Thursday, April 17

Student Blogging 101: Part 2

I’d like to take this opportunity to brag about my students in my Web Design class. Like any proud teacher, I like to show off their work and share their accomplishments with my colleagues and other interested educators. My students are just finishing a unit on blogging and I must say that they have all done an outstanding job. Their assignment (which you can find on our class blogwas to create a blog on a topic of their choosing. Students blogged about many interesting topics such as baking, nutrition, beaches, skin care, sports, and superheroes. (Most are complete - a few still in the development process.)

As an introduction to the unit, students viewed a few short videos about blogging. We then discussed the differences (and similarities) between blogging and more traditional modes of communication such as PowerPoint, essays, newspapers, magazines etc. We also discussed the potential challenges that they might encounter while blogging. For example, students had to become skilled at how to create effective blog posts. An effective blog post, they learned, is developed as a “conversation starter.” The were asked to develop posts that were robust with information and written in such a way as to encourage reader comments and effective online dialogue.   

Learning how to respectfully participate in this form of online “conversation” was another challenge that the students had to consider.  Crafting comments (on their classmates’ blogs) that were both positive and valuable to the online-discussion was certainly a challenge that many students had difficulty with initially. However, with more practice, they soon became quite adept at submitting comments that developed into some very interesting (and respectful) online-conversations. 

Another challenge with blogging (as with any other online medium) is that blogs should be designed to be visually appealing. The more “artsy” students had little difficulty with this requirement but some of the other students were a bit more intimidated. Fortunately, with Google Blogger, adding images and color and making use of the pre-set layouts, makes this challenge fairly easy to master.  Using Animoto, students also created their own "videos" about their topic. They were also encouraged to explore other tools such as PowToon and Bitstrips to add some "flair" to their blogs.

So, grab a cup of coffee, relax and take some time to visit a few of my students’ blogs. (Leave them a comment if you're so inclined - they'd love it!) You’ll find them to be creative, informative, and often times, witty. As you view their sites , please think of how you might be able to incorporate blogging into your curriculum. Might an assignment that typically requires your students to write an essay or to create a PowerPoint lend itself well to blogging? Do you have students that struggle with writing assignments? If so, consider blogging. My experience with these students is that they become completely engaged when blogging. They put a lot of effort into researching their topics and developing the content for their posts.  
If you’d like to include blogging in your curriculum and would like help doing so, please let me know and I can help you and your class get started. 

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