Hi everyone

I am giving a workshop this week on blogging for a group of about 20 professors at a local college. These are folks who have not blogged before and are interested in determining the possibilities of integrating blogs into the classroom. Most are English and Education professors. Now, I am an elementary teacher and I have worked primarily with k-12 teachers on using blogs and podcasting, and I have plenty of rationale and examples for that level.

I know the question will likely come up, how is blogging different from using Blackboard or WebCT or whatever. Why use blogs at the university level? I can certainly talk through these questions but I thought I would turn to our growing community here for some ideas on how to address these issues.

If there are any folks here who can help provide some stories on how they used blogs for the college/university level, that would be most appreciated.

Or, even, maybe you can help provide some pegagogy behind the use of blogging at that level of learning.

Any tidbits or stories or comments would be welcome.


Tags: blogs, workshops

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I teach at universtiy -- and require my students to use blogs. I do that BECAUSE we use Blackboard.

When a student puts something into Blackboard - discussion, collaboration, whatever -- when the course closes, they lose it. I don't want my students to lose their contributions. They may never access the again, but I want them to have the option.

I require all my students to start a blog and get an aggregator. They link all their blogs (and mine) into the aggregator and - voila - everybody is now writing in a common space but each has control of their own voice. Moreover, when the course ends, they still have the connection. Last, as they explore the resources available on the web and report on them in their blogs, the original authors often join the conversations -- if only to say "thanks for noticing what I'm writing."

I my mind, as a college professor, this level of engagement is crucial and I'm happy to talk about it if anybody has any questions.
Yes -- good point about linking ideas and people together, and the potential thread that continues the learning long after the course ends.
I'm about to start teaching Web 2.0 class for my teachers and this is exactly what I was planning to do! I'm glad to hear that it can work. What blogging software do you use? Do you think it matters?

I was also considering seting up a ning network and having people blog on their own page. This wouldn't be as public, but would be more of a community. Still thinking.... I know this doesn't quite relate to the college professor question - sorry.
At this point, I use Edublogs because they are free, have many options to them and I like the network of teachers who are blogging throughout it. (It is a modified Wordpress platform).
I know down the road I am going to move more towards social networking but I am not quite there yet, and this Ning place has been one of my forays to determine if it is right for me and the people I am gently leading into Web 2.0 (just in time for Web 3.0)
Good luck to you, too.
Oh, and James Farmer of this Ning community is creator of Edublogs and a wonderful person to deal with.
Just giving him a big plug.
What blogging software do you use? Do you think it matters?

Personally I use Wordpress on my server, Firefox with bookmarklet, and Liferea as a 'gator.

If you can get them all on wordpress somewhere, life is just so much easier. The courses where the pick LiveJournal AND Blogger AND Vox AND Xanga .. it gets ugly trying to leave comments on specific blogs because most of the "off brands" require some kind of subscription AND log in to leave a comment.

Wordpress is clean, easy, flexible, and powerful. :)
I second you on that.
The Wordpress platform works for me on a variety of different levels (and I already touted Edublogs as a version of WP)
hi Diane
I took a quick look and will certainly return to your sites. I appreciate the sharing of ideas and resources and will be looking at the stories in the next few days.
I have used Blogs in my Intro to Computer Science classes at a university for the past 4 years. The key issues are this.....

1) Set a very defined topic to start. Get them into the habit of answering questions directly at first. Although they will want the students to explore and develop ideas, they need to be able to initially focus in on the topic and come up with a base answer.
2)MONITOR THE BLOGS. Make sure the students comments are not inappropriate, any you follow all institutional guidelines set up by the school. As an official class you are representing the school, and as such are responsible for what is posted.
3)To encourage them to participate, start with a fun off topic question that will appeal to the students interest.
4)Encourage them to add artifacts (Pictures, related websites, short movie links) to their answers / posts to really allow them to develop the idea.
5)Watch how the blog runs. Be mindful of tangents and off topic comments.
Good Luck with the seminar!
This is very helpful feedback and advice that I can pass along.
I haven't used them with college students but I've been subjected to BlackBoard far too often in college and graduate school. The main difference to me is openess and audience.

BlackBoard pretty much guarantees it's just you, and others like you, who are forced to be there participating. That's not much of an environment. Additionally, Blackboard usually caters to the lowest use of technology possible. Almost every course I've had, including those for a masters' in instructional technology, have really been the equivalent of a syllabus with some computer graded tests thrown in. There's no real communication or authentic voice from the supposed teacher. I might as well have bought just the book and saved a great deal of money.

You don't often see that kind of impersonal nature in blogs. Blogs that are open tend to gather audiences and the author's have voices. Communication becomes more of a two way street and the learning is more of a process and less of a check off sheet. I also like the fact that blogs can be customized and made to actually reflect the personality of the author or the purpose of the blog.
I like the argument of a personal aspect to blogs that Bboard and others don't have, and the sense of real interaction with real audience, and not just student-teacher.
Thanks for the thoughts, Tom.




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