Technology Requirements for Early Assignments

Greetings!

This post is to give you details about some of the homework due in our first couple of weeks. Before our second class meeting, for example, you’ll need to have a Twitter account, and before our first day in the computer lab (Starr 108C on Monday, August 26), you’ll need to have a Tweetdeck account and start a blog.

Online Identity

Before I get to the details, let me mention one thing that you’ll hear me say a lot in class: you will never be required to identify your real self online for this class. In fact, some students make a fake Gmail account at the beginning of class, use it to sign up for services with fake names throughout the semester, and then trash it all when the semester is over. This kind of fakery is absolutely okay with me. If that feels like a lot of trouble, though, it’s also okay if you use your real name. Just be smart; your future friends and enemies will surely Google you in the future when you least expect it.

Okay, on to the three things you need to do (in addition to the readings listed on the schedule):

1. Create a Twitter Account

It’s easy at twitter.com. We’ll mostly use Twitter to read what others are saying, but occasionally we’ll play with it in class, as we try to decide what we think about its strengths and weaknesses as a communication tool in real time. As I said above, if you don’t want your real Twitter followers to see the weird stuff you talk about in class, feel free to make a new account with any fake name you choose. As you know, people often have more than one account to manage the different sorts of things they talk about with different audiences.

For instance, I have a real Twitter account that I use for my personal and professional life (@kstedman), but I also have one that I only use for my RHET 351 classes (@rhet351).

Whenever I want to share something with you on Twitter, I’ll include the hashtag #rhet351, and you should feel free to use it as well. Any tweets with that hashtag will appear in the sidebar of this blog.

(Optional: if you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, you might want to read a good introduction to the service, like this one.)

2. Create a Tweetdeck Account

To do so, head to tweetdeck.com. Tweetdeck is one of many ways to read your Twitter feed. I’m going to require that we use it in class, as I think it’s one of the easiest ways to follow multiple tweet streams at the same time. (Don’t worry, I’ll explain all this later.) For now, just having an account when you step through the door on August 26 will save us considerable time in class.

Be sure that you create a Twitter account first, before you create a Tweetdeck account.

3. Create a Blog at WordPress.com

(It’s important that you go to wordpress.com, not wordpress.org.) Your blog will be your main way to share information with me (and each other!) throughout the semester. You’ll use it to write short responses to readings, longer essays, and to share links to work you’ve done elsewhere.

And because this course page is hosted at WordPress.com, you’ll also be able to comment on any page here once you’ve created a WordPress account. Feel free to post questions or comments at the bottom of any post I make.

As with much of the work you’ll do in this class, your blog will be public to the entire world. Keep this in mind when you choose the title of your blog and the url where people will find it. It’s up to you if you want to give it a fun name or a boring name, and it’s up to you if you want to explain to the public that your blog is for a class or not.

For instance, you might make a blog called Thelma’s Thoughtful Thoughts, found at http://thelmasthoughts.wordpress.com (whether or not your name is actually Thelma). Or you might make a blog called RHET 351 is a Class My College Requires Me to Take, found at http://rhet351sux.wordpress.com.

My main concern is that your blog exists before we meet in the computer lab on August 26. In class, I’ll ask you to log in and fiddle with a couple of things, but until then it’s fine if all you’ve done at WordPress is create a blog. (Of course, if you’re bored and want to play around by adding widgets and customizing the look and writing an “About” page, please go ahead!)

Okay, this is enough for now. As always, let me know if you have any questions or problems. I’d always like to be in the loop. My email address and everyone else’s is in Moodle, or you can just send a tweet to @kstedman.

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