One of the things I have learned from teaching is that you can ask for a lot from participants, but you do owe them an explanation - why is this activity important, what are you hoping they will achieve from doing it - otherwise they are quick to call it "busy work." So I have been working on how to discuss the reasoning behind the blogging. I am pulling the rest of this post from something I wrote for my summer course when some in the class asked if I would be commenting on all of their blog posts...
A large part of my reason for the blogs is to encourage you to think reflectively about what you are doing (in the class, in your jobs, in your life…) and share that with others. It is hard to truly turn information in to knowledge without creating relationships between new information and existing ideas, or relating that information to a current need. The journals are a good tool to support these kind of connections.
In a way the blogs are really for you, a place for you to find/stretch your voice, start to create your professional persona, to realize you have something to say (and you do!). Yes, I know I am making you do them, so it may not feel like it is for you – but it is a great way to experiment. So my dilemma about leaving comments, is that it implies that my response is needed for your blogs – that the are about grading, or fulfilling a requirement that I stand in judgement over. This is another reason why the points for the blogs are in your hands, I am not going to grade discussions or reflections – because they are about you and about interaction…the activity is more important in some ways than the content.
There is actually a term for what I am encouraging you to do – “learning out loud” and hopefully subsequently “working out loud.” There is a great blog post on LOL from Nigel Young – and one on WOL. You can also read this from Shana Chattopadhyay on WOL. As you think about working out loud, remember it can be just as important to share your "failures" as it is to share your victories - this is impart about helping others to avoid some of the same issue. Here are some great blog posts on "failures" – it can be so much easier to learn from something that didn’t go right than from something that did…
- Have you had your students blog or "learn out loud" in other ways? Do you grade these activities? Do you try to comment on every blog post?
- What are some alternative ways to grade or "evaluate" reflective student assignments, or student engagement?
- If you would like to have you students blog but have not started - what is holding you back?