Note: This entry is a guest post by Brian Jenkins, a columnist for BrainTrack.com. It’s an interesting one for me (Rosemary) because I just finished teaching my first class in which blog posting and commenting was an integral part of students’ work. It worked well for my goal of having them review each other’s writing, but I will need to adjust my instructions to students about how to interact with each other using the blog. Just one more example of how the teaching matters more than the tool! But I digress. On to Brian’s post…
Use Blogs to Engage Your Students and Improve the Learning Process
Ruth Reynard, Associate Professor of Education and the Director of the Center for Instructional Technology at Trevecca Nazarene University, believes that “The blog’s biggest strength is in the development and authentication of the student voice in learning.” Blogs provide an opportunity for an open exchange of ideas and shared understanding.
Blogs can be used to increase student participation. Students are able to read their fellow classmates’ blog posts and comment on what they have to say. With a blog, unlike a discussion board, it’s the students’ environment – they can take their time to say what they want to say. When used as a tool for reflection, blogs let students write at length about their own experiences as learners.
David Wiley, an Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University, has students post their written work to a blog before they submit it to him. Soon, students began receiving comments from other students as well as from faculty members at other institutions and professionals from around the world. The additional feedback greatly improves their work.
Professors can post news items, case studies, or subjects for commentary in a class blog. Students are able to post comments on the material presented in class, and other students can then comment on these. Students become more invested in their work through blogging and are therefore more engaged in the class material.
Establish a Purpose for the Blog
Stuart Glogoff, senior consultant in the Office of Instruction and Assessment at the University of Arizona, stated, “Students need to see a purpose for the blog, and they need guidelines for entries and comments. In the cases where faculty have incorporated blogs without establishing their purpose, student participation has been uniformly low.”
Blogging Course Requirement
Gardner Campbell of the Division of Learning Technologies at Virginia Tech makes blogging a corse requirement, not an assignment. The blog is graded as a participation component of the course. Students are not told what to write and they don’t have to meet a specific word count. Campbell believes blogging encourages students to truly write what they understand about a particular subject instead of writing what they think a professor wants them to write.
Campbell stated, “Because blogging is so malleable, it’s a wonderful platform for creativity.” Blogging encourages a higher level of reasoning because the focus is more on the process of constructing and evaluating knowledge.
Some professors believe blogging works best when it’s blended into the curriculum, so the blog posts are an extension of classroom discussions and an inspiration for future conversations in the classroom.
Blogs provide opportunities for shy students to share their thoughts with classmates and their professors. It’s also easier for students to create coherent thoughts in writing. Students can take time to think about what they want to write. They can revise their words before posting them, which makes what they have to say more organized and more representative of their thought process when compared to speaking in a class.
Blogs are increasingly used by professors throughout the world to enhance the learning process. Posting their thoughts online is a part of college students’ lives anyway, and blogs are a great way to get them more involved in the class.
Brian Jenkins writes about many different college and career topics for BrainTrack.com.