I’m writing this as I am giving a presentation on a panel at the AoIR IR 7.0 conference in Brisbane, Australia. The exciting part is that I\’m still in Philadelphia, I am linked in to the conference room over Skype, giving my talk and participating remotely. The panel was put together by Marcus Foth, and includes presentations by Michael Arnold, Geoff Erwin, and myself. I\’m pretty sure this is an AoIR first. Ever have that dream where you are giving a talk at a conference in your pajamas? Sure hope I\’m not too jet lagged to teach tomorrow! If you are interested in hearing the talk, you can see and hear a flash version of my presentation.

I am experimenting with the use of course blogs. Students are required to post weekly reactions to the course readings and to comment on each other\’s posts. They are also blogging their assignments. This is something I have resisted in the past, but I was inspired by a few colleagues who have been doing this successfully for some time: Christian Sandvig, Eszter Hargittai, and Liz Lawley. I am extremely pleased with how the first few weeks have worked out. The quality of the posts seems high than paper versions I have asked for in previous years, I am not sure if it is comfort with the medium or the public performance aspect. I am also very pleased by the interaction between students built around the blogs, they seem more engaged with each other. On occasion I have even invited the author\’s of the articles students are reading to read and comment on the blogs, the students seem excited by it and at least one author reported back that he benefited from the comments students had posted. I\’m using Movable Type 3.32 with a few scripts that I have customized to make class administration a little easier. The course blogs can be found here: COMM 481: Social Networks (undergrad), COMM 410: New Media and Community Life (undergrad), COMM 866: New Media and Society. Student posts are recorded as trackbacks to each week\’s readings and assignments.