Blogs for Teaching
Parent Page(s): Collaboration and Discussion
Encourage student sharing, collaboration and reflection.
Blogging is a simple way for students to publish and share almost any kind of work online, including text, pictures, documents, podcasts and videos. This replacement of paper-based class assignments with digital blogging, encourages more peer interactions, collaborations and discussions. Blogs can easily be integrated into your course in a number of ways.
How do Blogs work?
A blog is a publishing tool that allows individuals or groups to easily post and manage content on the web. Although blogs commonly display content in reverse chronological order, blogging tools have evolved to where alternative display options are now possible. Blogging is the easiest platform for students to share their work online, facilitating student communication, collaborations and interactions. Blogging typically works like this:
Create content and post it to a shared class, or individual blog.
Publish to share.
When ready, publish your writing to share with others.
Read and comment.
Read and comment on other students’ blog posts.
How Are UBC Arts Instructors Using Blogs?
Laurie McNeill from English and Arts Studies uses scholarly blogs
"Learning to blog at the same time that students are learning academic writing also reinforces the idea that...
Aim Sinpeng in Political Science uses blogs for online engagement
"Blogging is a great way to increase student interaction with the class materials as well as current events."
Christina Hendricks in Philosophy uses blogs as a course site to share student work
"The work students do in my courses can also be very valuable to others who want to learn...
John Paul Catungal in GRSJ integrates blogs and Google Maps for students to contribute to an interactive project
I wanted students to be able to apply what they were learning to the local context within...
How can Blogs help me?
Blogs provide an online space for students to share their work and comment on that of their peers. Because blog posts can include text, images and other media, they are an ideal tool to publish a wide range of web content. Most importantly, commenting on blog posts enables the formation of a community of writers and readers who are able to actively engage with each other’s work. There are many styles of blogs, beyond the single author journal type; a group blog allows students to share and discuss course material with other class members; a portfolio blog lets students highlight their individual work; a showcase site blog displays images and media; and a link blog is a space for sharing and annotating web resources.
- Readers and writers engage with each other through comments.
- Multiple authors and readers can contribute to content.
- Customizable look and feel.
- User-friendly text editor to create content.
- Quick and easy to post and manage online content.
- RSS feature allows readers to subscribe to feeds and be notified when new content is posted.
- Tagging posts helps with organizing and searching content.
- Students learn the basic web literacy skills involved in creating and organizing online content.
- By default, posts and comments are presented in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent entry posted at the top.
- Unlike the CCanvas threaded “discussion board” style, blog content is displayed as posts and comments, making it difficult to organize discussions hierarchically, instead of chronologically.
How can Blogs help improve student learning?
Studies show that blogs promote learning in numerous ways:
- Develop writing, literary and analytical skills.
- Encourage critical thinking.
- Allow peer learning through sharing ideas and collaborative interactions.
- Promote creative thinking by incorporating images, videos and podcasts into writing.
- Provide an authentic, engaged audience for student writing.
Ideas for Using Blogs
Instructors have used blogs in a variety of ways, including:
Self-reflection: Comments and feedback from their instructors and peers give students the opportunity to self-reflect on their own experiences and learning processes.
Peer Review/Feedback: Peer responses encourage students to examine their ideas and understand multiple perspectives, part of the critical thinking process. Feedback also helps writers identify their strengths and areas needing improvement.
Collaboration: With blogs, students can easily work on assignments in groups and share their completed projects with the rest of the class. Blogging can replace or complement in-class discussions, as the format allows students to research and formulate their responses, prior to contributing. The PulsePress theme on UBC blogs, for example, is a real-time discussion space that can also be used for in-class activities.
E-Portfolio/Online Journal: Blogs work well as a space for students to document and share their progress, reflections and learning journeys.
Connecting/Resource Sharing: Blogs enable sharing content beyond individual classes, making possible interactions with other courses and other programs or disciplines. Blogs can also be opened to the public, expanding student audiences and encouraging students to engage with a wider community.
Tips for using Blogs in your class
- Do not assume students are familiar with blogging. Providing a technical orientation session at the beginning of class may improve student comfort-level with the tool and ensure that the system works smoothly for assignments.
- Consider the goals of your blogging activity and choose an appropriate blogging platform for your students to use (ie. UBC Blogs, Blogger, WordPress).
- Before setting up a blog, decide whether it should be private, open or accessible to specific groups.
- Communicate to students the reason and purpose for the decision to use blogs. Many students are resistant to having anyone other than the instructor read their writing. Contextualize the use of blogs so that students are more likely to see the sharing aspect as beneficial to their learning process.
- Clarify expectations for student contributions to discussions (e.g., specify the number of blog posts or comments that should be made each week). Students may view blogging as an additional workload. It may be helpful to articulate how blogging will enhance their academic experience.
Getting Started with UBC Blogs
UBC Blogs: UBC blogs is a campus wide WordPress platform available for faculty, staff, and students, at no cost. It is similar to WordPress.com, but with CWL controlled access, limiting it to UBC Instructors and students (although anyone can read and comment on public blogs). This platform allows greater customization options, such as backgrounds, header images and themes. In addition, UBC Blogs can be made publicly visible or kept private to specific groups.
- Log into UBC Blogs with a valid CWL account. Once authorized you will be directed to the blogs sign up page.
- Enter a username and e-mail address. From here you can either choose to be a UBC Blog account holder or choose to create a blog.