Assignment #6: Make a Map

October 4, 2018

This assignment builds on what we learned about Google Maps in last week’s class. You’re going to apply that to your personal blog by writing a post that incorporates a map of your own creations. That means the post needs to incorporate a “where” component in some meaningful way: Locations of key events, places to find a thing, cities where a performer has played, and so on.

For the assignment, you will:

  • Write a post for your personal blog with a clear location component. Your blog post will be graded like a typical post (5 pts) and counts for this week’s post. It should hit all the usual marks for content, links, depth, and overall quality.
  • Create a Google Map that adds to the story in your post in some meaningful way. This will be graded independently of the post (10 pts), but it must be relevant!
  • The map should have a least THREE useful data points (that’s the minimum, so it’s worth the minimum grade). Use the guide on our course blog to make sure it’s set to a useful default view (we probably don’t need to see the whole world), and include useful information in your selection of pins, use of labels, photos, etc.

DUE: This assignment is due whenever you post next week’s personal post, so it must be during normal blogging hours (10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday-Thursday) during the week of October 8-11.


Assignment #2: The About Page

August 22, 2018

Your new blog needs a place for readers to find out what it’s about. You could do this as a first post, but over time, this will get hard to find – nobody likes scrolling, after all. Instead, you’re going to create an About page. Have a look at this read from blogtyrant on what makes a terrific “About Us” page – they include examples, too! With those ideas in mind, get started. There are two parts:

Your about page should include the following:

  • What’s the blog about? Well DUH. But this means you’ll need to know that yourself, and that means spelling out the specifics of what readers can expect. You might add some links to similar blogs (while explaining what will make yours different)
  • Who’s the author? Tell us your background. What are you studying? What are your interests and accomplishments? (note: Readers don’t want to hear about YOU until they’ve heard about your blog!)
  • Where can I find you? You’re cultivating an online presence, so let interested readers know where they can hear more from you. You needn’t use an email if you don’t want, but at the very least put up your Twitter handle.
  • First post: Make it a real, attention-grabbing post, not an introduction (“Here’s my blog!”). You’re only printing this out for now, so include links and multimedia (photos, video, etc.) in brackets [url=…] so we can see where they go. Don’t forget to write a headline!

But how do I MAKE a new page??

It’s easy! In your dashboard:

  1. Pages > Add New
  2. Title: “About” or “About This Blog”
  3. Write some appropriate “about” content (you can update this as your blog grows)
  4. Publish!

What’s due

Create an About page on your blog and post the link in a comment to THIS post. Once it’s up, I’ll add your blog to the blogroll on our course blog.

Due: 11:59 p.m. Sunday, August 26 (must post comment TO THIS POST by this time)


Assignment #1: Developing a Concept

August 15, 2018

For your first assignment, you’re going to think about how to cover some aspect of our new media world. We’ll start this one in today’s class, and you’ll bring the finished product on Wednesday.

Your personal blog must focus on mass and social media coverage of some area of interest. More specific is better – politics, entertainment, sports, etc are all good starting points, but stronger blogs will focus more narrowly. For example, instead of “entertainment,” you might consider “coverage of minority issues in theatre.”

The bulk of each post must be focused on the coverage and conversation about your subject, not be a long list of your personal opinions. In fact, there’s a list of off-limits content lovingly compiled over years of teaching this class:

  • No reviews
  • No diaries
  • No advice
  • No tips
  • No recipes
  • No anything else I say is off-limits!

Whew! Despite that list of forbidden subjects, you’ll find a lot worth writing about. In fact, that’s our first assignment. Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Come up with TEN blog concepts (write these as a bulleted list) that are interesting enough to cover for fifteen weeks (one post a week, including Thanksgiving break!) – we’ll start this in class!
    • Must have a mass media angle
    • Must be more specific than “sports” or “fashion”
  • Choose your TWO best concepts
    • Do they follow the rules?
    • Can they be linked to timely and newsworthy events?
    • Can you find an active online community to connect with?
  • Write FIVE one-sentence story pitches for each (that’s ten total) – Again, bulleted lists are fine, but they must be complete sentences explaining why the pitches are relevant and timely.
  • Print TWO COPIES and bring to Monday’s (August 20) class – If it’s not printed at the start of class, it’s late!

