Some people say that with the emergence of microblogging (think Twitter), actual blogs and feed readers have become a thing of the past. And, while for some it is certainly true, I can’t help but feeling that blogs can still be useful (but then again, I am a little biased).
While you may write or follow a number of blogs for recreation, you can, believe it or not, use them in your college classrooms. Some believe that when students share their thoughts with others in the blogsophere, not only do the take the task more seriously than normal assignments, but are much more meticulous about their writing (and as you know, we’re all about writing in the classroom).
So, thinking about incorporating blogs into your classroom? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
First things first! There are tons of free blogging platforms out there. Find one that you like and have your students do the same. Some suggestions: Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, TextPattern, and Movable Type. Once you and your students have set up your own blogs, follow each other via an RSS feed or another feed reader (may favorite is Google Reader). Then, get to work!
Collect paperless assignments. Students write differently when they know a group of their peers, not just their professors, will be reading what they write. Instead of collecting written assignments during or at the end of class, have students post them on their personal blogs where both you and their peers can view them.
Have students keep class journals. They can reflect on the lecture, whether it be after every class period or once a week, to show how much they are actually taking in. Encourage students to read other students’ entries and leave comments pointing out holes or missed concepts, or explaining why they agree.
Do you offer extra credit? Try posting EC assignments on your blog, along with other bits of interesting information your students might like to read. Only the student who take the time to check out what you’re posting will get the points (though, it’s been my experience that the students that actually go the extra mile to find extra credit opportunities aren’t the ones who need it)!
Encourage interaction between students. Get your students to interact by having them read each others blog entries and leave comments. Sometimes it’s easier to discuss things with other students than it is to strike up a conversation with a professor. The nice thing about blogs when it comes to communicating? You can see everything that happens, if you take the time read what’s going on, and step in when students seem to be misunderstanding certain points.
Class supplements. If you’re always finding great stuff in the news and in the world around you that applies to your classes, post them on your blog. Not only will students in future semesters be able to access them, but any time your students want to read up on some interesting things or brush up on topics relating to class, they are just a few click away from doing just that.
Start (or end) conversations for class. Want to get students thinking before class starts? While they should be doing this anyway (reading up in the text, completing assignments, etc.), post something interesting, funny, or thought-provoking before class and tell them to be prepared to discuss it during your next meeting.
Student portfolios. Encourage students to use their blogs to show off what they are capable of. Suggest they make a simple page on which to post resume items (educational background, job experience, etc.) along with some examples of their best work.
What are some other ways you can use blogs in the college classroom? Share with us in the comments!