Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I'm going to teach a blogging class for Ole!

Ole! was set up as an extension program from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) originally aimed at seniors I think.  OLE! stands for "Opportunities for Lifelong Education."  But there is nothing on their membership material that mentions age, so it's open to anyone I guess.  There are no tests.  People are there because they want to keep learning.  And I've talked to a couple people who are really excited about some of the classes they've taken.

For $150 a year (starts when you join - three sessions) you can become a member and take as many 'classes' as you can fit in your schedule.  I went to a couple of sessions of Cliff Groh's class on Alaska Political Corruption a year or two ago as a guest speaker.  Some of the people in the class were personal friends of people covered so the discussions were pretty interesting.  That led to a session where I showed slides of Thailand.  I had way too many pictures for that one, but the audience was polite.  I shouldn't be teaching, I should be taking classes.

The Spring 2011 schedule offers a lot of variety.  Things start this week. Here's a sampling:
  • OLÉ! Does Broadway: Rodgers & Hammerstein
  • Shoots & Leaves: Planning Your Garden
  • Climate Change and Anthropogenic Global Warming
  • Coming into the Country: Anchorage's Refugee and Immigrant Communities
  • Protecting Your Art and Collectibles
And then there's Blogs and Blogging.  You'd think someone who's blogged almost five years should be able to pull this off.  But as I prepare, I realize how narrow my knowledge is.   But here's what I've got in mind.

1.  Objectives:
  •  To Gain an Understanding of What Blogs Are and Their Impact
    • To be able to explain what a blog is to someone else
    • To be able to find blogs online
    • To visit a number of different types blogs to get a sense of what this is blogging stuff is all about
    • To be able to leave comments on blog posts
    • To meet some bloggers and be able to ask them questions about why they blog, what they get out of it, etc.
    • To understand how bloggers track their viewers and 
    • To know the kind of information you leave behind when you visit blogs (or other websites)
  • To Try Out Creating Your Own Blog (Really, this is much easier than you can imagine. If it weren't, there wouldn't be so many blogs.)
    • In this part of the class, participants will create a Blogspot blog of their own and publish a few posts including:
      • Text
      • Photos
      • Video
    • Participants should also be able to 
      • notify Google of their blog and 
      • to include a tracking system to know how many people visit their sites.
2.  Schedule
  • Weeks 1 and 3 will focus on Objective A - learning about blogs.
    • Week 3 will include several local guest bloggers to talk about their blogs while you follow along online.  There might even be time for them to help you with your blogs. 
  • Weeks 2 and 4 will focus on actually creating a blog and experimenting with it.

The class will be held in a computer lab, so we should have a good time.  The Week 3 guest class turned out to be one of those opportunities caused by a problem - I was going to be out of town.  But having the other bloggers will really add to the class.  It was hard choosing people to invite, but in the end I tried to get people who do very different things on their blogs.  I've still got one or two people to confirm. 


  1. I actually found a copy of "The Idiot's Guide" at a used bookstore, wouldn't recommend buying a new one or assigning it as a textbook, but worth flipping through & making copies of a few pages/random notes.

    Probably the hardest lesson I ever learned was the value in sitting on a heated post (same with commenting), at least 12 hours.
    That and saving stuff separately, say in a Word document.
    And learning to integrate various other on-line resources w/the blog (ex: Picasa, YouTube, Facebook etc.)

    The coolest thing about teaching such a class to a different demographic than "normal" is the wealth of experience that can be drawn upon. I notice such a difference in depth and scope of work between say an 8am freshman class versus an evening one with comparatively older folks who are attending voluntarily and not for any grade. Another example are some of the best lectures I've ever given were to the Elderhostel program: nothing beats a room full of people who want to learn and are actually interested in the subject matter. I in turn learned much about so many things, mainly that one never has to ever stop learning.
    Good luck!

  2. Lorelle's stuff has always been useful. Although she uses WordPress, not Blogger, her blogging tips are very good. Unfortunately, her book is currently out of print and my copy is in a box somewhere.

    Blogging Tips - Lorelle VanFossen -

    [She has experience working with novices and elders and experts]


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