Using a Blog to Enhance Student Participation

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  1. David Lambert

    Thanks for these insights. Your article came today just as I began rethinking my course for our start date in early September. I have had each student use a personal wiki page (not on the internet but which could be viewed by other class members) for reactions. But your case for anonymity is a good on. I may well adopt your approach.

  2. Lisa

    Jason U. Kim, a PhD. candidate and instructor in Ethnic Studies and History at UC Berkeley, has written an excellent blog post on his use of Twitter in the classroom. It really is a great post; check it out here:

    Kim points to Twitter as a teaching tool for many of the same reasons discussed in this post on blogging. He describes it is a "discussion enhancer," or as a means for instructors to get a "far better idea of how to facilitate the real world discussion that will take place afterwards, meaning that Twitter is a kind of warm up or opening act for the in-class discussion." I find it interesting that both blogs and Twitter could better prepare not only students, but instructors for class discussion. And I wonder if using Twitter as a pre-discussion platform, rather than a blog, might decrease the marking & reading load for instructors who have other writing assignments on the syllabus, though it would provide less opportunity for students to receive feedback on their writing.

    Kim also points out that Twitter, as a hyperlink-friendly and even hyperlink-dependent mode of communication, can get students to make connections with the course material beyond the classroom: "Twitter broadens out the discussion to a level you cannot achieve through traditional discussion. The best tweets are the kinds that share information via links, images, YouTube videos, etc., where you are directed to a related source you weren’t aware of."

    Thanks for another excellent post, Dr. Weimer–I greatly appreciate your highly readable reviews of current research & findings in the field of teaching & learning. I especially appreciate the explanation of how anonymity was maintained by the prof for the blog assignment–a very useful tip.

  3. Lisa

    Here's another example of how blogging might be introduced to course curriculum: The Photosponse is a collection of blog posts & photos by students in a third-year English lit course (specifically 18th century lit).

    In this example, the prof has taken advantage of current technology to get students thinking about the rise of technology in the 18th century, and how this affected people's views of the natural world, the body, and the globe. I really like, too, that the prof had students write a response to a photo they themselves had taken–many innovators in education introduce different social media platforms into their courses, in large part because social media is a way in which students are already engaging in public discussion. But cell phones have made photographers and documentarists out of us all, too. Can we not bring this into the classroom, as well?

    For a better description of The Photosponse project, here's a trasncript of their "about" page:

    "This year, in English 365: Eighteenth-Century Lit 1 — at UPEI — we tried to incorporate various technologies into the class. The class met “face to face” just like other classes, but all the readings were available on a private class blog. In this private blog, students also posted comments, thought, and engaged in discussions about the texts outside of class time. We made use of Twitter — and students completed a variety of “twitter essays” using the hashtag #e365. One of the major assignments was to contribute to public knowledge by choosing a trial from the Old Bailey and providing an analysis of it in a public blog on crime (here);
    Another assignment was to choose a text or group of texts we studied and respond to those texts in a visual form (accompanied by some explanation) — these are the “photosponses” — originally posted on the private class blog, but too good, I think, to keep private. Enjoy:)"

    Fantastic, eh?

  4. Visham

    The use of blogs in an educational setting promotes interaction between students and teachers or students and students, offering a mode of interaction more conducive to improved student and teacher relationships, active learning, higher order thinking, and greater flexibility in teaching and learning. As Professor Weimer, I have also used blogs ( to help improve critical thinking, writing skills, increase participation, creation of knowledge and assess how well the students understood the relevant class materials.

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