Tidbits, Resources, and Discussion for ELI Faculty

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Using Blogs to Improve Writing Skills and Reflection on Learning

We talked briefly a while back about how we might use blogs in our teaching at ELI. This article, although it is about K-12 education, makes some good points about why having students write blogs as they learn can improve their writing skills, their confidence, and their understanding and retention of the material. What do you think--are you convinced? What is the downside to creating this type of assignment?


Meena said...

I use Blogs in my mythology course. However, instead of simply posting a comment on one blog, students are required to create their own blogs and post at least one meaningful question (in each unit) about the material they are studying. Then their peers are required to visit all the blogs and answer at least two blog questions. To accommodate the student blogs I have a Blogs link in which I post all Blog URL's.

I have found that this method of forcing students to OWN their blogs and ask questions really helps them focus and think about the material critically (and creatively). Often students post more than one question and respond to more than two peers. Sometimes they will even add comments that go beyond the immediate material. (I give extra credit for this) Hence, I feel that the Blogs facilitate a discussion that extends learning.

My students seem to really benefit from these Blogs.


Jennifer Lerner said...

I am currently designing Soc 200 for ELI and am planning to use a blog assignment in some way. Meena, how do you find it to manage the mythology blogs, time-wise? It seems like it might be fairly time-consuming to visit each student's blog regularly. How do you make that manageable? How often do you visit each student's blog?

Laura said...

MEENA: I was wondering why you choose to do this Q&A using Blogs rather than a discussion board? I have students doing Q&A like this using discussion boards. I think your first sentence of your second paragraph may answer this question ("this method of forcing students to OWN their blogs and ask questions really helps them focus and think about the material critically (and creatively).") I wonder: have you done this using a discussion board as well but found the Blogs more effective? I have hesitated to use Blogs as I'm more comfortable with discussion board format but if you (or others) have done both and found Blogs more effective in terms of getting deeper critical thinking out of students, I might just give it a try!
I also second Jennifer's question regarding managing the Blogs from the instructor perspective (for grading purposes). At least with a discussion board, everything is in one place and you easily see when there are new postings to read (I guess subscribing to the students' blogs would be one way to handle it).

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