Boccaccio Blog a Success in the Italian Classroom

Professor of Italian Dennis McAuliffe elected to use a blog in his Boccaccio class this semester–a class in the Italian Department which studies in detail the works of Giovanni Boccaccio in translation. In an interview with Professor McAuliffe, he expressed that the students have been extremely responsive throughout semester with their blog posts. Deciding to make blog posts mandatory for the students, McAuliffe decided that posting in English would be more conducive to a thorough and in-depth discussion on the literary works.

McAuliffe’s desire was for the blog to prepare students for classroom interaction–to stimulate discussion out of the classroom before the class in order to raise relevant issues in a classroom venue. He wanted to engage the students in conversation in relation to their ruminations on the blog space, and, overall, he is pleased with the results of preparedness in the students, and also pleased at the level of interaction amongst the students.

McAuliffe also holds that the blog paves the way for better, seminar-type discussions as opposed to a lecture-style, where students often become bored and passive. Using the blog for inter-personal interaction outside of the classroom makes the students feel more in touch with the issues of the classroom, and more able to take hold of the issues relevant to them and shape the class discussions.

Professor McAuliffe has indicated an interest to use a blog in future courses, citing the eager and timely student blog posting, commenting, and discussion.

Faculty Find Uses For Blogs in All Disciplines

blog1.jpgWe’re pleased to announce that the Digital Commons blog tool is going strong. During this fall semester alone we have 13 faculty members who have created blogs for their respective classes in a wide variety of disciplines. Ranging from theology to English, from CCT to the School of Foreign Service, blogs are being employed across the curriculum. This bodes well for the Spring semester, when the Digital Commons tools will be officially rolled out. Some professors require blog posts weekly or bi-weekly for a grade, whereas others continue to use the blog for an additional space for voluntary interaction and discussion among the students–both viable and productive ways of utilizing this new tool.

Three of our own CNDLS staff members use blogs in their classes; Eddie Maloney and Randy Bass in their graduate English courses, “Reading Joyce and Woolf” and “Approaches to Teaching Writing,” respectively, and John Rakestraw has chosen to employ a blog in his theology class, “The Problem of God.” Check the blog soon for updates on the progress of these great class blogs.

In addition to English and theology, professors Dennis McAuliffe and Lioudmila Fedorova have decided to use the blogs to supplement foreign language and culture learning in Italian and Russian, while Michael Coventry has used a blog for two of his CCT classes, and Kai-Henrick Barth has chosen a blog for his “Unconventional Weapons Technology” class.

Take a look at this comprehensive list of class blogs for a demonstration of class blog possibilities:

CCTP 704: Gender, Sexuality, and the Body – Michael Coventry

CCTP 787: Designing Interdisciplinary Research – Michael Coventry

ENGL 043: Culture Between Criticism and System – Andrew Rubin

ENGL 645: Reading Joyce and Woolf – Eddie Maloney

ENGL 722: Approaches to Teaching Writing – Randy Bass

ITAL 375: Boccaccio – Dennis McAuliffe

LSHV 704: Founders Watch Blog – Charlie Yonkers

RUSS 313: Advanced Oral Expression – Lioudmilla Fedorova

SEST 555: Unconventional Weapons Technology – Kai-Henrik Barth

STIA 352: Journalism in Science, Environment & Health – Vincent Kiernan

THEO 001: The Problem of God – John Rakestraw

Jacqueline Klingebiel, CCT Student, Posts First Student Thesis Blog

Jacqueline Klingebiel, a CCT student, is one of the first students to use the GDC Student Thesis Blog format for her Masters thesis. Exploring the new technologies of YouTube and the “blogosphere” as political phenomena destined to change the methods of American democracy, Jacqueline has found that the thesis blog is a perfect venue for her project. What better way to talk about YouTube and the blogosphere than using a blog and incorporating the actual YouTube videos she is researching?

