Blogging New Jersey History (20% of final grade)
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The class will contribute to a blog, Researching New Jersey History, writing two substantial posts, and commenting on at least six posts by others.

Joining

You will receive an invitation to join the Researching New Jersey History blog at the start of the semester. You will need to establish a WordPress.com account (free) if you do not already have one. If you do not receive an invitation or if you already have a WordPress.com account attached to a different (non-WPU) e-mail account, please contact Cathy directly and provide your WordPress user name.

Develop Your Professional Voice

When you search for your name in a web browser, what do you find? As you start your career, first as graduate students and later as professional historians, archivists, and educators, you will build an online body of work that may be the first thing that people learn about you. It is never too early to start thinking about crafting your presence on the web, to develop a web persona that is professional and uniquely yours. Your voice should be consistent whether you are writing posts or commenting on the posts of others.

Blogging Basics

Blog posts should not read the same way that scholarly papers read. Your goals should be to engage an audience, made up of both class members and the general public, to impart some information on the history of New Jersey, and to attract readers and comments.

Here are some helpful articles and sites on writing blogs and comments:

Promoting your posts

It doesn't matter if your posts are great if no one reads them. After you publish your posts, promote them with social media tools to increase the number of views and comments from outside the class. You can see the blog's statistics from the administrative panel to see how you are doing.

Extra credit will be given to the authors of each month's most popular posts - awarded on March 20, and April 24.

Assignment Requirements

  1. Join the blog and post a biography page with an illustration by Week 4 (Feb. 6). Provide your background and interests so that readers of your posts get a sense about who you are.
  2. Post two extended posts, of at least 500 words. Post one by Week 6 (Feb. 27), another by Week 11 (Apr. 3). Your extended posts may be on any of the following themes:
    • A tutorial on how to do research related to New Jersey History. Examples might be explaining how to find and use census records, how to locate church records for New Jersey residents, how to find images of buildings for different time periods.
    • An interesting bit of New Jersey history that you learned about in the course of your research. Here you might provide information on the larger context for your exhibit, discussing New Jersey in the the Revolutionary War, or the Great Depression or art scene to tell the story of an event or provide a short biography of an interesting character that was not the central theme of your exhibit. You could post about discussion of the various neighborhoods and trace the history of their names and characters over time.
    • An interesting digital history tool. Explain its goals, how you think it works or doesn't work for historians, and how it can be used to study New Jersey. Choose from the tools below or find your own:
    • An interesting web-based resource. Explain the resource and how you used it for your project. Please do not choose bad resources in order to review them negatively. The point here is to offer help and advice on good resources.
    • An interesting print resource. This can take the form of a short book review. Explain the resource and provide examples of how it is useful for conducting research on New Jersey. Please do not choose bad resources in order to review them negatively. The point here is to offer help and advice on good resources.
  3. Read posts made by others and rate them 1-5 for quality (this is anonymous).
  4. Promote your posts the week after you post them to try to get the most views.

Grading Criteria

Basics

Were posts completed? Were they completed on time? Were they the right length or longer? Were the posts well-written? Did they contain typographical errors? Did all links work?

Content

Were the posts informative? Were arguments well-reasoned? Do they relate to research on New Jersey History? Do they contain links to additional information? Do they contain images?

Promotion

Did people read your post? How well were you able to promote your own posts?
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