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Okay, not quite all. I can never remember centripetal and centrifugal, or rather, which is which. I always start by thinking "fugal" means fleeing (as in tempus fugit--I did take Latin for a couple of years), meaning that centrifugal is tending outwards, but then I see "petal" and think the petals of a flower spreading outwards. Ugh. But my "fugal" hunch is the right one. Centripetal tends towards the center; centrifugal towards the edge.

And it's relevant because I wanted to bookmark both Alex's and more recently Clancy's reflections on using blogs for the classroom, albeit in different ways and contexts. Clancy notes,

I wanted the weblog to serve one of my central pedagogical objectives, namely to facilitate a close community ethos in the classroom...Reflecting on the experience, I am even more convinced that it's best to, if at all possible, have one weblog for the whole class rather than individual weblogs.

This is an issue that Steve talks about as well, in his piece for Kairos. More and more, I think that it's important to distinguish between the centripetal and centrifugal modes of blogging, and to understand how each might occupy space in the classroom. I've got a lot more to say on this than time to actually say it, but for the moment:

I'll be doing some of each in my class this spring. Unlike Clancy, I don't feel a strong need to build community in the course--it'll be a small class, made up of people who have been taking courses with each other for at least a semester and in some cases nearly two years. This is not to say that this isn't a valid goal for a course--particularly when the students come in with no knowledge of each other--but it's a goal that is specific to certain courses.

And I suspect that part of the reason why many of us have really gotten into blogging is the centri-mix. Some of my blogroll is made up of people I'd know anyway (grad school buds, fellow Syracusans, etc.), some of it is made up of people I've gotten to know better as a result of blogging, and some of it is a wishlist of people I'd like to know. Point being that community is sometimes a precondition, sometimes an outcome, sometimes a projection. The mix, and the future possibilities inherent in a mix like that, is part of what keeps me interested.

One of the arguments I'd make on behalf of centrifugal blogging is that having students looking outward makes it more likely that they'll continue once the object of a centripetal gaze (the course and their clasmates) is gone, and that's one of my goals as well. For me, that's one of the key differences between blogs and say, journals or email lists: there's a payoff to blogging that continues beyond the boundaries of the course or even the school.

This is not to disagree with Clancy, who does the right thing, I think, in being explicit about her goals and measuring the degree to which blogs helped her meet them. And Steve's article does much the same thing. If you want to accomplish this, then use this kind of application or use it in this fashion. But I'd argue that it's important to bear that conditional in mind, and to understand that different conditions may apply.

I should stop there. That is all, at least for the moment.

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Centripetal-Centrifugal from the chutry experiment on December 23, 2004 2:09 PM

Just a quick bookmark post: Collin has a nice round-up of a discussion of "centripetal" versus "centrifugal" blogging. He notes that Clancy's use of blogging in the classroom emphasizes the goal of creating "a close community ethos in the classroom,"... Read More

That's been my past two days. Yes, I spent December 25 and 26 setting up a syllablog for CCR 611. (Sorry; I'm just not ready to call it a pedablog yet; sounds too much like something that men in trench... Read More


On fug vs. pet, I think of the ol centrifuge in chem class, kept whirring away until we had a calcified nugget. Centripetal is the only thing I remember about studying gravity in HS--the forces that hold us down/in.

Thanks for the mention of my Kairos article, Collin. In the process of thinking about planning for my classes for winter 2005, I'll probably be soon posting to my blog about how I will (and won't) be using blogs next semester. The short of it is that I think I'm going to have a "group blog" as an experiment, something to use instead of a mailing list, and I'll have individual blogs for another class, where students will use their blogs as a space to keep their "research project journal." This second class is a grad class actually, but I can easily imagine something like this working in a fy comp class, too. We'll see...

I'm using individual blogs again in the Spring for the very reason Collin mentions: I really hope some of them continue to develop their blogs beyond the class. If a class meets F2F, some community can be developed there. I also plan to spend class time have students read and respond to each other's blogs (something they probably won't do outside of class). We'll see how it works out.

It's not clear to me yet that blogs can CREATE community in the context of one term of a course, especially an 11-week quarter. In my various experiments over the past year with individual and small group blogs, I would say the community that developed was within the physical classroom, and the blogs became an extension of that for some.

So this next quarter, I will have one blog per class, and use them in ways specifically related to the individual course. In Linguistics, I'll try to use the blog as a knowledge-building resource, asking students to post resources and links they have found germane to our week's topic. And in Poetry, I'll experiment with some wiki-like annotating of specific poems. In Basic Writing, I'm still a little hazy--might use it simply as a venue for publishing pieces students produce along the way. As I've said in other places, we're early in the learning curve of just how these tools will be pedagogical, so I very much endorse Collin's emphasis on the conditional.

Madeline directed me here from my relections on the class blog...totally in line with what I was thinking. I have to agree with you, Collin, that the proportions of fugal/petal mix are highly contextual. Our seminar blog is a great labratory for looking at that, given the size and intimacy of the program. I think I ineed to put "centri-mix" on the wiki....

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This page contains a single entry by cgbrooke published on December 20, 2004 12:19 PM.

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