Blog group assignments

What is media fluency? This question is not only at the heart of our course, it is what will drive your main assignment in the course as well. Your goal is to work in groups to produce a rich-media web site over the course of the semester that deals with the issue of “media fluency” for an undergraduate audience in an engaging and insightful way. You will work together to populate your web site with interesting multimedia content, link your website to relevant online resources like YouTube videos and Wikipedia pages, market your website through social media and search optimization, and curate comments and discussion on your web site. You’ll document your decisions in a content strategy. By using web site analytics, you will track the popularity and reach of your web site over time. And you’ll test the efficacy of your decisions with usability testing.

By week 3, we should be in the groove of completing these assignments on a regular basis. The first two weeks are a little bouncy due to holidays.

These assignments will be due by Friday in section each week and will require you to organize and sometimes meet with your group in advance.

WEEK 01 – Friday, September 6, 2013

  • On your own before section: join Google+ and Google Docs (docs.google.com). If you have a Gmail address already, you may use it here. You will use a Google+ community to share your work.
  • Start thinking about your blog topic: what topic, angle, or “voice” for your blog that relates to “media fluency” somehow. You might want to browse ahead in your reader to see what kinds of issues we’ll be dealing with in class, and to think about how you might interpret or spin those issues in a unique way or from a unique perspective.

WEEK 02 –
Wednesday, September 11, 2013: in class

  • In regular class: forming your blog groups! Start talking about your potential topics.

Friday, September 13, 2013: in section

  • WordPress training. Required.
  • Choose your blog topic & create your group

Before your next section meeting (Friday 9/20), with your group: 

  • Create a shared online workspace. Set up your Google Documents space and invite all of your group members, your TA, and your professor.
  • Narrow your target market: you are addressing undergraduates, but you will narrow down from all undergrads to just some to address as your audience. Settle on an audience for your blog that narrows the “university undergraduate” market. You may want to focus on demographic traits (men? women? first-generation college students?) or interest-based (“psychographic”) traits like political junkies, techies, non-techies, outdoorsy types, kitten enthusiasts, or whatever.
  • Document your decisions in your Google+ group.

WEEK 03 – Friday, September 20, 2013: in section

  • WordPress training. Required.

Then over the next week, between 9/20 and 9/27:

  • Start your blog! Pick a template for your blog and customize it with your own choices of fonts, colors, etc. You may also want to design some unique graphics to add. Note that WordPress may try to charge you more, so you will be working within the constraints of the public WordPress.com installation.
  • Will you use real names, pseudonyms, or anonymous? Add authors to your blog under the privacy rules your group agreed on
  • Enable comments on your blog under the privacy rules you agreed on
  • Set up comment moderation; how will you divide the labor of moderation?
  • In addition, you need to create your editorial calendar.
    • Editorial calendar: who will post what days of the week? What will you be posting each week? You can determine this and then put it in your Facebook group.
    • For the first week, you should introduce the blog and its topic, and introduce yourselves. What else would you want a brand new visitor to know about your topic and your approach to media fluency?

WEEK 04 – Friday, September 27, 2013: before section meets

  • Make a 1/2 hour appointment with the Design Lab (http://designlab.wisc.edu/) with your group—ideally with your WHOLE group. Discuss with them your blog, your target market and your content strategy. Write up a single-spaced page about what you learned and put it on Google Docs. (You might use this as a blog post in a future week.)
  • In section: discuss what you’ve learned and how you will adapt your site accordingly.

WEEK 05 – Friday, October 4, 2013: before section meets

  • Each group blog needs to go live this week. Email your blog address to your TA and professor. Remember: THIS IS A PUBLIC WEB SITE THAT THE WHOLE INTERNET CAN SEE. Be certain about your choices of identity/pseudonymity/anonymity before you go live with your site.
  • We will post all the blog addresses on the main page of the course web site. Visit your competing student blogs to see what ideas they have used and whether you will be in direct competition with them. Begin to engage in conversation with them through their commenting feature.
  • Each student must post something substantive to their group blog to start things off with lots of content, such as your summaries/critiques of the readings to date, or your online assignment write-ups.
    • You may want to pace your posts so they don’t all appear on the same day, to keep the site looking lively. With WordPress, you can choose the publication date and time so that you can stagger the posts.

