Why Blog?

In recent years, blogs have become popular pedagogical tools, and their benefits in the classroom have been much debated by scholars. For example, many have argued whether (or to what extent) blogging makes students better writers. Without entering into the particulars of such debates, I would like to address my reasons for including a blog in this course:

  1. Blogs provide a locus for sharing ideas and information. In a traditional classroom, response papers are submitted to the instructor, which means that s/he is the only one who gets to read them. Since it is unlikely that all students will take part in every class discussion in the semester, many great ideas get lost in the shuffle. Sharing responses on the blog enables each student to participate in a discussion on every text we read in the semester. Moreover, the blog becomes a reference point for in-class discussion, and reading and responding to each other’s blogs works to stimulate students’ own thinking about the text(s).  Finally, students are able to share course-related information like articles and videos easily on a blog, which broadens the possibilities of information learned and gives students some agency over course content. In these ways, a blog-mediated course facilitates learning more conveniently than the traditional classroom.
  2. Blogs provide students with another avenue for class participation. Although there is no substitute for in-class participation, it is inevitable that some students will be reluctant to speak in class. Whether this is due to shyness or a preference for class time as a place to process rather than share information, it is a difficult reality to combat as a teacher. The anonymity of blogs may give shy students some sense of security participating in class. Additionally, it gives students a chance to share those thoughts that popped up after class ends and to structure their arguments more coherently for their peers.
  3. Blogs enable students to (potentially) interact with a larger community. Ideas exist outside the classroom, and blogging can help to break the perceived separation between the academic and “real” worlds by placing students in a larger community. Students can view other blogs on course subjects and interact with other bloggers outside the classroom.
  4. Blogs help to familiarize students with new and popular technologies. Far from being confined to personal or classroom use, blogs and other new technologies have become a major part of the public sphere. Magazines and news organizations have incorporated blogs to disseminate information; businesses self-promote by allowing users to follow them on Facebook and Twitter; and many aspiring writers have found career-making success by self-publishing their work on blogs. Introducing and/or polishing students’ skills with these technologies can only help to further prepare them for today’s workplace.

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