In my recent post, Blogging to Educate I introduced the concept (and value) of student blogging in educational settings, and today I stumbled upon an article, Strategies for Blog-Powered Instruction (Demski, 2011) prompting me to explore how blogging can develop student writing, and higher order thinking skills. Blogging is similar to ‘journaling’ in that students record thoughts, impressions of identified course content, yet in a ‘digital’ space, a space where students can ‘publish’ their writing to either the class, small group or even to the public via the world-wide web (as we saw in Mind the Science Gap blogging project described in a previous post). In a world of status updates, Twitter and texting jargon with sentences that would make any English instructor cringe – idk, wut do u think we should do? (translation: I don’t know, what do you think we should do?), blogging can encourage authentic writing expression.
Blogs and Bloom‘s Taxonomy
The blog space provides more than a place for personal expression. The student goes through the process of thinking about what to write, reflecting on course content and potentially analyzing course content using higher order thinking skills. If we examine Bloom’s taxonomy, we can see how the blogging activity, if well structured mind you, has the potential to push and challenge the student up on the scale in a way that Twitter and Facebook cannot.
Assessment of the Blog
When it comes to assessing the student’s blog activity, I like to attach a point value (or grade) to the assignment, which supports the overall ‘purpose’ of the assignment as discussed earlier. One approach is to include the blog in the participation grade, with a rubric outlining the basic requirements. We use a rubric which includes the specific number of posts, and a minimum number of words per post, though we don’t go too much further than that. I would recommend not grading each individual post (as you would an essay), as this could quell creativity; but grade collectively at the end of the course. Another option, is to divide students into small groups where group members give feedback to one another. Feedback from peers is an excellent way to encourage class involvement and can raise the bar! 🙂
Components of an Effective Blog Assignment
- The assignment supports one or more of the course objectives, otherwise it loses value and becomes busy work.
- Instructions for students are clear and concise and describes the purpose of the assignment and how it relates to the course. This helps to ensure the student engages in the blogging process.
- Guidelines for students outline how to complete the blog – and avoid instructing the student to simply ‘summarize’ a reading or discussion. Instructions push students further by asking the student to give their opinion on the content in light of _____ (analysing), or encouraging students to apply the lecture material to a real life problem etc.
- ‘How-to’ instructions walk the students through how-to create a post, navigate the menu etc. These instructions are separate from the guidelines, as some students may not need to read the ‘how-to’ instructions.
Blogs have the potential to be a valuable educational activity – if the assignment meets certain criteria: aligns with course learning objectives and its purpose is articulated in order that students do not view it as ‘busy work’, but as a beneficial and worthy endeavor. Learn more, about blogging at WordPress.com.
Demski, Jennifer. Campus Technology, Strategies for Blog Powered Instruction. January 2012
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