Blogs and techno-skeptics get their day at SITT

Wrye Sententia's "Spinning the Blogosphere" presentation started off the third day of the Summer Institute on Teaching and Technology on Wednesday. Sententia, a UC Davis writing program lecturer, showed how instructors can use blogs—Web journals that often invite readers to comment—to refresh student group projects.

Sententia's presentation fits into SITT's overall purpose as a fertile meeting place for talking about education and technology. In its 11th year, the institute has attracted over 100 people this summer to a week of discussions and workshops.

Wednesday morning, instructors from the university writing program discussed the use of writing as a teaching tool, a main theme this year. The other four major topics include SmartSite, the new course management Web tool on campus; media-rich teaching and learning; group work and collaboration; and recent research on education.

Sententia said faculty should consider blogs for their classes because students will feel more accountable and pay extra attention students when writing for a worldwide audience.

"A blog," she said, "puts that extra bead of sweat on their forehead."

John Stenzel, winner of the 2005 UC Davis Academic Federation Award for Excellence in Teaching, talked extensively about writing and pedagogy. Also a university writing program lecturer—and a self-proclaimed "techno-skeptic"—Stenzel warned against the easy optimism concerning what technology can do.

Word processors allow good writers to produce more good writing, he said, but they make bad writers more productive too.

The three presenters—Sententia, Stenzel, and fellow UWP lecturer Pamela Demory—fielded questions at the end of the session.

"I've always found the [UWP] department very beneficial," said Simone Clay, lecturer of French and Italian. "They share their material, and are a wonderful support."

Other presentations Wed nesday included podcasting and using audio in the classroom. Workshops covered teaching with SmartSite and using Breeze Presenter. Jan Dwyer, an intellectual property officer at UC Davis, was scheduled to give a talk on intellectual property rights at the end of the day.

Thursday's agenda will focus on wikis—collaborative online documents that users can edit—with a presentation by Philip Neustrom from daviswiki.org. Also, winning entries of the visual presentation contest will be displayed at the International House in the afternoon.

For more information about the program and upcoming events, please visit SITT's Web site.