Last semester, Professor John Morello’s “Communication and Political Campaigns” class did something interesting with UMW Blogs. Rather than thinking of the class blog as a semester long activity for writing and reflecting (which is always good), he used it for one specific assignment. The blog provided a space where students could upload, categorize, and receive feedback on their own recorded “surrogate speeches” that support one of the various candidates for the then upcoming Virginia Primary.
Keeping in line with the small pieces loosely joined philosophy, all the speeches were uploaded to YouTube, and then embedded in a post on the class site. What you have is not so much a blog as it is a broadcasting engine where students can easily post media and receive feedback from the class.
I want to stress the fact that John is not at all seduced by the shininess of the tool or sermons about technology as the future of education, being UMW’s debate coach for many a year he could easily dismantle anything resembling an argument I tried to throw his way. Rather, I think he uses it because it’s straightforward, handles embedded video seamlessly, and provides an easy way for students to aggregate, organize, and comment on videos without completely relying on a decentralized tool like YouTube. UMW Blogs is just the publishing framework it all fits into.