Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Using blogs for classes

Tomorrow I am meeting with faculty who are interested in using blogs for their class. I consulted with Danielle Ryan, resident blog expert, who suggested the following options:
  1. Use one Google blog (this blog is in Google Blogger) that all students can post in as themselves. The professor would create the blog and invite the students as authors. Under Settings - Permission, the admin (professor) could type in the students' email addresses to invite them (they could be copied and pasted from the D2L email area). The students would need to login using a Google account. I'd recommend a test post before an assignment is due to make sure it all goes as anticipated. You can see below this post that I logged in and posted using another Google account (Lirpa Nosreip, which is April Pierson backwards) so this is how you'd see who posted what. You could also require them to add their name in the title of the post.
  2. Have all the students create their own blog. If they are all in Google Blogger, everyone can subscribe to each others' blogs in the Blogger Dashboard. They would all just have to share their URL, maybe on the D2L discussion board. This option is nice if the students are creating work they would want to share with others, sort of like a portfolio. Then the blog is just their work.
Why use a blog over the D2L discussion tool?
  • It can be nice if you want to open it up to an audience bigger than just the class since blogs are generally public. Others interested in the topic could read and comment on the students' blog posts.
  • For some fields, such as communication journalism, exposure to this medium as a student can be beneficial in the workforce.
  • If you want the students to simply share information, not in a formal paper format, without an expectation of scholarly, interactive discussion.
Why use the D2L discussion tool over a blog?
  • I think D2L discussions are best for scholarly, in-depth discussions requiring back-and-forth interaction. For instance, if you require students to post and then respond to others, the response pattern is clearer to follow in the threaded, grid pane viewing option.
  • If you are considering private blogs, maybe just use the D2L discussion tool instead since it is restricted to just the class by default.
  • Another benefit to the D2L discussion is that all posts related to one topic are located in one discussion board. It would be easier to navigate than if everyone had their own blog at a separate URL.

When considering new technology, make sure it has added value. Sticking with tools the students have already used can make life easier for them, so only add new technology tools when they are clearly enhancing the learning experience.

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