Tag Archives: blogging

Read and Write Outside the Classroom, Too.


Sara Wink, Kaplan University Composition Faculty

For months, my daughter asked—not quite begging, but close—for a “real bike.” Her Radio Flyer big wheel just barely contained her lanky frame, so it wasn’t an unreasonable request…except she couldn’t pedal.

“It’s hard.” Those words came every time I stopped pushing. By five-year-old logic, something hard equals something not worth doing. Far better to go back to what is easy: forming words, over, and over, and over again: “Can I have a bike? I’m big enough. Can we look at bikes? Look, that kid has a bike. It only has two wheels. Mine has three, and that’s okay, but I really only need two, Mom…” It took weeks of (mostly) gentle prodding to drive her to move her feet, fall into the rhythm of the wheels, and—HOORAY! Pedaling!

Nowadays she still asks for a real bike, but not nearly so often. She knows a “real” bike will require more energy on her part. She knows she has to build up her leg muscles and balance to get there. She knows she needs to keep it up.

Why aren’t we all like that about the skills that count?

Writing, blogging https://kuwcnews.wordpress.com/

Teachers should set an example for students to follow. By showing them that regular reading and writing do help build one’s skills, they’ll be more motivated to try both. We need that connection of experience for the sake of understanding. My students always feel badly when they have to deal with their kids during seminar. When I tell them I’ve handled class discussions within 24 hours of giving birth to twins, they KNOW I’m one to turn to when things get overwhelming.

So how can we ask them to do all this reading and writing when we only do it when we absolutely have to? We’ve all read some faculty emails that really could have used an editor. We’ve also been guilty of writing such emails ourselves. And yet here we are, demanding students step up with their written work.

Let’s set a good example. Let’s make reading and writing count in our daily professional lives. I’m not just talking emails. I’m talking some critical and/or creative work. Be it novels or professional books, give yourself something to read every day.

No, not student projects. Something fun. I recently finished Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, a medieval mystery filled with Latin. I enjoyed the story, and I was also challenged by the translation work as well as the dense prose. Now I’m going to read Agatha Christie. Maybe you like romance, or an epic, or a historical biography. Great! READ IT. One chapter at a time won’t bite too much out of your day. As we so often tell students: the more you read, the better you write. This applies to teachers, too.

Writing skills need practice outside of discussion boards and announcements. Blogging can be a great way to exercise those skills. Like my colleague, Lisa Gerardy, I have a website where I write under a different name. I write about my studies in fiction, influential music, observations captured in photography, etc. It has absolutely nothing to do with Kaplan; it has everything to do with what interests me. That interest motivates me to write every week.

The more I write, the better I feel about reading—and critiquing—what others write. The more I write longer pieces, the easier it is to write those discussion board responses. Yes, the extra reading and writing take time, but we owe it to the students as well as to ourselves to show what a good reading and writing regimen can do.

If not, we should stop telling them to ride the two-wheeler until we are fit to pedal it ourselves.

 

 

 

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Blogging to Enhance a Job Search


Dr. Tamara Fudge, Kaplan University professor in the School of Business and IT

Everyone wants to enhance the chances for a better job, and blogging can help!

You can share your career-related knowledge by posting good content. In what areas do you want to be considered an expert? A web developer might write about the value of validation or appropriate use of color. A medical assistant might write about the need to stick to HIPAA or recommend ways to deal with rude patients. A paralegal might write about courtroom dress code or the need to document everything thoroughly. No matter your career area, you could provide how-to lists, suggestions for certifications, what-if scenarios, and personal experiences. You can also link to other things you have done!

How does this help your job search, you ask? Many employers will look for information about job candidates by simply using a search engine and checking what comes up on the results list. Wouldn’t it be great for those employers to see your blog and find that you know your topics well? You can also list the web address right on your resume to make sure they can find it, of course.

