Can anyone provide help on assessment criteria for blogs? I'm starting a program within a computer applications group introducing web applications and blogging ... just wondered if anyone has any criteria they can share in how to assess outcomes.

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This is a really great question Marie! Murcho (one of our Classroom 2.0 hosts) has just asked the same question of our year 9 and 10 students who have been blogging for just over 6 months. Their answers should be coming up soon as posts on their blogs. Are you assessing the student's ability to create an effective blog or their reflective writing? In an effective blog I would be looking for:
* clear, concise and thoughtful posts;
* relevant and interesting images (correctly referenced/acknowledged or creative commons licenced)
* Bold header with creative use of pictures in the banner (if choice of template allows)
* Frequent and regular posts
* Good use of links
Murcho teaches students from grade 4 to year 12 the 'art of blogging', so there is a great range of ability, from beginners to very competent bloggers.
Here's a rubric. You can find others by googling "blog rubric". It's hard to assess blog posts if you are looking for good thoughts and personal reflections. If you set the expectations high--formal writing, no chat, no IM lingo, no inappropriate stories or whatever, then the blogging alone should be the reward. I'd hate to discourage someone by too much scrutiny, the expectation for my kids is one interesting, thought-provoking blog and two comments a week to do done at home or in class. That seems to get them onboard. Keeping them onboard is harder.
I think that Britt alludes to a really important point. What are your objectives?

However, I'd personally argue that writing blog posts solely for the purpose of writing blog posts has little value. Obviously when people write they write for a purpose. These purposes should help determine the rubrics by which we assess writing.
Thanks Britt, Nancy and Andrew. Nancy, the rubric is terrific. The objectives? This is a new program being offered at the school at part of computer applications. I'm calling it web applications using a blog platform as the main component. Nancy, I'm using your outcomes for the program from your blog a really different place.

* Students will learn to be safe and responsible social networkers.
* They will understand intellectual property and copyright issues.
* Students will have the opportunity to write real and relevant content which is viewed by an authentic audience.
* The content may be original thoughts or stories, comments in response to peers or response to reflection questions posted by teachers as blog entries or threaded discussions.
* RSS News feed articles may also be used for inspiration!
* Students will learn to use a variety of Web 2.0 tools to enhance their blogging experience.

I'm also looking out for Murcho's responses. Murcho has been a great help to me in my own blogging experiences, which I am now transferring to the classroom.

Marie
Marie, When you are ready let me know and I will lead you to some RSS feeds that are appropriate for kids. (you didn't tell us the age group of your students)
IMHO, the purpose of blogging is to express yourself, your interests and your opinions in writing. Getting others to join in the conversation is a plus. I don't know if this can be mandated. If you want to assess purpose, theme, grammar, conventions etc just do it in a traditional format.
Nancy, thank you. The age group is grade 10, (15/16). This is a totally new venture for the school, so part of the exercise is familiarising students with the blogging platform as well as Web 2.0 tools which I plan to incorporate in the blogging experience, eg, avators, vokis, flickr, photo fun tools etc.
Marie, Let me know how I can help.
Konrad Glogowski has been getting students to blog for longer than most of us. I notice that he puts more stress on community participation via blog comments than he does on the initial post. His logic is that the comments are what makes a blog different from a series of essays. He also takes the stress away from teacher assessment, stating quite baldly that this is part of the problem and not part of the solution.

I have been wrestling with this for some time. My role is as a creator of tools for teachers, and a good educational blogging service is near the top of my list of things to do. Do I follow Konrad, and create a tool that is pedagogically sound but may alienate teachers, or do I match the market with something more conventional but far less powerful?
Assessments of blogs can be a unique assignment to grade. I follow the following criteria for issuing grades:

1. Relevant posting that presents insightful perspective
2. Clearly responds to only one prompt or original post at a time
3. Meets deadline for completion of posts
4. Has obviously been spell & grammar checked before posting
5. If a minimum word length is specified, it is within 20 words of the goal
6. Any references not belonging to the blogger include an MLA citation
7. Includes an original title for the response

My goal for blogging is a reflection of best thinking while reinforcing writing practices from my classroom. The best suggestion, I can give you, is to decide what the purpose of your blogging is and build your assessment around that. Additionally, keep in mind what you are covering in class and use this as a means to reinforce those skills.

I start my students out blogging slowly. They begin with email responses to me, which then lead to blogging responses, and then to the creation of their own personal websites with the responses and more.

Hope this helps.
Thanks Carol, really helpful.

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