Undoubtedly, the online writing forum is the dominant form of contemporary national conversations about any topic you can think of. While some of us have attempted to use blogging as a way to teach, many of us have found the challenge of the online environment has only added to complexity of the teaching process.
Technology is here to assist! Not drag us down! But it can be made simple….
An excellent working example (that I encourage you to visit and comment upon) is Stephanie McNulty’s Comparative Politics blog “Wandering Classroom” at Franklin & Marshall College. Dr. McNulty has used blogging as a platform for students to connect what is happening around the world to the concepts covered in her class. Students must post a blog providing analysis on a contemporary event, and also comment on each other’s blog posts.
McNulty grades students on their blog posts and their comments on one another’s work….but here’s the kicker…. because these posts are public anyone can read and comment. It is an added pressure to perform and to interact outside the walls of the classroom.
(Feel free to comment on their posts to get in on the game!)
Most importantly, these blog posts are more than just fodder, they are actual graded writing! THINGS WE ALREADY DO MADE INTERACTIVE, PEER CRITIQUED, AND GRADED?
This is where I double face palm myself for all the one page reaction memos I have assigned that go only onto my own desk. Simple, better, interactive.
Bravo Dr. McNulty!