Keeping this in mind, then, remember to post only positive information. Negativity towards anything can have the opposite effect you want, as that employer might perceive you as a simply another complainer who likes to post online. Complainers are not high on the employment list.

Similarly, use professional language. Informality may be construed as insincere or even flippant.

Another perk of writing a blog is that it helps you hone your communication skills through frequent writing practice. This is not only good as a student, but for the workplace, too.

Blogging is free, and you don’t need someone else’s permission to do it! Consider Word Press, Google’s Blogger (also known as Blogspot), or blog.com. Whichever system you choose, it may take you a little time to set up, but these platforms are created so that you don’t need to know any HTML coding to get it done.

Important things to consider:

  • Maintain control of what is shown on your blog pages, including comments. Set up your blog to disallow comments if you are worried there may be negative responses,  and/or you don’t intend to watch the comments carefully. Alternatively, most systems have a feature where you allow comments only with moderation, which means you get to decide whether or not to let each comment be seen.
  • Don’t hide your blog! Make sure you allow the blog to be listed by search engines.
  • Encourage your readers to sign up for the RSS feed, so they will get automatic notification when you have entered a new post. There should be a simple link somewhere on your blog pages to a “feed” that takes the reader to information about this.
  • Post regularly – for example, once a week or twice a month. Those who sign up for the feed will appreciate the regularity of notifications.
  • Proofread! What you post can only have a positive effect on your resume if it shows you can communicate well.
  • Make sure your content is original. Any plagiarism will reflect on you quite poorly, and yes, it will be noticed! If you want to share someone else’s ideas, link to them. If you really want to quote or paraphrase, make sure you clearly identify the source material (aha – finally we have a prospective use for APA).
  • Highly important: Do *not* post your schoolwork, as it would enable others to cheat. As the “enabler,” you could be held responsible by your school and be subject to a plagiarism report. Always write new content!
  • Lastly, customize the design if you have the knowledge to do so. If you’re not very technical, ask a friend to help, and make sure it looks professional when you’re done.

Blogs can be fun and showcase your knowledge. These are great reasons for blogging as you seek to enhance your job search!

A Bloggers Group: Uniting through Writing


By Molly Wright Starkweather

Kaplan University Writing Center Tutor

One of the most unique opportunities for growing a campus culture in an online university is through clubs and societies. There are many places for students to get plugged in, whether in an honor society like Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing or in a club like Disability Rights, Education, Advocacy, and Mentoring (DREAM). Faculty and staff can get involved in Parenting Group or Night Owls (a professional development group that meets exclusively in the evenings). Another opportunity for fostering an involved campus community is through Writing Across the Curriculum. WAC involves students and faculty focusing on improving writing skills in a supportive, even collaborative way. After all, writing is a lifelong skill that anyone at a university can grow.

What better way to cultivate writing and solidify community at our university than by hosting a group of faculty, staff, and students interested in writing?

An inclusive Bloggers Group provides this very opportunity for the academic community. The group

  • focuses on blogging as versatile, engaging writing;
  • welcomes bloggers of all interests and skill levels;
  • includes faculty, staff, and currently enrolled students at an online or brick and mortar university.

The best part of being in a blogging group is that a member’s identity– whether student, faculty, or staff member– is a badge and not a barrier. What that means is that a student can ask questions and give advice, as can a faculty or staff member, without worrying about the constraints of the classroom or writing for a grade. Bloggers read and comment on each others’ blogs, share their challenges and successes during meetings, and offer each other supportive emails with writing ideas and advice. Meetings are a place for students to participate as aspiring professionals on a more even plane with fellow bloggers who just happen to be faculty or staff members. Just as in course seminars, the expertise of a professor blends well with the experience of a student, but no one is grading anyone for his or her writing or participation. As a writing tutor,  I can give advice to a student blogger about hooking the audience, and that same student blogger can give advice to me about embedding videos into my blog.

