the usefulness and effectiveness of the internet tools you used in the class: the blog, the bookmarks, and the class wiki.”  From their comments, it was clear that they found the bookmarking service the most useful (I’m not including students’ names or links to their blogs in order to protect their privacy):

  • “The account was invaluable, and it helped keep me organize, and remember where I had found things without having to print off reams of paper. I also liked it because is really simplified the ‘works cited’ process.”
  • “I found that the most useful tool was “delicious”. It made organizing the research paper so much easier. I was able to easily add, research and go back to the useful sites. I found it very useful when I was at the library and needed to look up a site for reference.”
  • “I found the site to be the most helpful research tool, it was a way to organize things and make it easier to keep track of sites when moving from computer to computer. I have even tagged personal sites on my account.”
  • “The bookmarks, saved me, I am horrible at writing things down, and this account let me bookmark the page and also leave notes to myself for each link.”
  • “The bookmarks helped me keep my sources that I had used all in the same place that were easy to use so I never forgot where I had found information. It allowed me to be able to go back to it multiple times, and the notes that you could add in the box also helped me remember what specifically the source had in it before I even clicked on it.”

I plan to write about their comments on the blogs at a later date.

Credible Alternatives to Wikipedia

Wikipedia has its place, but I do not allow students to cite it in an academic paper.  It simply is not a credible source.  However, I do use it myself as a starting point for personal research, particularly on technical or popular topics, and it often has links to more credible sources of information.

There are alternatives to Wikipedia that deserve more attention and participation:

  • Scholarpedia is a “free peer reviewed encyclopedia written by scholars from all around the world.”
  • Digital Universe is “an ever-growing array of commercial-free portals mapping the highest-quality Internet destinations, as recommended by experts recognized in their fields. These experts review public contributions, create context and attest to the reliability, integrity, and accuracy of the portals.”
  • Citizendium is an effort to create “the world’s most trusted encyclopedia and knowledge base” where the “general public and experts collaborate, using their real names.”

Links for 2008-05-15 (