It's Diablogical!
A Collaborative Diablog on Feminist Pedagogy
A diablog assignment

Hey KCF. It’s Thursday afternoon and I’m sitting at our regular table at 3 Tiers, remembering all of the great discussions that we had here over the summer. Before I eat my fabulous “devil’s food cupcake with mocha buttercream frosting,” I thought I would take a minute (okay, a few minutes) to offer up some reflections on the diablog assignment that I have been trying out in my queering desire class this semester.

Here’s a rundown of the assignment:

To foster connections between our online and offline engagements, to help us to cultivate our class community, and to give you even more opportunity to shape the class, you and 2-3 classmates will lead us in a mini diablog about the readings. Our discussion will begin the week of October 12/14.

WHO? 4 students per group

WHAT? Engage in an online and in-class discussion of the reading for the assigned week.


  • Post 4 reflective blogs posts on reading by Sunday
  • Engage in a dialogue through comments, more blog posts, live-tweet dialogues on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Present on process/findings to class on Thursday of the week
  • Post summary of process by Monday of the following week


  • To contribute to the larger archive of our blog
  • Develop more effective understandings of the readings and queer/ing desire
  • Learn from each other

WHEN? Sign-up for a week between October 14/16 – December 7/9. Here’s an overview of a sample week:

Sunday Carefully read assigned essay, each member posts initial blog entry
Mon/Tues/Weds Engage in online dialogue with other group members
Thursday Present findings to class
Monday Post summary of the diablog experience as group on our blog

For their Mon/Tues/Weds online dialogue, they can post comments or more entries. They can also tweet at each other. Or do a combination up all three.

Here are a few of the reasons why I created the assignment:

1. To make visible the process of thinking through a reading. Inspired by It’s Diablogical, I wanted to experiment with how students can make visible their process of thinking/working through difficult texts. I imagined that this visibility might not only enable the diabloging students to “expose” or reveal their own ways of reading and knowing, but it could also give other students more models for how to engage.

2. To make visible the process of doing a group project. I frequently assign group projects. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. A few consistent problems include: a. one student doing all of the work, b. each student doing their own work but never talking or planning with each other, c. no planning or strategic thinking through how to develop presentation. I imagined that this online diablog, and the ways in which it makes the planning process visible, might require students to be accountable for their project and presentation. Since all (well, at least most) of the work is posted on the blog or on twitter, you can clearly see who is engaging and who isn’t.

3. To develop a way for students to engage in group projects with their busy and complicated schedules. One reason that group projects often fail is because students don’t have the time to get together. It can be very difficult for all of them to physically meet to discuss the readings or plan the assignment. With an online diablog, they can engage when they have time and from wherever they are (as long as they have access to a smartphone or computer).

(short pause in order to eat my cupcake)


My thoughts so far:

I’m really enjoying this assignment. I have been very impressed with how the students have been so willing to do the assignment and have experimented with different ways of imagining it. As I mentioned above, built into the assignment is a lot of flexibility about how to “do” the diablog. Each group has done it a little differently. The first group did a live-tweet. The second group had a conversation through comments on each other’s blogs. The third group created an open thread. And, the group that went today did comments and an open thread (what they described as a “brainstorm” session).

Here’s what one student as written about the assignment so far:

On the whole. I would say that the interactivity of the diablog was what made it for me. Blogging, tweeting, emailing, calling, texting, failed live-tweeting (on our group’s part), reading and engaging all came together in a mishmash that was actually pretty great to work through. It was definitely work, though. I really had to consciously log into the blog more than once a day (which was a lot more than I’d been doing before) and also keep Twitter open, which I hadn’t really done at all. But I loved seeing people comment on our blog posts and to see a twinkle of the possibilities for discussing, engaging, hooking people into conversation, and also the difficulties of it–the potential for (mis)interpretation of text and missed live-tweet dates.

And another:

Overall, our diablog went really well and flowed very smoothly. This type of forum for group work is exceptionally conducive for busy students. It was so much easier to be able to engage in our readings solo and then engage with each other on our own time. There was no need to figure out meeting times outside of the classroom, which would have been a challenge for all of us. The open thread on the blog site was a fantastic way for each of us to engage with each other, which allowed for a richer and more in depth understanding of our reading.

Of course this assignment isn’t perfect. I have much more to say about how it is working/not working. (And I’m sure that I will even have more to say after the semester is over). Right now I’m slowly slipping into a sugar coma; that cupcake was good…maybe too good.

3 Comments to “A diablog assignment”

  1. KCF says:

    SLP! This assignment looks great! I love how you included the student feedback in there too. That’s awesome. I really like the open-ended aspect of the initial assignment and the many ways that your students interpreted the Diablogical framework. Really cool stuff!

    Oh, and thanks for making me miss you and 3 Tiers cupcakes!

  2. KCF says:

    PS: Just looked through the links that you had for their projects and I’m quite impressed. I think from an outsider’s perspective some of them were quite confusing in the sense that I didn’t understand what some of their links or references were to or how the many different layers of multiple blogs/course blog/twitter all interacted in a way that I could understand as someone on the outside looking in.

    On the other hand, Group Three referenced a short cartoon/film called “Tomboy” which is great! That was made by a friend of mine I know through NACCS/MALCS who is an amazing educator of educators. I also showed that film to my class earlier in the semester because of the figure of the Chicana tomboy. I wanted to add in my two cents to your students but couldn’t sign in – but I think there is a significant analysis to be made about the non-conforming student of color and how gender is not this unmarked white category even while the students are discussing a Latina category or Malaysian bullying they seem to not include an intersectional analysis or attend to the ways that race and class (along other identity categories) affect the policing (and consequently the experience) of what happens in terms of gender bullying.

  3. SLP says:

    Thanks for your comments! Your thought about how confusing it is as an outsider is helpful. In future versions of this assignment, I think I need to emphasize how their entries should be understandable by a wide range of audiences–including ones who haven’t read the essay or aren’t in the class. Doing so might encourage them to be more explicit with their summaries/topics.

    That’s a bummer that you couldn’t sign in. I will need to check into that. I wonder if I have accidentally closed comments to all non U of M addresses? Hmm…I think you raise an important point about the Chicana tomboy and the need for intersectional analysis. It can be a struggle to get the class to talk about race and class in relation to sexuality. Sometimes it can be a struggle to talk about the readings at all–I wonder if I am assigning too many? I think we could have (maybe should have) spent a whole class discussing the tomboy video. So much to discuss. We just ran out of time.