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Blogs in teaching

Brief description

Blogs are often seen as Web-based diaries, but they can also be used as platforms for exchanging experience, discussing, and expressing personal opinion. When blogs are used in teaching, both students and teachers can produce posts and read and write comments on other contributors’ posts. Blogs become platforms for sharing and producing content either as individuals, in groups or in a larger community.

Motivation

Blogs can act as academic platforms for reflection by both students and teachers in a course and raise the profile of the academic learning.

In other words, blogs can function as an academic resource for the students themselves, for exams or later in their studies, and for the outside world, which can be motivating for the students. Moreover, teaching blogs can offer an opportunity for reserved students to communicate in other ways than during plenary sessions and lectures.

Activities

As a teacher you should consider if it is a good idea to use blogs as course blogs or group blogs:

  • Course blogs function as teaching blogs in a particular course and a platform for students to post individual text, for instance assignments, reflection exercises or course-relevant links. You as a teacher can write posts for the students to comment on or consider or you can give feedback on posts written by the students. You as a teacher are the owner of the blog.
  • With group blogs you can ask each group in the class to create and use a blog; the groups must produce content, for instance communicate the framework for a portfolio assignment, an academic product or their learning process in relation to academic topics. You may ask all students in the class to comment on or give feedback on the posts of other groups. In this case, the students are the owners of the blog.

  Use teaching blogs in connection with:

Portfolio or product exams

Students may use the blog to submit sub-assignments in the shape of posts which can be used included in a major final assignment in the semester. You as a teacher can choose to assess the students’ blog posts, thus including the blog posts and comments in the assessment of the exam.

Internship/Study abroad

While students are studying abroad or in an internship, they can write about their experiences in an individual or shared course blog related to the internship. Their fellow students and teachers can then follow their activities and learn about a process that may not otherwise be very easy to follow, and may also write their comments and reactions along the way. In this case, blogs provide an opportunity for reflection on experience, theory and relationships, which may help relieve the students’ feeling of being isolated during internships or study periods abroad and may create a closer link between these periods and the university courses.

Feedback

You as a teacher may give feedback in comments on the students’ blog posts or ask the students to give peer feedback on each other’s work posted on the blog.

Evaluation

You as a teacher may use the blog, including the students’ blog posts, to focus and adapt your lecture in accordance with the students’ understanding of the academic material. You may also ask the students to evaluate the course and their own learning process in concrete blog posts.

Academic resource

During the course, students can create posts in a course blog on theories, methods, theorists or academic subjects introduced in the course. You as a teacher can ask the students to take turns at creating content for the blog, which turns the blog into an academic resource that can support the students when preparing for exams.

Reflection

The students can use the blog format to reflect on their own learning, their academic outcome and their own performance, for instance in a Reflection blog. This can benefit the students’ self-regulated learning.

Digital tools

If you do not know which tools to use for the different activities, or what the differences are between them, you may read more about tools below:

Blogs in Blackboard are an easily accesible blogging tool, as they are built into Blackboard. It is easy for the students to upload content to the blog and everything is gathered in one place. Blogs in Blackboard are not accesible to everyone on the internet and they are only for internal use. The students must be logged in to acces the content on the blog.

Blogger*(Arts)

Blogger is a free tool for creating blogs, and it is freely accessible on the Internet. The tool has many functions for graphical design, and also for including different types of content such as video and audio. In other words, the tool is well suited for students who want to do more than just produce text.

WordPress is a tool for creating blogs. The primary difference between this tool and Blogger is their different levels of sophistication. Whereas Blogger is very easy to use, WordPress is a little more complicated but also provides more options. WordPress is more common in the business world than Blogger, which may motivate the students to learn to use it. Ask the Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media to create a teaching blog on the WordPress platform.

Worth considering

It is preferable that students experience a connection between teaching activities and activities on the blog. This may be achieved by making it clear how and why blogs are used in the course, for instance by using a blog as an academic resource at the beginning of the semester and for feedback on specific assignments later. It may also be achieved if you as a teacher prioritise being present on the blog, for instance by giving systematic feedback on the work posted by students as comments on the students’ blog posts.

  • Learning to blog: Teachers should not expect that students are experienced bloggers; they should therefore make sure that the purpose and activity of blogging are communicated clearly and comprehensibly to the students. To support the students in “learning to blog”, you may show them examples of other academically relevant blogs with good examples of blog posts and comments which are also academically relevant (e.g. open-tdm.au.dk/blogs/intercultural/ and open-tdm.au.dk/blogs/ok/)
  • Blog visibility: You may consider whether the blog should only be for internal use or also viewable for external users. If the blog is for internal use only and should not be shared with the general public, it may be made private. In this case, using BB blogs is recommended. Most teaching blogs have no secret content, however, and therefore it makes no difference whether they are viewable for users outside of the class.

W3.CSS

Example of teaching blog in Pages

The content in this page was developed by Pernille Risør Elving, research assistant at Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media.