I’ve been a little surprised and, honestly, a little disappointed that so few students have started blogging on the ISA Internship Ning. In January, there were 9 blog posts written by 5 different students—more or less the same students who wrote the 14 blog entries that were posted in December. Without more students blogging, there also aren’t enough people reading and responding to each other’s posts. And although I’ve been reading everyone’s posts, I’ve hesitated to comment on them because I’m really hoping for student-to-student discussions more than teacher-to-student discussions.

So now that we’ve returned from our adventures in Washington, D.C., I thought I would check in with everyone about the blogging option and encourage more people to try it—not only as a way to write their reflections about their internship experiences, but also as a way to share their observations and ideas with each other and to get feedback and comments from one another.

We started with a video introduction to blogs—“how they work and why they matter.” “Blogs in Plain English” is one of the many fun and informative videos from Common Craft that explain new technological tools, such as RSS, wikis, social networking, social bookmarking, online photo sharing, Twitter, podcasting, and so on.

Then we talked about the role of blogging in our lives and in the lives of people we know. For example, I created a blog last year when I was working with pre-service English teachers, and my stepfather recently started blogging as part of his job as a special collections librarian. Students shared examples of friends and relatives who blog about their jobs or their professional areas of expertise, as well as others who just blog for fun about their hobbies or personal interests.

And then there is the phenomenon of “citizen journalism” in which average, everyday citizens—in addition to professional journalists—are making significant contributions to the information stream using blogs, YouTube videos, etc. If you went to the Newseum while we were in DC, you might have seen the “Old School Meets New Media in 2008 Presidential Campaign” exhibit about the role of the blogosphere in the recent election.

Traditional journalism and citizen journalism are clearly converging, as all the major news outlets are encouraging their viewers to contribute comments to their blogs; television news anchors post blog entries in real time and read viewer’s responses on the air. And this past weekend, I happened to see a headline on CNN that read “Blogger Gets the Nod: Obama calls on Huffington Post,” referring to a reporter from The Huffington Post (a web-only newspaper that relies heavily on blogs and user-posted content) being recognized at a presidential press conference for the first time.

Blogging has been integrated into many of the websites and tools we use every day. Have you ever noticed that when you open a new document in the latest version of Microsoft Word, you are asked to choose between “Blank document” and “New blog post”? And when you are searching Google, you can easily narrow your search by selecting “Blogs” from the pull-down menu under “more.”

Certainly, blogs are becoming an increasingly popular way for people to find and share information, opinions, and more with each other—and with the world. In the video "The Machine is Us/ing Us” that we watched last semester, there was a screenshot of this August 2006 article claiming that “There’s a blog born every half second.” And who did Time magazine name as Person of the Year in 2006? You!

(If you want to find out about the current trends in blogging, see the “State of the Blogosphere” report on Technorati.)

So I said to the students, “ . . . here we are in 2009, isn’t it time for you to take the plunge and start blogging? The ISA Internship Ning is the perfect place to get your feet wet, exercise your blogging muscles, and become a member of the exciting ever-growing blogosphere.”

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