Assignment #7: Blog-a-Day Week!

February 17, 2017

After blogging for several weeks, you should have a feel for what works, what doesn’t, and how to plan your attack. So far you’ve been doing sprints, but this week will be a 5K. Beginning on Monday, Feb. 20, you will post something EVERY day to your personal blog for a week (yes, this includes Saturday & Sunday) between regular blogging hours of 10-4. This will not be easy, but you can do it, and at the end you’ll have a newfound respect for those who do this every week.

Some rules and tips:

  • The first rule of Blog-a-Day Week is: We do NOT talk about Blog-a-Day Week! This means no posting about how hard it is to post every day, or other such metacommentary.
  • Likewise, no posting about how you don’t know what to post. Use the skills from previous challenges, ideas from your blogroll, synthesis posts, comments from other students … ANYTHING that leads to a substantive post!
  • As always, good posts will have rich content (links, videos, images, maps, etc.) and be connective. Now might be the time to check out that “Add Poll” button up at the top of your New Post window.
  • Scoring (10 pts total): Your Monday (Feb. 20) and Thursday (Feb. 23) posts count for your required weekly posts (5 pts each) and are NOT part of the assignment. The remaining five posts are worth 2 pts each. Same-day posts receive NO credit, so make sure they’re up on time!

DUE: Every day from Monday, February 20 – Sunday, February 26 (seven posts in all)

So that’s it. Daunting, but I promise you’ll survive and learn some new skills. THIS is what a full-time blogger does. I strongly recommend writing a few posts in advance to keep from going insane. You might also want to check out the National Blog Posting Month website for advice and support – you can even sign up to win prizes.


Assignment #6: Storify

February 13, 2017

In last week’s scavenger hunt, we used Twitter to report. Today, we’ll use another app, Storify, to condense that content into something that can accompany a news story or serve as a stand-alone narrative.

The Assignment

Storify your scavenger hunt with the following:

  • An introduction
  • Informative text throughout (so it’s not just 10 tweets with no connective tissue)
  • All your team’s Tweets
  • Your top three favorite Tweets from classmates
  • Don’t just add all this content and think you’re done! You must also include a narrative (text) about the experience. Make it interesting, and make it worth reading.

Due: 10a Wednesday, February 15. To receive full credit, you must publicize with the #WVUblogJ tag and post a link to your storify in a comment to this assignment post.

The How-To

Getting Started

  1. Go to Storify.com and log in with your Twitter handle
  2. Browse through the stories there to get a feel for what’s possible
  3. Click the “Create Story” button at the top right of the screen and create a Storify page (choose Public Story) of your team’s scavenger hunt – each member creates one.
  4. This must be curated – not just a list of tweets – so include explanatory written detail, links, maps, and other information that fleshes things out

Adding content

  1. In the left panel, add a title and description for your story in the blanks, then write some intro text in the main frame.
  2. In the right “Media” panel, click the Twitter icon (the little blue bird) and type in “#WVUblogJ”
    • You can search users and keywords too, but start with this for now)
  3. Drag tweets and images from the right panel to where you want them in the left panel
    • You can click “Images” to just display images to use, “Timeline” for tweets a single user sees, and “User” for tweets from that user
  4. You can also include elements from Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram & Google by clicking the relevant tab on the right panel
  5. You can embed links to specific sites as well – just click the little chainlink icon, enter the URL, and drag it to your story (OR highlight the text to link, click the chainlink icon, and paste in the URL)
  6. Add text by mousing over blank areas before or after your content links. A yellow bar will appear. Click on any of these to enter text

