Students: check what the teacher expects.
Teachers: are your expectations reasonable for the online publishing environment and spelled out?
Me: Try for a *brief* post for once.
Today I was browsing through the assignments and marking criteria in a friend's subject on social networking for information professionals.
YAY: Students would receive marks for their use of one of the social media tools, as an online journal. Excellent, if students are to use social web tools, their use of tools and their capacity to use such tools with increasing professionalism, should count (IMO).
SLIGHTLY ASIDE BUT IT WILL TIE BACK IN
Teachers ought to consider the best ways for students to learn about online publishing (it should be fun, step up gradually over time, and have clear signposts)... and very carefully how to enable that (in a pedagogically sound way) within a subject which requires online posting. One little point in passing: If the course is an introduction to social networking, expectations and marking criteria for a first post should *not* be the same as for final posts.
AND back on topic
Citation and referencing methods are different in online publishing. Teachers of courses that intend to incorporate online publishing should know very well the differences for different types of online tools, should teach them, adapt expectations of assignment content to suit the medium and teach how the students can meet those expectations within assignments in the new medium.
As Wilson [aka morgan] (2007) pointed out, in response to my ponderings (prior to the 6th edition) on how to cite new media in student papers, "All of these citation methods are optimized for printed media - how they spell out the URLs, which is cumbersome and unnecessary in an electronic publication." I agree, in the main, although the degree of truth to that depends what *kind* of electronic publication. (Although, even when submitting to academic publications who will both hyperlink and spell out references to enable printed versions, writers don't have to do the coding themselves).
At an undergraduate level, students are expected to have read widely in scholarly or industry literature and to cite suitable content using an institutionally selected Style. In my LIS courses it has always been with APA style. Yet APA style references should appear with hanging indents. How many novice bloggers have sufficient knowledge of html to produce hanging indents--and are they relevant?
Let's go back to the purposes of initiating students into writing using social media: is one of those purposes to encourage familiarity (and hopefully expertise) that will prepare them for professional applications? For the kinds of use to which your students should be able to put social media after graduation, is academic referencing appropriate, particularly APA? On the one hand academic references are rarely used in blogs for patron audiences; but might be in blogs for inter-professional communication if usually only when cited sources are not online. On the other hand even wikipedia requires references and teaches its users how to enter references appropriately, and you'll note it uses a discrete footnoting system.
ALMOST DONE, but first
The particular online journalling assignment I mentioned above? It could be produced in any of the social media tools. Can you imagine academic referencing in posts to Facebook?
SUMMING UP MY OPINION
- Don't set the bar too high on first posts ... encourage multiple familiarity posts with each showing a new desired attribute to gain comfort with the tool ... prior to the first basic assessable post. Make its assessable criteria much simpler than final posts.
- Don't ask boring questions.
- If you want to see academic citations:
- give an amount (why should they have to guess?);
- provide information about and discuss how they are used differently online;
- choose an online-suitable style;
- if you're going to insist on APA, consider explicitly waiving the hanging indent;
- *first* show how you expect to see it--in your own post to each of the tools at which you are accepting assessable posts (not in the closed learning system).
---and, just because I can:
Blogging Street Cred by Gideon Burton, via Flickr CC:BY-SA-2.0
Wilson, M. (2007, June 1). [comment to blogpost: How does one cite a blog post in APA style?]. Retrieved 27 November, 2011 from http://moonflowerdragon.blogspot.com/2007/04/how-does-one-cite-blog-post-or-blogpost.html