Meet Your Instructional Technologist: David Scozzaro

LMU ITS has a great Instructional Technology department ready to help faculty use technology in teaching. An Instructional Technologist is embedded in each college and school on campus, and you can also find them in the Faculty Innovation Center on Level 3 of the Library. In order to help you get to know this department, we created our new video series, Meet Your Instructional Technologist. For the next few weeks, you’ll meet the helpful people in this department and get to know them a bit better.

First up we have the Manager of Instructional Technology, David Scozzaro.

Blogging in Academia

An Instructional Technologist will be dropping in on the blog every now and then to provide faculty with tips and tricks for using technology for teaching!

David Scozzaro is the manager of Instructional Technology here at LMU, and this week he wrote about the advantages academics can take advantage of by blogging.

There’s an Instructional Technologist embedded in every college and school here at LMU, and they also work together to staff the Faculty Innovation Center on Level 3 of the William H. Hannon Library—they’re always happy to help you integrate technology into your teaching. And now, on with the blog!

blogging-academia

I would like to build upon last week’s blog post from Jeff Schwartz, our new Instructional Technologist in the College of Business Administration. Jeff provided some poignant arguments as to why Academics should blog. Establishing authority, building rapport, creating opportunities and attracting an audience all sound like solid professional goals for any Academic.
At this point, however, it looks like as if academia is not taking advantage of the opportunities that blogging provides of bringing our intellectual and creative endeavors to the the mainstream. Although self-admittedly limited, a study by Pat Thompson, the Director of the Centre for Advanced Studies at the University of Nottingham has shown that we are not blogging for lofty professional goals, but rather, blogging about academia to the rest of us in the Ivory Tower. According to her study, 41% of academic blogs she researched were cultural critiques of life in an academic setting, with another 40% dedicated to the trials and tribulations of conducting research today. Combined with the other topics that emerged in her studied, well over 80% of blogs focused on the daily life of academia. Granted, if she searched more deeply along the lines of discipline, she would have likely found more blogs written by Academics about particular subjects; but asking her to do that would be like asking her to research the whole internet… and without any funds to do it.
So what can we take away from her study? My argument would be better marketing. Showing yourself off as an expert who comes from academia that can connect with practically anybody who has an internet-connected device is key. Balancing status, authority, and humility is always tough, but a worthwhile goal to gain traction. Keeping an open dialogue with commenters is probably the best way to achieve this. With so much information available at our fingertips (thanks Google), it is easy to mesh facts and opinions, even for the best of us. Keep your responses to wild opinions or improper facts civil and ask that your commenters do the same. Ultimately, most of us are looking to make this world a better place, and sometimes we disagree on how that needs to take place. I think we can all agree that being constructive and working together is a much better route to getting there than simply slinging mud.
Another thing to do is start small. Twitter is a great micro-blogging platform. It is a wonderful place to spurn thought, generate conversation, and drive people to deeper discussions on a more formal blogging platform like WordPress or Blogger. One of the toughest things to do when starting up a blog is gain followers. Twitter is a low-cost method for people to start broadening their horizons in 140 characters. With over 600 million users, there is certainly no shortage of potential audience members.
Blogging is about sharing ideas, thoughts, and opinions. If you are looking to publish, this may not be the platform. If you are looking to start generating ideas and writing early drafts for your next great published work, blogging can be a powerful win-win for you and your readers.

To Blog or Not To Blog?

An Instructional Technologist will be dropping in on the blog every now and then to provide faculty with tips and tricks for using technology for teaching!

 Jeff Schwartz is our new Instructional Technologist for the College of Business Administration, and this week he wrote about how faculty members can benefit from using blogs outside of the classroom.

There’s an Instructional Technologist embedded in every college and school here at LMU, and they also work together to staff the Faculty Innovation Center on Level 3 of the William H. Hannon Library—they’re always happy to help you integrate technology into your teaching. And now, on with the blog! 

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To Blog or Not to Blog?
Last week, my colleague Nicholas Mattos, shared a few examples of how blogs are being incorporated into classroom instruction here at LMU. Many instructors are currently using the blog tools within MYLMU Connect to create course blogs, individual blogs, and group blogs as both graded assignments and opportunities for students to collaborate and reflect on their learning.

