Monday, 11 October 2010

Blogging All Over The World

Thank you for taking the time to drop by. My name is Tony Reeves and I am a Learning Technologist at the University for the Creative Arts, and I do my best to help staff investigate ways in which they can use technology in their teaching.

I am currently researching the different ways in which blogs can be used as part  of a university course, and whether the ability for former students to contribute to the blogs is beneficial for current students. I would welcome your thoughts and comments about the use of blogs on the CGArts course - please feel free to share your experience by commenting on this post!

Many thanks,

Tony Reeves


  1. Hey Tony - welcome :-) I'll put your comment on the group blog asap!

  2. Hey Tony, I'm a second year student on CG Arts and Animation and I can't praise blogs enough. They not only provide a great place to develop, share and display work but also become an invaluable learning tool. Graduates are a huge help, they keep an eye on the blogs and provide a lot of advice when we get stuck. Jon Stewart is a great example, he is constantly posting tutorials to help everyone if they get stuck on the technical aspects of the course. I think the great advantage to blogging is how much it extends commnunication, I often get advice from the tutors and other students at times outside of uni.

  3. Hi Tony, i am also a second year on the same course as Jordan. Since the start of our course we have always used the blog as a learning tool, not only to work from teacher to student, but also a tool which allows student to student help. This allows for an easier method of communication to everyone involved on the course inside but more importantly outide of course times. Its a quick and easy way to showcase your work to your tutors, and from my understanding an easier way for our work to be graded. Blogging brings across a more social aspect to the course which also means that graduates to the course can stay in touch and always be at aid when we need help, for example like Jordan mentioned Jon Stewart has been of great help when needed. I feel as though it is a great learning tool and should be used far into the future for CG Arts & Animation.

  4. Couldn't have said it better myself, Jordan, especially the communication aspect.

    I think one of the biggest advantages is the ability to ask technical questions and have them answered quickly - rather than signing up to a forum or trawling search engines - by higher years or tutors.

    The blogs aren't just bound to university-specific subjects and queries, either. Often CG and Art related videos and links are posted up on the group blog for everyone to take a look at.

    Blogspot has almost literally become a uni-away-from-uni.

    We sound like we work for Google's marketing division.

  5. Hey,

    I'm Jolanta. And I've been using blog now for a year. ANd honestly said can't imagine now my development without one.Its now so naturalto share the work producedor your thoughts and ideas, and get feedback. A week a go I've used this option to export blog into a PDF file - a book, and it was 400 page book, written in a yesar. It was really interesting to then see the obvious progress I made after a year.

  6. Hi there Tony. I'm Jon, a CG Arts Graduate.

    I more or less echo what the former people have said. I think it's an extremely important tool for a course such as CG Arts & Animation, where the software is the key. If you don't develop your Maya software skills at a steady pace you quickly fall behind, and a downward spiral phenomenon occurs in which one finds it extremely difficult to get out of.

    For me, the blogs were of huge benefit. It meants I could get feedback on work and technical issues at a faster rate. Whether it be by the tutors or students, often you find that your peers are running into the same problems anyway, and someone knows how to fix it. It brings the feeling of community closer, which is very important on a course that is considered to be dominated by bedroom dwelling nerds.

    By writing down your thoughts and 'ideas' in a blog medium, we quickly begin to analyze what we were thinking, and the flaws and holes become evident. The problem with keeping these thoughts in our heads is that our brains will naturally fill these flaws in for us, and we won't even realise it.

  7. Hi there Tony, I am an alumni from the year before last, and am at present helping out as a sessional lecturer on CGAA.
    When I started blogging way back in the Feburary of 2009 it was still in its infancy in regards to its application on the course. Since then I have seen it develop into a strong, mature asset. As many of the students have testified the facilities that mass group blogging offers have improved the technical and creative aspects of the course. As important as these features and perhaps the greatest boon is the sense of community that now pervades the course, not just from within each year group but includes alumni and of course the lecturers themselves.

  8. Thank you all enormously for taking the time to share your thoughts about the CGArts blogs. From an outsider's perspective the use of blogs does create the impression that there is a sense of community around the course and your comments all certainly seem to support this.

    I am hoping that the evidence gathered during this research project will help to make other courses aware of the advantages of integrating blogs into course design. Although it might not be suitable for every course, I do believe that those with a digital or online focus could benefit from using blogs as a way to externalise and analyse the creative thought process, as you say Jon.

