As part of learning how to have a personal learning blog, I was assigned by my Professor, Gideon Burton, to analyze one of my colleague's blogs by a set list of criteria my personal learning blog will be evaluated by.
I was assigned James, my colleague's, blog In the Scheming of Writing Things. His blog records the process he went through analyzing Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath, and his interpretation of that novel in relation to the digital age we live in today. Process As students in Professor Burton's class, our posts are to show the process we went through formulating our product. This is James' strongest point. He very clearly states where he is at in his thinking and shows good cohesion of how he came to that point of thinking. He states what he previously thought, what changed that thought (whether a comment in class, a comment on his latest post, new relevant source he found, new way of thinking, etc.) and where it currently is at. I was very impressed with his documentation of process in that way as it helped me as a reader to not just see where he was at in his process, but why he was there. Some Points of Improvement The focus is very clearly trying to find a good connection between The Grapes of Wrath and it's pertinence to the digital world we live in today. How that connection is made becomes a problem as I felt though there was good process documentation, there wasn't enough assertive "This is what I'm going with and here's my support" -type posts. Most of his blog was documenting his process, not finding and sticking with a product. I'm not saying all posts needed to be the product, that's against what this blog project supports. What I'm suggesting is since there is a point to this project above and beyond musing, it's important to find a thesis early on, and begin sticking to it and making changes within that statement. This, along with not a lot of interlinking back to his previous posts, makes his blog a bit hard to jump into and get cohesion from. There is a main idea, it's just not readily apparent to readers in all his posts. I feel if he had more mass quantity of posts he would've come to his conclusions faster and would've been able to start his more assertive posts instead of general musing. More in terms of outside literature supporting his claims would have given a nice foundation to his claims and more studies which show his claims to be true would have given his readers a sense of "fact" as they read. This links to interactivity, of which I only saw from members of the class. Though he does respond and utilize the comments left on his blog, I felt he needed to get out a bit more and connect with others. Grounded in the Literature Another great strength was his use of primary text. As a reader, I was impressed with him almost always referring to his current thought in relation to the story of his primary text. He always had his primary text in the back of his head, and as such, so did his readers. Using more direct quotation (as he did in his "Choice and Eviction: The Aged and Divisions in New Media" post) would have been a great idea, but I still liked his "sticking to his guns," and being true to his text. SEE What He's Saying? Last but certainly not least, James was really good at use of visual media. Though he didn't ever use videos, his pictures were fantastic for each post, very relevant and enhanced the point he was trying to make. His blog itself is headed by a great picture and the style fits his profile. Adding to the Conversation Overall, I really do like James' blog. It has a good point to make and one which will enhance others' reading of The Grapes of Wrath. The criteria for evaluation is very good; comprehensive and takes into account the literary just as much as the personal. It's a good middle ground from personal informal to scholarly formal. I would suggest adding a "timeliness" criteria. Was your audience able to see your thesis and/or what you're contesting early on in the game? With a "normal" blog, that's not very important. However, since there is a point to this blog, it's important to do lots of exploration early on and save later posts for exploration within your stated subject. There shouldn't be a "crunch time." Other than that, I feel it's a good way to evaluate a blog and the writing of another.