Blogging: Is it Practical/Possible in Intro-Level Courses?

Identifying myself as one of those graduate instructors that fails to effectively use technology within the classroom (beyond my inconsistent, in-class computer-projection set-up), I’ve been trying to determine the appropriate tools and methods in which I can engage 170 students at 8am two days a week. This week’s readings mostly outlined how blogs can be used to increase student engagement both in and out of class, a skill that many of us (definitely including myself) will need to more fully develop if we hope to continue teaching.

In the Halavais article, he highlights how online spaces can effectively use students’ fear of embarrassment as motivators for “better work” via blogs. This is genius! By opening the blogging space to the public, students may also improve the quality of the work they post. I loved the idea behind this, but also wondered whether students might simply fail to post in fear of critique. Perhaps if students were allowed to use pseudonyms (as suggested in the article) they may feel more liberated to post their controversial opinions in a public space.

Mushon Zer-Aviv describes the blog as a central/core feature of the course. I wanted to ask the author, what this class structure would actually look like in a syllabus. I’m not sure whether the Psych Department at Hunter even be okay with an open-access blog, but this reading inspired me to explore this possibility. I also kept thinking, in regards to my mostly freshman students, how do I scaffold the blogging process? Blogging is by all means a skill, but how do you teach it and how much time does it take to teach?

While I generally enjoyed the accessibility of the readings this week, I still felt as though they didn’t thoroughly describe practical approaches to the assessment of blogs. Halavais discusses his technique for assessing blog posts via Google Reader as a way to quickly skim the posts. This sounds doable for a smaller course, but for those of us teaching 100+ students, it seems that this process of skimming could take days. This is especially true if our students have never blogged, since they’ll tend to write more. For those of you that have used blogs, how do you efficiently assess students’ posts? Have any of you used a peer grading system, and if so, was it effective in saving you time?

11 thoughts on “Blogging: Is it Practical/Possible in Intro-Level Courses?

  1. Kelly Aronowitz

    I use blogs, but my class has 20 students. As is, I skim and read quickly thru their posts. I did comment at the beginning of the semester but not anymore. I do comment in-class on their posts, so they know I do read them.
    I do wonder if I had a bigger class what I would do, probably divide the students into sections, so 20-30 post per week, and everyone else comments…, or 20-30 blog per week and another 20-30 comment.
    some form of moderating blogging…

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