raj boora on course blogging


Raj Boora just posted some thoughts on setting up a courseblog with a prof., and they echo many of the same things I've found on my campus:

let's understand that students are as likely to be blogging for the class as they are to be pulling their own teeth – they are going to do it because they need to. You might get the odd student who is really digging it and wants to keep reflecting on it once the class is over, but for most, like pulling teeth, they are only going to jump the hoop once. Thirdly, even though blogging has this aura of being able to put the student at the center of the learning experience, it is still very much the case where students are told what to write and how to write it. It still almost has to be this way in order to create a level field on which the student work can be assessed. Finally... if we know that the students are not going to become bloggers on topic X, and we know that they are unlikely to have a portfolio (yet) where the entries that they do make can become part of a greater whole, why not start them with the most baby step of blogging... commenting.

and

If the instructor wants students to blog, s/he should be a blogger as well. Without the passion for the topic and without the ability to show students what the process really is, things are going to get boring pretty fast for everyone and the great enthusiasm at the start is going to wither quickly, perhaps on the vine. So even if the instructor only has a handful of posts, that is a start. The students should then have to comment on the posts of the instructor, who can then post about those comments and bring in new information. Students can also link out to other blogs that are talking about similar material in comments. This way they can get the idea of what blogging can be about. But wait, you say that this is nothing but a glorified message board? You say that it is in-authentic to the ethos of blogging? To that I say… well yes it is. Having every student start their own blog and post on a predetermined topic is basically creating a non structured discussion board anyway. So what is the problem with at least making the thing manageable?

I've talked with many profs who are convinced that blogging is going to change everything, and that the students are all already avid bloggers. It only changes things if used appropriately. And the vast majority of students have never posted a blog entry on their own (but may have been cajoled into posting one in a course before) and don't manage their own blogs.

The mantra I keep chanting when talking to faculty members is what problem are you trying to solve? and then (and only then) do we get into options of technologies (or not) that support their goals. Blogging may or may not be a solution that's appropriate for a given situation.


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