I have never felt adept at Tumblr. I just don’t get it. Enough people like it for me to believe that there must be something there; but whatever it is, I don’t quite connect with it. To look for answers, I attended that Computers and Writing workshop, “When You Find a Great Meme to Post for Your Assignment: Tumblr as a Multimodal Writing and Community Space in the Composition Classroom.” I gained some pointers, but honestly, I still couldn’t understand what Tumblr offers that wasn’t already available with tools I already used.
As I was preparing for my presentation on social media for the Council of Writing Program Administrators Conference (#CWPA2017) earlier this month, I was looking for a way to share example sites that met several goals:
- Hosted on a trustworthy site (and not one I owned)
- Has no cost
- Incorporates screenshot images easily
- Publishes entries easily (since I would have many)
- Allows a system of tagging or similar option to sort entries on various criteria
I was essentially thinking of a simple database, but I didn’t want to program or host it. I went through a number of tools, but everything had some problem—until I came to Tumblr.
Tumblr met all my goals. I remembered, as I was testing it, that the workshop leaders, Meg McGuire and Jen England, had mentioned that one of the things people liked most about Tumblr was its rich tagging system. I quickly began gathering examples of the online presence of writing programs and writing centers for my #CWPA2017 presentation in my own Tumblr blog, Social Media for WPAs.
The homepage of Social Media for WPAs felt a little busy to me, with its Pinterest-style grid layout. To provide a simpler organization, I created a Categories page, which lists my folksonomic tags under a few headers. Clicking on any of the tags on the Categories page takes you to a page that shows only the entries that demonstrate that particular tag. For example, if you click the Instagram tag, you get a page showing examples of writing programs or centers that use Instagram.
As I worked on my Social Media for WPAs site, I realized how valuable Tumblr would be in the writing classroom. I could use a similar system of tagging to organize online examples or readings for students. If I was teaching students about blogging, for instance, I could gather examples of different kinds of entries and collect them on a Tumblr blog. Likewise, students doing online research could do the same thing, tracking what they find in a Tumblr blog.
Using Tumblr, it turned out, was easy, and it provided exactly what I needed. Perhaps I finally get Tumblr. Do you? If you have ideas to share for using Tumblr, I would love to hear from you in the comments.
Photo Credit: Workshop on Tumblr in the classroom by tengrrl