Publishing your story

  1. At the top right of the left-hand window is a big, friendly blue “Publish” button – click it
  2. You’ll get a window with a Publicity message that lets you send this to Twitter or Facebook and also inform people you quoted
    • You can change these from their defaults to something better
    • You can skip this and send it later by clicking “Notify” at the top of your story panel
      • This is a great way to publicize what you’re doing to the people who helped you do it!
  3. If your Storify is associated with an actual news story (e.g., something in the DA or WVU News), and you’re embedding the Storify at the end, switch the default link to that of your story
    • NOTE: You can’t embed this code in a WordPress-hosted blog, but you can post to there by clicking “Export” (at the top)
    • To embed: Click “embed” (below the headline of your story) and copy/paste the resultant text to your story (or blog post).

Assignment #4: Talking Back

February 1, 2017

Last week you built and annotated a blogroll to follow in your own blogging pursuits. Developing an online presence isn’t simply about taking what you need, however – you also have to become part of the conversation. This week you’re going to make your voice heard.

Part 1: Start talking! – DUE: All comments made by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 5

You must post at least 10 substantive comments to the blogs in your blogroll (one per blog). Be sure to include your email and blog address when you post, or it won’t count! If a blog doesn’t allow comments, or if yours doesn’t show up, find an alternate blog to comment on. The main thing is that you make 10 comments on 10 separate blogs that are relevant to your own.

To verify your work, you will provide a printout of each comment with a URL to the story and turn it in at next Monday’s class (Feb. 6). To save on paper, you can also take screenshots and print those.

Note: A substantive comment goes beyond saying “Great ideas” or other spammer-speak to build on and extend the conversation. Run with their ideas! This brings us to part 2 …

Part 2: Synthesis post – POST ON: 10 a.m. Wednesday, February 8 (note that this must go up ON Wednesday for full credit)

Since the blogs in your blogroll are all aimed at your focus, you should be able to synthesize several of the ideas they present into something new that takes their ideas further. For this assignment, you need to identify an ISSUE that’s currently being discussed in your chosen blog community. You will construct a blog post that brings together posts on the subject from at least three members of your blogroll AND adds your own voice to that discussion.

Post a link to your post (not your main blog page) with a one-sentence description to the comment section of this assignment by the due date.

Wondering how to get started? Here are some ideas:

  • How is the issue being covered in the news? What are other bloggers saying?
  • Do you agree with these other perspectives? Disagree?
  • How can you fit the different voices you’re hearing (news, supporters, opponents) together to say something NEW about the issue?

Note: Although some summarization will be necessary, that’s NOT the point of this assignment. Instead, you must build an original discussion or argument upon these others’ ideas. Be sure to link as needed in order to give credit where it is due.

(yes, this counts as one of your two weekly posts)


Group Blog Teams (fall 2016)

October 3, 2016

Here they are, your group blog teams for fall 2016! I went through your existing blogs and the comments you left on last week’s assignment to sort you by complementary interests, styles, and so on. The more detail you provided, the better a fit I was likely to find. Regardless, you’re in this boat together now, so get to know each other!

Group 1

  • Carly
  • Kameron
  • Brittany
  • Sasha

Group 2

  • Carolina
  • Jay
  • Michala
  • Lydia

Group 3

  • Bobby
  • Ryan
  • Jaz
  • Alexa

Group 4

  • Jordan
  • Andrew
  • Clarissa
  • Sarah

In today’s class, you’ll be meeting to work out the initial details of whatever it is you’ll be doing for the final five weeks of the semester. Next Monday, Oct. 10, your group will present its concept to the class along with several specific story pitches. As a group, you will print and submit the following as a (stapled) six-page packet:

  • Page 1: The title of your blog and a detailed description
  • Pages 2-5: One page from each member with ten one-sentence story pitches. These must be complete sentences that underline why we should care and suggest potential sources.
  • Page 6: A tentative posting schedule (Monday-Thursday) for the final five weeks of the semester.

All this material can be changed, but you must have it in hand at the START of Monday’s class (or the group will receive a deduction). NOTE: Don’t create an actual blog on WordPress yet – that comes later.