However, the use of blogs in higher education should not be limited to the classroom. In addition to the resources in MYLMU Connect (Blackboard), blogging tools like WordPress, Tumblr, Weebly, and Google Sites can extend the reach of your writings to audiences beyond the confines of our campus community. Increasingly, blogs are becoming important news resources, journaling tools, and community hubs for people with shared interests, as well as powerful promotional tools for professionals and organizations.

As a professional educator, a blog can be a great showcase for your various academic endeavors, a mechanism for establishing yourself publicly as a subject matter expert, and a marketing device aimed at sharing activities and programs developed by yourself, your college, or the university at large. Furthermore, since you are not limited to using text, you can readily incorporate graphics, links to articles, and video and audio clips, thereby creating a personalized “newspaper” of sorts where you serve as the author, editor, and publisher.
Not convinced? Here are seven excellent reasons that you may wish to consider starting your own blog (adapted from an article in the Huffington Post by Michael B. Fishbein):

  1. Attract an Audience

Blogging enables you to reach the billions of people that use the Internet.

  1. Establish Authority

Having a blog and writing about important topics that are relevant to your audience establishes yourself as an authority in the space.

  1. Build Rapport and Engagement

Blogging can provide your students, clients, or customers an additional opportunity to get acquainted with you, your perspectives, and your work.

  1. Create Opportunities

Blogging can lead to greater exposure in your field, generating opportunities such as speaking engagements or press.

  1. Organize Your Thoughts and Learn

Writing and articulating your thoughts is a great way to internalize something you’ve learned or experienced. Writing also helps you become more familiar with the topic you’re writing about.

  1. Tell Your Story

Blogging enables you to be your own media company. You can tell your story the way you want to tell it without being dependent on others.

  1. Meet New People

The audience you attract through blogging doesn’t have to be limited to the LMU community.

Good luck and happy blogging! Please feel free to reach out to your Instructional Technologist if you’d like additional support in launching your blog.

Using Blogs In Your Teaching

An Instructional Technologist will be dropping in on the blog every now and then to provide faculty with tips and tricks for using technology for teaching!

This week, Nicholas Mattos, Instructional Technologist for the College of Communication and Fine Arts and the School of Film and Television wrote about using blogs in your teaching.

There’s an Instructional Technologist embedded in every college and school here at LMU, and they also work together to staff the Faculty Innovation Center on Level 3 of the William H. Hannon Library—they’re always happy to help you integrate technology into your teaching. And now, on with the blog! 

Blogs can be used to facilitate a variety of assignments, and there are a plethora of platforms available to instructors and students alike on the web. The act of blogging can be both the content and the learning activity in a course, depending on the discipline. In areas like communication studies, marketing, and public relations, blogging has become an important skill for connecting with customers and other stakeholders. In this blog I will discuss how blogs have been used by instructors to engage students at LMU. By providing examples of effective use, I hope to encourage other instructors to consider using blogs in their courses.

The blog tool in MYLMU Connect (Blackboard) allows students to post text, images, video and attachments for other students to view and comment on. There are 3 types of blogs in Blackboard: course blogs include all members of a course, individual blogs are posts by 1 person, but are viewable by all course members, and group blogs are private to the members of a course group. These settings cannot be changed once posts have been made, so you may want to read more about blogs at Blackboard’s help site. Instructors can setup as many blogs as they would like in a course, so these types can be mixed and matched, depending on the type and number of assignments. You could have one blog per assignment, or one for the whole course.

One way that course blogs have been used at LMU is in the Screenwriting Program. In many courses students are required to post their scripts for review and comment by other students. Generally one group of students will be responsible for posting each week, and another for giving notes to a certain number of classmates. The blogs allow students to upload and access the PDF scripts, as well as leave comments. The instructor can then synthesize these comments in class, or when meeting with students 1-1 about their projects. This type of blog could easily be adapted to most any writing assignment, where peer review is often useful.

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Blogging assignments are not limited to writing, and most blogging tools allow for images, videos, and other multimedia elements. Instructors in Studio Arts have experimented with a number of blogging platforms for a virtual sketchbook assignment, over the past few semesters. Drawing and painting students have been asked to keep a digital collection of exercises, assignments, reflections, and images of their works in progress to share with the class. These virtual sketchbooks are sometimes transitioned into more complete e-portfolios, or ways to showcase the artist as a working professional. So far these have been hosted in MYLMU Connect or Google Sites, but may include WordPress, Tumblr, Weebly, etc. in the future.
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These examples are just a few ways that instructors have used blogs in their courses.