Student Blogging: How to Use Blogs in the Classroom
As the classroom grows to become even more internet-dependent than it used to be, more and more online tools are becoming a valid means of teaching and learning. One such tool happens to blog. Generally considered to be a means of expressing oneself or garnering a following online, few people probably think they are useful in an educational setting. However, this is simply not true.
However, it’s important to note that, like many tools in an educational setting, you have to use blogs properly to really get the most out of them.
Otherwise, they may serve as nothing more than a distraction.
Hiding Tedium Behind Something Fun
Blogging involves a lot of writing, so naturally, that’s what you would be aiming to use such things for. That’s because, with Common Core standards and the No Child Left Behind Act, literacy is more important in the realm of education than ever, even if you’re in college. That said, it can be pretty hard to get students to care about writing, especially if they have to write about something that doesn’t particularly interest them.
That’s exactly why blogging can be used as a valuable tactic to get students to write. Blog writing, unlike an essay, is quite casual and doesn’t adhere to strict writing standards that make the whole process more intimidating. It takes the pressure off of the students in regard to performing well and instead allows them to have a voice in a safe environment.
What is a Blog?
It might help to know exactly what a blog is before going any further. The word stands for weblog, and it’s sort of like an online journal or diary.
However, it’s not private: it’s available for an entire audience to see. The readers of the blog can usually leave comments in order to interact with the writer. This provides a platform for students to communicate with teachers, students with other students, or teachers with teachers.
Examples of Educational Blog Uses
One of the most obvious ways blogs could be used in the classroom is by the teacher, in order to post updates, assignments, resources, and important messages or updates. By doing this, students have an easy place they can go in order to check on what needs to be done or known, and if they are confused, they can comment on whatever they need more information on.
By doing this, the teacher can receive updates about students who need help, and there is an open line of communication between the teacher and the students at all times. There’s no need for students to wait for the next time they meet the teacher or for them to respond to an email. Moreover, other students can also see such comments, and possibly be able to assist their fellow classmen themselves.
Of course, there are more direct uses for blogs as well, especially when it comes to teaching. Blogging can be a great way for students to put their thoughts into words, but it can also be a great way for teachers to assess the level of writing skill their students possess. It’s an easy way for a teacher to give pointers on a student’s writing ability, without them feeling pressured by the presence of a grade.
Moreover, when students write in a casual and informal setting, they are more likely to write in a manner that is similar to the way they speak. In doing this, a teacher can help improve their literacy as well as their spoken word.
Beyond getting feedback from a teacher, students could also get feedback on their writing from other students, allowing for peer review. Again, since it’s not an academic setting, there’s less pressure to perform to a particular standard, and thus more beneficial for the student. Students that are very skilled or knowledgeable on a subject could even use a blog to teach other members of their class.
Finally, blogs have a pretty obvious use in regard to clubs and school organizations. Students could use a blog in order to post information about their clubs or organizations for other students, thus providing an extra means of communication.
Of course, an internet platform that students can all post on is going to need rules. Without them, there’s no telling what could happen. It’s important to understand what a school does or doesn’t allow, first. Some schools may not allow photos of students, and others may have a filter on certain languages. It’s best to know all of that beforehand.
You’ll also need to know what kind of behavior and conduct is expected on such a blog: with students having the freedom to comment as they will, some of them will almost certainly say things that are inappropriate, which is less than desirable.
It’ll be a good idea to read other blogs about similar content and see how they operate, as well as provide ideas for topics and proper commenting.
Needless to say, building a blog for use in the classroom is not an instantaneous task, and will take time for both the teacher and the students to get used to.
While blogs are not the first thing people think of when it comes to the Internet in a teaching environment, it would be foolish to assume that there is no value in it. Even at a college level, having a blog for a class is a great way to facilitate participation and cooperation in the classroom, while also providing a means of communication between all members of the class and its teacher. It’s also a great way to have students write more frequently, and thus improve their skills.
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