Sunday, March 13, 2005

Evaluating Blogging

For those of you who actually read this blog, I would like to remind you that a few days ago I was discussing how far to go in encouraging students to blog. I commented on Dennis Jerz' rubric and said it was a little to rigid for me. Well, I got a nice comment to that post from him, and I would like to address it here.

Dennis said, among other things,
I wrote that list because students in some of my gen-ed classes were clamoring to know how I would evaluate their blogging.
Good point. Our students, especially the ones who are required to be in our classes and are, therefore, required to blog or do whatever else we ask of them, are generally going to be concerned about the grade they get - possibly even more concerned about the grade than about what they learn. (DISCLAIMER: I know that is an overgeneralization, but bear with me, please!) It is only fair, in that situation, to give students an idea of what we expect. They would have a hard time with our saying something like, "Well, I want you to explore the materials presented in the course on your blog and find relevant material out here on the web to link to. I also want you to contribute your thoughts and ideas to your classmates by commenting on their blogs." OK, we can tell them that, and probably do, but they are still going to want to know how this affects their grade.

Dennis goes on to say
You're right -- the students who get the most out of blogging aren't the ones who stop writing when they've met the criteria.

So the rubric I posted is more instructional/formative (helping the student get the most out of blogging) than it is descriptive/evaluative (helping me to evaluate).

This is what I was trying to get at in my post. Students need to be required to do a certain amount of blogging in order to get used to the whole idea of writing online and to develop the habit. Looking at it from that angle, Dennis' rubric seems to be quite good. He spells out exactly what he expects, and he expects enough that students will have an informed opinion of blogging by the end of it.

He continues
I like to think that my rubric is flexible enough to encourage the devoted blogger to put in extra time.

Obviously, someone who wants to blog more will blog more. Blogging, by its very nature, allows for that. By leaving it somewhat open as he does, students have choice - which is critical, I think.

So, I guess maybe I shouldn't have used the word "rigidity" when referring to Dennis' rubric. There is flexibility in it. So what is there about it that bothered me? In re-reading it now, I think the detail in it seemed overwhelming. He was just covering all his bases, I know. And he obviously has more experience with it than I do. At any rate, I apologize if I offended Dennis or anyone else by my comments. It wasn't my intention.

I truly love the way blogs allow me to learn from and share with people around the world with people I don't "know". Blogging gives us so much so easily. I admire the educators, like Dennis and Barbara and Anne, who are trying their best to share this medium with their students. There is no magic formula yet, and maybe there never will be. In the meantime we can all get out there and read each others' blogs and link to them and share the knowledge and ideas that are out there. Thanks, Dennis, for taking the time to make me look at this again.

4 comments:

Bee said...

I have been trying to use rubrics with my students as well but I admit it is not always very easy to balance control and freedom.

This is what I have come up with for my 10th and 11th graders (4 to 5 years of EFL)
I have about 50 students who have opened blogs this year...they are required to post at least 200 words a week - one reflective post on what they have learnt and they may also add other posts not related to class showing their exposure to the language.

For the time being, narratives of their daily routine or quick comments on films/songs are more frequent than reflective writing.

Not an easy task to follow all...but it'll be interesting to see how they develop throughout the semester.

Dennis G. Jerz said...

I do sometimes feel that the aggregating nature of e-text means that I say *more* in order to explain, when if I worked harder I could offer a better explanation in *fewer* words.

Perhaps I could split that document up into two sections the overview, which guides the student over the course of the semester, and a detailed view, which guides the student as he/she prepares to submit the portfolio.

It's like Mark Twain said... if I'd had the time, I'd have written a shorter book. But I'm glad my own effort has launched some discussion. I certainly wasn't offended -- there's nothing wrong with disagreement when it prompts discussion.

Dennis G. Jerz said...

I do sometimes feel that the aggregating nature of e-text means that I say *more* in order to explain, when if I worked harder I could offer a better explanation in *fewer* words.

Perhaps I could split that document up into two sections the overview, which guides the student over the course of the semester, and a detailed view, which guides the student as he/she prepares to submit the portfolio.

It's like Mark Twain said... if I'd had the time, I'd have written a shorter book. But I'm glad my own effort has launched some discussion. I certainly wasn't offended -- there's nothing wrong with disagreement when it prompts discussion.

Dennis G. Jerz said...

Oops, pardon the double post -- feel free to delete.