Student blogging can create valuable learning opportunities. Blogs can provide students the chance to work on particular skills like writing, audience analysis, or critical thinking, or engage a text or project in an asynchronous, low-stakes manner. They give students a medium to engage classmates and allow the instructor to informally evaluate student comprehension before class begins. However, to facilitate student learning, instructors need to use blogs properly. Below I’ve listed some tips to maximize student learning.
- Write a prompt for each blog.
- Set a due date that gives students time to respond to one another’s blogs.
- Require students to respond to one another’s blogs.
- Set quality and quantity guidelines i.e. two paragraphs that analyze the salient point with evidence from the text.
- Grade every blog, every time. (I usually assign a point value to each blog and student response and just add them up as I go. And I give extra credit to good blogs. )
- Integrate the information from the blogs into your lectures. (Give a student a shout out for a good blog or even invite him or her to start class discussion.)
- Blogs are iterative and essentially collaborative (i.e. everyone’s reading everyone else’s blog), so one or two good bloggers can raise the bar for the class, and one or two bad bloggers can drag the class down.
- Use Blackboard for student blogs if possible.
- Blackboard allows you to give student grades. They see their grade go up with each blog which encourages them to write the next blog.
- You also have the opportunity to give students private feedback on Blackboard, so if their blogs aren’t quite up to snuff, you can let them know. Blogs are an iterative process, so if they don’t initially do well, they have the opportunity to improve.
- Blackboard will count blogs and comments for you.
- Blackboard will keep track of the grade and just put it in the grade sheet, if you set it up properly.
- And the blogs will only be available to the class which creates a safe place to write and keeps crazy outsiders from making inappropriate comments or using student information for nefarious purposes.
- Blackboard won’t allow students to post video (or at least it hasn’t in the past) or audio files so it may not work for every situation. SEUfolios will allow multi-modal media and let students manipulate the format, so it might work for those assignments.
Note: WordPress Blogs are also available to St. Edward’s University, faculty, students, and staff through http://sites.stedwards.edu/blogs/ These sites can be set up as individual blogs or a group of blogs can be set up for a class. Contact Instructional Technology for more information.
References: Image available from Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blog_(1).jpg