Saturday, July 30, 2005

As the new semester approaches...

I find myself at the point of trying to work out what my students and I are going to do. I want blogging to be part of it, so I was interested to read first James Farmer's post How NOT to use blogs in education, in which he says
Almost invariably the first thing people do when encountering new technologies is to try and get it to do what the technologies they are used to do and this is no exception when it comes to blogs.
Good insight and something I want to remember. So, he says not to try to use blogs as a discussion board, and he doesn't like group blogs at all.

More good insight on what NOT to do can be found over at The Blog of Proximal Development, where he says
Do not use blogs to replace writing or reader-response journals. If the only goal is to get students to write online what they would otherwise put in their notebooks, it's probably not worth the hassle. Blogs can do much, much more. Use blogs to enhance personal journals. Take advantage of the community-building potential. Let students work as a group of individual writers.

I think their advice is good, but I am not sure where it leaves me. Fortunately, James Farmer follows up with a post How you SHOULD use blogs in education He makes one point that I find quite useful. He says
You must incorporate blogs as key, task driven, elements of your course.
It sounds almost obvious, but I don't think it is.

So here I am trying to find a reason for my students to blog rather than journal and a way to make blogging a key part of my class. Interestingly enough, I think I can find more reasons to blog in my reading class than in my writing class. But maybe I just need to put more thought into it. As I said, I am just getting to the point of actually trying to figure it all out for the fall.

Would anyone care to share how they are going to use blogs in the fall?

1 comment:

Anne Davis said...

Hi Nancy,

I'm not sure if this would work for you but what about if your students wrote about issues they care about, interests, topics that might bring responses from outside community? The writings could be short or long as they deemed fit but you could have them use the skills you are teaching. They could give their opinions and then invite others to respond. You could have them initially respond to others in your class.