Blogging to improve your writing is a wonderful journey that gets even better with support from fellow bloggers. Anyone in the university community can start a bloggers group. Do you have a blogging group at your institution?

 

In a Hurry? This Book Review Is for You


The In-Between by Jeff Goins (164 pages)

Reviewed by Chrissine Rios MA, Writing Tutor

Who should read this book? Anyone who has ever been in a hurry, said, “I can’t wait!” or feels ready for a change but is unable to do it just yet.

The_In-Between_GoinsSummary: Goins illustrates his hurried attitude in a candid memoir featuring his life’s bigger moments from studying abroad to having a baby. His narrative takes readers to the streets of Madrid, across America in his band’s van, and through Illinois cornfields on a train home for the holidays. Meanwhile, his reflections reveal another journey in progress. While his inner dialogue leading up to his marriage proposal, and later, his son’s birth expresses the tender and uneasy emotions that would resonate with any reader who has lived through similar life changes, his personal growth also becomes more apparent as his indwelling narrows in on the hand-holding and the ultra-sound blips—the more ordinary and fleeting moments in the present instead of the event up ahead. Then, when Goins sits at his ailing grandfather’s bedside, essentially waiting for his grandfather to die, he hears his grandfather pray the only prayer Goins had ever heard his grandfather say, and this is a pinnacle moment for Goins who awakens to the in-between, realizing these moments, not the big events, shape who we are.

Why I picked this book: I had already been inspired by Goins’ blog and motivational tips for writers, so I knew it would not disappoint. Now, I’m not a pray-er; I’m a good-thoughts thinker, but Goins even made his prayer epiphany one I could relate to. Read the book and judge for yourself, but I’m pretty certain that if I weren’t a member of the “In-Between Insiders”—a generous giveaway Goins offered with all pre-ordered books—and I hadn’t already known that Goins’ had a Christian following among his wayward writer fans like me who have latched onto his message that our writing matters and tribe awaits, I would not have given a second thought to the few other times God comes up in his is memoir because they are subtle and fleeting moments too. In fact, I found his anecdote about his father raising him not to be a “Jesus freak” rather refreshing, and telling. Goins is a powerful writer who has masterfully integrated his faith and art to express a clear message about how we can embrace who we are and what we are doing today, a message that has certainly benefited me. Living like the journey is more important than the destination is not a new idea, but I need all the help and inspiration I can get. Do you? Read the book. Maybe it will help you start writing again, too.

Favorite quote from the book: “All we have are these moments. What we choose to do with them is what we choose to do with our lives.”

Two-Faced Blogging


Seedling Sprout downloaded from Clipart.com (subscription via Kaplan University)

©2013JupiterImages

Lisa Gerardy, Writing Center Specialist, Kaplan University

Many writing instructors, tutors, and other educational professionals have blogs.  These blogs are generally professional blogs that discuss topics relating to the writers’ professions.  According to Why You Should Blog To Get Your Next Job on Mashable, a good professional blog can actually help further your career.  That makes sense, really.  One would expect a subject matter expert to write about his or her area of expertise.   So, why would a professional choose to have a private blog?

I’m a Writing Center Specialist at Kaplan University.  So, most of my on-the job writing relates to educational topics.  Sometimes, though not nearly often enough, I contribute to this blog.  When I write for work, I put my professional hat on.  When I’m not working, though, I like to blog for fun.  Here is how I do it without it interfering with my day job.

  1. I never blog during working hours.  My personal blog writing takes place in the wee hours of the morning, or in the evening.  This way I can keep work Lisa and silly Lisa separate.
  2. I use my maiden name on my personal blog, and my married name at work.  So, it’s almost like there are two Lisa’s.
  3. I don’t blog about my job.  I really like my job, and I would like to keep it.  So, I keep work out of my goofy blog.

Having a personal blog is like having a safe place to practice my writing.  It doesn’t have to be perfect or professional. My writing can be about any topic I choose.  For me, blogging is exercise for the brain.