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Eight strategies for using blogs in a course

November 19, 2010

Flickr photo by Florian Leroy

I have probably already shared that I am a blog convert. Originally unimpressed with the power of this medium, I have grown over time to value its place in the technology toolbox. Blogs provide an easy way to compose an ongoing series of writings and receive comments on them, while at the same time publishing a customized basic website with pages of static content.

Like my former self, most people have a preconceived list of circumstances under which they believe blogs may be valuable – and in some cases that list is pretty short. This article aims to help folks broaden that list. It might even give you an idea for a strategy that uses a blog to meet a need in a course that you teach.

Strategies for using blogs in a course

  1. Academic reflection – students react to readings, in a sort of online “book club.” In one political science course students wrote about daily reading in the NY Times.
  2. Regular journaling – students make regular entries in a purposeful online diary. Some experiences lend themselves nicely to this, like study abroad or a service project.
  3. Creative writing – foreign language students alternate writing paragraphs for a progressive story. In one English class, each student had a semi-private blog, where they shared poem drafts.
  4. Peer review – students comment on their classmates’ writing. This works best when there are specific criteria to follow, perhaps in the form of a rubric.
  5. Other writing – there are many writing-centered possibilities. In one course, students summarized arguments in newspaper editorials. In another, they mimicked a particular style of writing.
  6. Collaborative work – in a blog with multiple authors, each group member can alternate responsibility for posting weekly status updates
  7. Course portfolio – in my own course, students post a variety of work in multiple media. In other courses they might provide samples of different kinds of writing.
  8. Information sharing – faculty members can use a blog to publish a course syllabus, links to useful resources, and a bibliography. Students can post course-related articles, images, and videos.

Surely there are many additional good ideas and examples. Please share your own strategies, experiences and links in a comment!

NOTE: This post coincides with a session I am presenting at Notre Dame, “Blogs for Teaching.” Choose Workshop on the blog menu to see an outline, slides, links, and a handout.

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