Blogging for education

Blogging for education

April 9, 2012 1:43 am 85 comments

As blogs become bigger and bigger part of the course design here at CDE, I often find myself having to convince faculty members of benefits having a class blog.  New technology always seems scary and complicated at first. And although blogs have been in existence for a long time, their educational application seems to be relatively new for many instructors.

To me, one of the main reasons to use blogs is obvious — blogs are an incredibly easy way to share knowledge  in a state where students and teachers are often separated by hundreds and hundreds of miles. However, if you are not as convinced as I am of that reason, here is a list of additional reasons of why blogs are a wonderful educational tool

  • for ownership
  • for collaboration
  • for discussion
  • for empowerment
  • for interaction
  • for motivation
  • for participation
  • for engagement
  • for excitement
  • for conversation
  • for creativity
  • for reflection
  • to extend the walls of the classroom
  • for connectivity
  • to give students a voice
  • to give students an audience (in real world)
  • to give students a learning environment that is open 24/7
  • to give them skills for the future

So, blogs can serve many purposes in an educational setting.  How would you choose to use them?  Below are some examples:

1. Log Reflective Writing – Individual students can use weblogs to create and collect reflective exercises such as journals, assignment responses, or directed writing exercises. Using a weblog, instructors don’t have to collect, sort, and archive email messages or bulletin board entries. Because weblog entries are “published” rather than simply sent to an individual, it highlights and reinforced the idea of semi-formal discourse. If the weblogs are made public (or shared with just the rest of the class), then the student will gain practice writing for others.

K-12 examples:

  • http://students2oh.org/ – students reflect on what it means to be a student and education in general; community; run by students for students; anyone can contribute.  Students as educators. Awesome!

Higher Ed examples:

2. Create a Class Community - A single weblog can be maintained by a group of authors. Creating a single weblog instance in which all students in a course become authors is a natural method for creating a class community. Like a discussion board, each instructor will need to facilitate the flow of posts, model good blogging behaviors, and define expectations for what students can (and should) post. A class weblog might be simply topical or it might be assignment driven. This kind of community weblog can be particularly useful in the distance education setting, to combat “the loneliness of the long-distance learner.”

K-12 examples:

Higher Ed examples:

  • http://worlds.zachwhalen.net/ – Virtual World building class that utilizes student reflection via blogging; also provides a great blogging rubric; it is important to state exactly what you expect from students.

3. Create a Collaborative Resource - A weblog can be used to create a collaborative resource. Having students collaboratively build a weblog around a specific topic is not only a good exercise in research and writing, but may well result in a genuinely useful resource to the world at large. Weblog software lowers the barriers to entry to allow for this kind of collaboration at a distance.

K-12 examples:

Higher Ed examples:

4. Create a Class Information Site – In a distance education setting, timely and efficient information dissemination is critical. Weblogs are easy to maintain and post, and most weblog tools allow for different streams of information that can be syndicated and picked up by students in a variety of different ways. This is more visible than discussion board posts or posting such information as course documents, while allowing for room to expand on topics and posts that are not easily handled by the “Announcements” section of a Learning Management System.

K-12 examples:

  • http://spamspriester.blogspot.com – a complete English paperless course: includes assignments and student blogs with projects/homework (could be used for an e-portfolio example as well).

Higher Ed examples:

5. E-Portfolio – A blog can be a place to show progress or present materials that a student has used or created throughout a project, class or program. Since most blogs allow for posting multiple types of media, as well as adding links and commentary, this can be a great tool for e-portfolios; includes wikis.

K-12 example:

Higher Ed example:

6. Peer Review – Have students post their work to a blog to get comments back from other students and other blog readers before submitting to instructor for grading. Suggestions and comments about content or grammar can be a good exercise for both writer and reviewer. Plus the added impact of getting comments from experts outside of the class can be a powerful motivator.

K-12 examples:

Higher Ed examples:

  • http://socialmediahied.com – graduate course in Social Media;  students blog weekly to critique and expand on social media research; in addition, the blog’s purpose is to engage an audience beyond course participants (that means you).

7. Group Work – Post results of group work.

http://blogs.southfieldchristian.org/biologyislife/ – documenting group projects for Biology course in a multi-user set-up.


So, why should we let students blog?


This post is part of a presentation Jennifer Moss and I did at ASTE last year. Full presentation can be found here.

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