[CITASA] using blogs with your courses

Piotr Konieczny piokon at post.pl
Thu Oct 22 15:46:37 EDT 2009


Howard Welser wrote:
 > Does anyone here have experience using blogs with students?

I was in one class that used a blog few years ago, and I have fond 
memories of it.

Here's my blog from the past:
http://pioflog.blogspot.com/
Note the class was a grad class, set up for ~10 students, each of us had 
their own blog (they are linked from a sidepanel in my blog if anybody 
wants to check them out; note that the course instructor had a blog of 
his own as well).

I am currently experimenting with teaching an undergrad class of 50 
students, they are all contributing to one blog:
http://da1globsoc09.blogspot.com/
I explain the assignment in my introductory post
http://da1globsoc09.blogspot.com/2009/08/introduction-to-blog.html
One blog makes it easier to coordinate and grade students actions (but 
note that Blogger has a limit of 100 editors per blog). What to do with 
100+ editor classes - I am not sure, but I'd probably use a forum or a 
wiki* instead of a blog in this case. That said, if one has TAs to help, 
the approach may be different.

The reason I am using blog is that I wanted to update the old syllabus I 
was given (which required students to post mini essays on a courseweb 
forum). Courseweb is not very user friendly and is not something the 
students will ever run into again in their lives (unless they become 
teachers...), so why not introduce them to the 21st century and blogs 
(and yes, quite a few of them are not that familiar with blogs...) which 
are and likely will be a part of cyberspace mainstream for years to come?

Regarding some arguments mentioned by others, I do think that the blogs 
should be public. If one wants to hold a private discussion, blogs are 
not the right medium - I'd suggest creating a closed wiki or forum 
instead (again, preferably not on Courseweb - it's cumbersome to use). 
My driving philosophy ere is: the more realistic experience in the 
classroom, resembling the tools they may find in their workplace in the 
future, the better. And private blogs are (as far as I know) rare both 
on the net and in the workplaces (while private forums are more common 
online, and private wikis are common in workplaces).

Will the students be less inventive because they are afraid to write on 
a public forum? Interesting point, but one that can be counteracted by 
the use of nicknames, first names, initials and such, all of which 
ensure at least a moderate modicum of online privacy. As a 
counterargument to why make it public, I think the students may be more 
motivated to write creatively on a public forum, as they can try to 
attract real world attention and create a real digital artifact they can 
come back to later or show off to friends. It does seem like a double 
edged sword, certainly, but I think that when combined with some form of 
anonymity the benefits should outweigh the costs. I am now off to read 
Andrea's thoughts (thanks Amy for linking them!).

*I've been using wikis for my courses much more often than blogs. For 
those interested in teaching with wikis, check out my article at 
http://itdl.org/Journal/Jan_07/article02.htm (I am now slowly working on 
a follow up paper to it).

-- 
Piotr Konieczny

"The problem about Wikipedia is, that it just works in reality, not in 
theory."




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