Would I use a blog in a classroom?

I love the idea of using a blog because it’s much more engaging than an online forum like Moodle or Blackboard. I’ve used Moodle in classes here at IUP and I used a system that had a Blackboard-type interface at a CC where I taught, and both situations did not seem to elicit the type of community involvement as I would have liked as a teacher/student.

However, in both of Dr. Heflin’s classes that I’ve taken (Women’s Literature and Literature as a Profession), we used a class WordPress blog, but neither time did the blog develop into something where the students felt like they had ownership over the blog or that it developed into something where students would post/comment when unguided.

These are the concerns about having a class blog. What happens when students simply rely on us, as teachers, to guide them to post? From a pedagogical perspective, how do we guide them toward posting without direct guidance/questions/etc.?

However, I think that the purpose of a blog for a class can overcome this obstacles because continuing the discussion outside of class is very important and it allows for students who do not normally speak in class to offer their own thoughts. Maybe having students create their own tags and put things in categories would help with their engagement in the blog. Maybe part of the issue with commenting/posting without guidance is that sometimes it is difficult to read through 20 blog posts everyday, but if they were organized in a way that made it easier to read, then students may be more likely to read others’ writing and comment on the blog.

3 thoughts on “Would I use a blog in a classroom?

  1. Hey Alexi,

    I read your blog concerning using a blog in class and I like the issues you bring up. It is true, sometimes students need a template or something scaffolding their way up in discussions. However, we must decide what is our goal for the student participation in the blog? Do we just want to look fancy among our colleagues because we use something they’re not using? Or do we have a purpose? I think the purpose of the blog is that it is to give the student agency and self-confidence to declare their opinions in a safe environment. There might be some students who are unwilling to participate, but I am sure the majority will be happy to say what they have in mind. This process might take some getting used to because students are not accustomed to the fact that they have a voice in the classroom. The blog can be part of the “healing” process for students to have a voice and agency over their voices in education.

    • Zak,

      I absolutely agree that understanding our purpose as professors when using a blog is so important and it also helps to explain that purpose to our students, since why and what they’re writing can change based on our purpose. I really like your view about how the blog can be a “healing” process especially for students who have yet to find their voice and their agency.

      I guess my hope is to eventually figure out how to help students claim ownership over a class blog so that they don’t just feel forced to write, but that they want to contribute and they want to engage in conversation outside of class without being forced (similar to how we as graduate students talk about what we’re reading, etc.). I’m interested in this because of my previous experience, here in grad school at IUP, with class blogs and how they never really became a community outside of class. Maybe it’s just because we’re jaded graduate students, while undergraduates may find it more interesting to engage in online forums/discussions/posts outside of class.

  2. Alexi,
    You raise a really interesting point- how do we students to use technology on their own? I think it is really ironic that we are encouraged to use technology because that’s what our students will like, and yet the don’t take that initiative on their own. I think it definitely resonates with a much deeper issue of students (not all, of course) being unsure of how to take initiative on anything on their own (and of course I am mostly talking about college freshman here as those are the ones that I have experience teaching). I wonder if the ownership issue would be helped by seeing the blog functioning somehow outside of the classroom dynamic. If another class from another university were to use it, for instance, would it makes the students using it feel as though their contributions were more important? Maybe. 🙂

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