Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Blogging for education

Blogging is a powerful tool for any communication and it is certainly not just for journalists. In my view, every class should have at least one blog. If the students can maintain the content, it cuts down on educator's time commitment.

Most blogging sites provide an e-mail interface, where the content for a new post can just be e-mailed to the blog server and it takes care of the actual posting part of the process. So, the time commitment isn't huge to begin with, but if the students can help write the posts, then it does more than just communicate messages.

There are many applications of blogging for education. For example, a blog can be used to:
  • Remind students about upcoming targets
  • Provide brief summaries of course material
  • Solicit feedback from students
  • Provide exam reviews
  • and more...
In the simplest cases the educator himself/herself could use the blog to provide reminders about upcoming exams/assignments or to provide brief overviews on chapters/lessons.

To get more mileage from a blog however, the wheel has to be turned over to the students. Perhaps as part of class participation points, the students could be asked to write on such topics as "How to stay motivated about school", "How to prepare for an exam."

Yet at another level, the students could be given a topic to research and then write a blog post about their findings. In order to cover larger ground of course material, each student should be given a separate topic to tackle. The blog content can then be used for exam reviews.

I have maintained a blog for my class for a couple of years, and I find it to be a valuable resource that allows me to craft the end product without making a big sacrifice of time. In many cases, it is simply a matter of cut-and-paste along with some simple formatting to create a blog post.

Recently, however, I have asked my students to also write blog posts. I see many advantages of involving the students:
  • Students feel a sense of connection with the blog, as it is now their creation.
  • Having students research a topic and then write about it, provides a large collection of review material for upcoming exams.
  • It helps students with their writing skills.
  • I learn more about my students, their goals and strategies.
  • Students also get to know each other a little better
  • ...and the list doesn't stop here...
I'm sure I've missed a few important points from this list, but there is no doubt that this provides an opportunity for students to get involved more than just the basic classwork/homework cycle. I would love to hear about your experiences with Blogging for Education...

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