In an email interview with Jacqueline, she indicates that her delving into the very “new media” that she is studying has unveiled a greater appreciation for the practice of blogging. She realizes how much labor and upkeep a blog involves, and this very hands-on approach to her topic has helped formulate the thesis of her argument, which is, taken from her blog, that “citizen-journalists and user-generated content are playing an integral role during presidential primary coverage by joining the ranks with institutional media. As a result, the public is now having a larger impact in ’setting the agenda.’”

Jacqueline feels that her blog is an ideal way to get feedback from her peers and advisor as the research process is going on, as all the students in the CCT program have access to her blog. This interactivity would be much more difficult in a traditional, paper format. She hopes to have something visual and interesting to show future employers her research prowess and innovative project–showing, rather than telling, about her skills.

She appreciates the close relationship CNDLS has with the CCT program, making the blogging process efficient and organized. Pleased that CNDLS “offer[s] other options of non-traditional media formats,” Jacqueline is blogging with gusto, proving the potential of the GDC thesis blog to be an important and rewarding research tool.

Jacqueline’s thesis is entitled, “HyperPolitics and the YouTube Elections” An Analysis of the 2008 Primaries .

Sample Wikis Completed!

Digital Commons is pleased to announce the release of 4 Sample Wiki pages, which we hope will prove most useful in demonstrating the possibilities available using the wiki tool. We introduce four:

• Sample Course Wiki

• Sample Glossary Page

• Sample Research Wiki

• Sample Group Paper Wiki

A sample course wiki can be seen as an alternative format from the blog, still used as a main course information website for students. A professor or student can create a glossary page on a wiki to add definitions when new terminology or jargon surfaces in a class–a handy reference tool. A sample research wiki is again an alternative to a research project blog; your pages such as “proposal,” “bibliography,” and “photos” will instead be linked from the main page. A sample group paper will come into play for a group project in which each student must contribute a portion of the paper; comments can be made by all members on the same wiki without the hassle of arranging a meeting time and place. Feel free to look about in these samples; we’re excited to introduce you to our wikis!

Sample Blogs Finished!

Exciting blog news is brewing at the commons! We are happy to say that 7 sample blogs have been created for your viewing–all manner of blogs for both students and faculty. We’ve also created an extremely handy suggested uses page to help you out with ideas on how what to use your blog for, and what pages to add to your blog once you’ve decided on one.

We’re hoping that our sample blogs will steer you in the right direction, and inspire you to have a blog of your own! We’ve created the following samples for your perusal:

• Community Service Blog

• Faculty Blog

• Student Portfolio Blog

• Research Project Blog

• Special Interest Blog

• Study Abroad Blog

• Thesis Blog

In addition to creating your very own blog space, we are pleased to offer you the chance to also select your own theme and design to customize your blog, which will be created especially for you by our design specialist, Michael Dumlao. Please feel free to peruse these sample blogs and begin to generate ideas about your future blog!

CNDLS Welcomes Josh and Marie to Staff, Digital Commons Project

During the process of creating our sample blogs, we have welcomed two new employees to our staff who are playing a lead role in the process: Josh Sharpe and Marie Selvanadin.

josh1.jpgBringing his degree in Applied Science across the Potomac, Josh joins CNDLS’s development team as a programmer, analyst, and Linux devotee. His ongoing projects include building web applications with the Ruby on Rails framework and otherwise enhancing CNDLS’s web presence. With efficiency on the mind, he creatively applies his technological savvy to a daily host of challenging projects. Nor is Josh one to shy away from challenge— he is a road racing enthusiast and is currently developing a site,, in honor of his passion for cycling. When not on the web or on the road, he can sometimes be found enjoying an open mic session with his acoustic guitar.

marie1.jpgMarie contributes to CNDLS’ technology initiatives as a web application developer. Holding a Master’s Degree in computer science from the Catholic University of America, Marie brings prior experience in web development to our tech team. Prior to joining CNDLS, she served the MISTA Corporation as a web developer, honed her professional technical support skills at The George Washington University, and engaged students as a teaching assistant for MATLAB, where she wrote code to simulate and test algorithms. While working in technical support, Marie managed and oversaw server maintenance, approaches to troubleshooting, and system training. Her thesis was on digital watermarking–a technique used to embed owner information in multimedia files. Marie’s vocational interests include open source projects and computer security, while playing the classical guitar provides a favorite avocational pursuit.

