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.
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.
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.
Tips for using Blogs in your class
- Do not assume students are familiar with blogging. Provide a technical orientation session at the beginning of class.
- 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.
- Clarify expectations for student contributions to discussions (e.g., specify the number of blog posts or comments that should be made each week).
- Time: Some technical training is required to become familiar with the blogging system. Student comfort-level is often dependant on how smoothly the system works for assignments (particularly when marks are involved).
- Student Attitude: 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.
- Student Workload: Students may view blogging as an additional workload. It may be helpful to articulate how blogging will enhance their academic experience.