Around the Web: Blogging to Learn

Blogging might just be the next academic frontier, if you believe the New York Times. But does the medium lend itself to student learning?

John Orlando at Faculty Focus thinks it does. Arguing that blogging harkens back to commonplacing, he advocates for blogs as a space where students’ original ideas can smolder until the moment when they’re ready to burst into flame. Orlando also suggests that blogs can provide a space for “collisions” between students. In addition to allowing for contact and conflict that doesn’t always take place in the classroom (with its power dynamics and public-speaking intimidation), blogs help students practice analysis and argumentation in a low-stakes forum. More importantly, students own their ideas and at the same time find themselves accountable to a greater public. Orlando provides some quick tips on getting students blogging here.

Of course, not everyone sees things like Orlando. In an article for the Harvard Crimson, Yair Rosenberg writes about his resentment for the extra work, redundancy, and general pointlessness of student blogs. (Full disclosure: Yair is my former student, and his article was partially written in response to keeping a blog for my class.)

If you do decide to assign student blogs, there are resources you can draw on. ProfHacker offers one possible rubric for evaluating blogs and a check-list of sorts to help you through the planning stages.

For those interested in academic studies of student and faculty blogging, a starting place might be the bibliography of this article on developing research blogs.

5 thoughts on “Around the Web: Blogging to Learn

  1. Just in case it isn’t clear – in my editorial, Louis is the TF who “went a long way towards clarifying the specific goals of the [blog] project.” You can see the listening journal from the course at the link by my name. Suffice to say, writing it was a very rewarding experience. I just wish most other courses would put as much effort into figuring out what sort of technologies do and do not contribute to their course (and I know from the response I got to my column that my feelings are far from unique among Harvard students).

  2. I consider blogging to be an exceptional resource(s) to learn and develop original thought. Once upon a time, I had a professor whom requested that students keep a blog. At first, I thought it was a mundane task. I eventually realized that it helped focus what I was studying into original thought. It was not only conceptual, but more practical and eventually became second nature. Reading others blogs was a huge bonus, as you could notice the differences in thought on a topic. Again, I consider blogging to be an exceptional way to learn.

  3. If a student blogs for no other reason than for the historical timeline it provides you, I believe he’s getting value out of his efforts. I keep a simple daily log of the things I do and the things I learn. Every week, I review my log and pay attention to things I did that worked and things that didn’t; things I understand well and things I don’t yet understand completely. Monthly, if I remember to, I go through this log again and highlight the important bits in a new monthly log (hindsight is 20/20 and all that) and, although I haven’t reached this point yet, I intend to review my monthly logs and turn them into annual logs – so I can quickly look back over everything I’ve done and learned over the past few years and, well, learn more from the data 🙂

  4. Yes, blogging allows students to share their opinions and helps them to be responsible netizens who come to realize what they write impacts the society on a larger level.

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