WEEK 06 – Friday, October 11, 2013: before section meets

  • Weekly posting. Each student must post something substantive to their group blog.
  • Weekly commenting. Each student must visit one of the other class blogs and engage somehow (leave a comment, participate in a survey, whatever means of participation they offer to you).
  • Check your blog stats. These are available from your dashboard.
  • Choose an RSS reader software or service. I use Feedly.com.
  • Take some time to summarize all the decisions you’ve made so far about your blog. Write these down in a document (you might use Google Docs) so you can refer to them later.

WEEK 07 – Friday, October 18, 2013: before section meets

  • Weekly posting. Each student must post something substantive to their group blog.
  • Weekly commenting. Each student must visit one of the other class blogs and engage somehow (leave a comment, participate in a survey, whatever means of participation they offer to you).
  • Check your stats. Are you getting the response to your blog that you expected? Where are your visitors coming from?
  • IN SECTION: Usability testing. Are people using the site in the way that you intended? Are they finding your content? In section, we will do some usability testing. Your blog group should together write a one-page report about how your blog users use your site.

WEEK 08 – Friday, October 25, 2013
FIRST EXAM—NO SECTION MEETING
Your weekly posts, comments and stat checks are still due. 

  • Blog critique. Your professor and TA will evaluate your blog as a whole and let you know if you are on your way to full points for your work, or if your work is falling short of our expectations.

WEEK 09 – starting Friday, November 1, 2013: before section meets

  • Weekly posting. Each student must post something substantive to their group blog.
  • Weekly commenting. Each student must visit one of the other class blogs and engage somehow (leave a comment, participate in a survey, whatever means of participation they offer to you).
  • Check your stats. Are you getting the response to your blog that you expected? Where are your visitors coming from?
  • Set up a Facebook page for your blog. Decide how often you will update it, and who will do that work. How will you track the response?

WEEK 10 – Friday, November 8, 2013: before section meets

  • Weekly posting. Each student must post something substantive to their group blog.
  • Weekly commenting. Each student must visit one of the other class blogs and engage somehow (leave a comment, participate in a survey, whatever means of participation they offer to you).
  • Check your stats. Are you getting the response to your blog that you expected? Where are your visitors coming from?
  • Set up a Twitter feed for your blog. Decide how often you will update it, and who will do that work. How will you measure the response?

WEEK 11 – Friday, November 15, 2013: before section meets

  • Weekly posting. Each student must post something substantive to their group blog.Weekly commenting. Each student must visit one of the other class blogs and engage somehow (leave a comment, participate in a survey, whatever means they offer to you).
  •  Check your analytics. Make some notes each week (in your shared Google document) on how your blog audience is responding to your work.
  • Identify some key people around campus (fellow students, teachers, researchers, advisers, administrators) and try to get them to engage with your blog. You might invite someone to do a guest post, or ask them if you can repost something from their web writings. Or invite someone to comment on a discussion you are having on the blog. Or just ask their opinion and see if it leads to any greater blog activity.

WEEK 12 – Friday, November 22, 2013: before section meets

  • Weekly posting. Each student must post something substantive to their group blog.
  • Weekly commenting. Each student must visit one of the other class blogs and engage somehow (leave a comment, participate in a survey, whatever means they offer to you).
  • Check your stats. Are you getting the response to your blog that you expected? Where are your visitors coming from?
  • Discussions about your final project. What do you think you might like to do? Last semester, there were a variety of projects: maps, mobile and iPad app prototypes, animations, digital books, a digital cookbook, rich PDFs, and all kinds of videos. We’ll share some of these in class. What intrigues you and what might best fit for your content?

WEEK 13 – NO SECTION. THANKSGIVING WEEK.

WEEK 14 – Friday, December 6, 2013 – NO SECTION. GROUP MEETINGS WITH TA & PROFESSOR.

  • Weekly posting. Each student must post something substantive to their group blog.
  • Weekly commenting. Each student must visit one of the other class blogs and engage somehow (leave a comment, participate in a survey, whatever means they offer to you).
  • Check your analytics. Make some notes each week (in your shared Google document) on how your blog audience is responding to your work.

WEEK 15 – FINAL EXAM ON WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11 (NOT DURING EXAM PERIOD)
Friday, December 13, 2013 – NO SECTION.  

  • Close out your blog. Post a single collaborative “closing statement” to your blog to indicate that you will no longer be updating it, and to indicate how long it will remain alive on the blogosphere.
  • Archive your work. Create an archive of your blog posts (printed out, digitally copied, or both) so each student can retain a copy.
  • Work on your final presentation and project.

WEEK 16 – Wednesday, December 18, 2013 – FINAL PROJECT PRESENTATIONS DURING EXAM TIME—WITH CELEBRATIONS

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