GDC Begins Creation of Sample Blogs

Here at Digital Commons, we’ve recently embarked on the creation of 7 sample blogs to familiarize future blog-users with the capabilities and potential layouts of the blogs we are offering.

On the agenda first are the Sample Student Portfolio, the Sample Faculty Blog, and the Sample Special Interest Blog. The sample student portfolio demonstrates the possibilities and range of options a student has–displaying courses you’re in, your bio, your extracurricular activities, etc., are just a few options. The faculty Blog can extend to research interests, bio, publications, and many more pages. A special interest blog can be initiated by either a student or a professor, and can deal with anything from student clubs to current events. For example, our current sample is a discussion between students of the upcoming presidential election.

Soon to follow are a Sample Study Abroad Blog and a Sample Community Service Blog.

Coming attractions

Are you wishing for a wiki? Excited for an e-portfolio? Desperate for a digital story?

You’ll have them — soon. While not every tool at the Digital Commons is ready to go right now, we plan to have them up and running shortly.

In the meantime, feel free to add yourself to our waitlists so you can be one of the first to access these tools as we launch them. (Consider it like the VIP pass that gets you past the red velvet rope). Click on the icons for each tool on the Digital Commons homepage for instructions on how to add yourself to the waitlists, or email Be sure to include your full name, Georgetown e-mail address and your position at the university (faculty, staff, student).

We will let you know as we launch each new tool, and you can check this blog for news about the development. Thank you for your interest!

How to Make a Page

So, we’ve sold you on a digital commons blog? Fantastic! One of the first things to do when creating blog content is to make pages, and we will walk you through that process here.

  • Your blog will automatically be created with a home page. This is the main page for your blog, and lists all the entries you will make. Visitors will see this page first they surf on to your site, but you can add additional pages to any blog to explain its purpose, to give an extended biography or yourself or other blog authors and editors or to highlight special content.
  • When you first log in to your blog, you will be on a sort of homepage that allows you to create and edit content for your blog, add and remove blog users and otherwise manage what happens on your blog. This page is called your “dashboard.”
  • On your dashboard, there are several tabs running across the front. Click on the tab titled “Write.”
  • Several sub-tabs appear. Click on the one that says “write pages.”
  • In the box that says “page title” give a short title for page (i.e. About This Blog, About Me, Contact Information, Photos, etc.)
  • In the large box below that, you can enter text. You can also add in hyperlinks, or insert images.
  • You can save pages as you work. When you are ready for the page to be visible to your users, click on the “publish” tab. And now, you have a new page!

Questions? You know where to find us: CNDLS at 202.687.0625 or

GDC blogs now available

The first tool we are launching is one of the most popular: the blog.

Perhaps you already are a blogger, or you regularly read blogs for fun. Perhaps you’re not sure what a blog is (and you aren’t sure you care to know). But everyone from technophiles to technophobes can use our service and enjoy the power of the blogosphere. Used in the educational context, blogs offer many benefits: they can be a space for discussing core concepts outside the classroom, a way of displaying and documenting intellectual growth or a showcase for an important project.

Faculty, staff and students can all have a blog. If you want one, click on the “blogs” icon on the Digital Commons home page, and follow the instructions you see.

Just please remember that blogs are public and shared with the whole community, so blog responsibly (if you are confused as to what “responsibly” means, think of it like this: if you wouldn’t want grandma or one of your superiors at work to read it, don’t blog it!)

As always, we are here to help you with new tools. So, if you have questions about blogging or are experiencing problems with the blog request form, please contact CNDLS at 202.687.0625 or