Talk about PHP or Writing?

“To some, a blog is the software and the user’s experience with the software, and because of that they focus on the technology that makes blogs possible. | To others, blogs are experiential in terms of an individual’s relationship to a blog as relationship, whether as an individual or one of a community.” —Talk about PHP or Writing? (Weeblog)

This post advocates thinking about blogs as a rhetorical space rather than a user experience. I agree completely that focusing on software instead of what people are trying to accomplish while using that software is a mistake, but the activity of blogging is very different from the conventional writing our students have been asked to do. You have to spend some time letting students familiarize themselves with their new tools, and set a number of milestones that let students see their progress and gauge the amount of effort they will need to invest in order to keep up.

My own enthusiasm about various forms of cybertext sometimes makes students feel that learning the form is easier than it really is; or, they may feel that simply learning the form (that is, simply getting a web page to “work”) ought to be enough for a good grade. Asking students to learn a new tool, construct something with it, and also to learn how to think critically about the whole process is not something that easily fits into a one-semester course — particularly when similar courses are being taught in more vocational settings on the other side of campus.