    Does anyone have an idea of how many alumni take an active interest in students' blogs?

  9. I would say alumni wise it's mostly Simon and myself, with a couple more popping up every now and then.

  10. Hi Tony,

    I'm a first year CG student, I must say the blog is an excellent resource! I have to say though that over reliance on it should be avoided, some people may not have access to the internet 24/7 but go through the uni pcs or libraries. I've found that most of the course material is only availible in digital format which I agree is not only green but convienient, but every now and then something seems to go missing on MyUca (recently anyway) and sometimes material is in an odd file type (eg one of the Perception presentation was in and Open Office file type)

    Those niggles aside its an amazing communication tool, perfect for bouncing ideas around and getting feedback/a kick in the pants

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  12. ... ah, it's Peter Ingestad from Sweden again; in truth, we've had very little experience of spamming (though this isn't spam, so much as self-promotion!). Something for your research document too! :-)

  13. Hi Tony,

    My name's Charlotte. I'm a second year on the same course as Jordan and Richard. I have been using blogger for just over a year now and like Jolanta said, I couldn't imagine not using it in my creative development. Having it to add all my work to not only helps me keep track of what I'm doing, but also allows me to have feed back on my work. Having the CG Arts group blog was also a great creation. If we're having trouble with our work it’s a great place to seek help and advice from not only the tutors but also the rest of students in the same course.

  14. Hi,
    I'm another second-year Student on the CG Art. Blogging alongside the rest of my coursemates has become a really important part of the student experience on this course over the last year or so. Having a personal page to update with course ideas, tasks and results gives much more motivation, knowing that as soon as a piece of art or a short animation of ours is completed and posted, it will be seen by a few dozen people.

    The time taken to receive feedback is also great which can save a lot of time inbetween lectures with our tutors and seeing our classmates on the campus. The blog makes it possible to stick a piece of art up and get instant opinions on how to improve it. The blog has also been become even more important this year as we are currently on a group-based unit and having the community we do on blogger, makes everything quicker to share and communicate with team members.

    Socially, I think the blog has made our course-year more relaxed and confident, with everyone sharing work, it can also be really helpful, when struggling with motivation, to look through some classmate's work and see what approach they are taking to the project.

  15. Thanks for that Peter, on a serious blog regarding a University course over the use of blogging or not which appears to be quite a controversial matter, you come in and present a flaw in the blogging experience.

    I have to add that spamming isn't a thing you have to deal with if you use the captcha word verification. So it's definately not a major concern.

  16. Like I said, this isn't spam in the 'strange Chinese characters hyperlinked to porn' category - our friend from Sweden is self-promoting; no real problem with that, except his comments make no thematic contribution to the posts he's visiting, which is a bit miserly. Anyway, I've checked the links he provides and they take you to his various blogs - all legit, if 'www' esoteric!

  17. Hey Tony

    My name is Ben, and im a first year, I thought I would lend a hand in advice regarding students and the use of blogs:
    I decided to give you a quick list of pros and cons, because I think it does come to a final outline of weighing them against each other:

    You can see your fellow students work, and its great for getting tips from each other.

    You can give your blog to potential clients, I already have to such clients as Warner Brothers and Sony

    Its also a great source to back your work up on especially if you have lost all your hard drives and memory sticks.

    It isnt the easier programming system to talk to each other, it usually consists of commenting in a post and hoping that someone remembers to look at it in a later date, even if the post has nothing to do with the comment.

    It can be hard to get to gribs with from the start, I have been using it for about a month and myself and others I know are still having troubles.

    Students can copy each others work without them even realising.

    Some comments can be seen out of context, for example I recieved a constructive comment and believed it was quite offence until I spoke to this person face to face.

    Overall I think they weigh out each other, and Im sure there are probably blogs that could do a worse and better job than blogger.

  18. Hi Tony,
    another first year here... short and sweet, when the summer project arrived and the mention of having to blog was brought up I was dreading it as they aren't usually anything I would go near, but since it has been put into practice, I really can't praise it enough. Its like keeping the community alive outside of uni and as I live a little way away from uni it saves me travel money being able to show my tutors what i'm getting up to without the need to get into uni and show them physically before I can move onto the next step. :)
    again.... great tool

  19. Thank you Ben, it's very useful to hear some of the 'cons' as well as the 'pros'.

    And thank you Nat - I think your is an experience common to many when they first start using blogs!