Dr Bryan Brazeau incorporates student blogging into several of his modules as a method of scaffolded learning and a way to develop student writing skills and confidence. In his courses, he creates public Wordpress blogs and invites his students to submit ungraded blog posts reflecting on their weekly learning experience under a username, which he then evaluates in the form of a blog comment underneath the post. The students are also encouraged to read blog posts written by their peers and interact with them.
Bryan Brazeau, Liberal Arts
- Every week, either before or after the learning session, students are encouraged to write blog posts on a class-dedicated blogging website, which the tutor sets up in advance. The students do not have to program the website, but the task of creating one using a template is simple for the teacher. Blog entries can have a wide focus, but, broadly speaking, they should serve as reflections on topics and subjects discussed in class. These entries, at this stage, are ungraded but compulsory.
- The blog posts that the students write may have customisable access settings that the student can control. For instance, a student may write a personal blog entry and restrict it in such a way that only they and the tutor can see it; alternatively, they can also make it visible to everyone else in the class.
- Once the blog post is published, the tutor assesses the blog in the form of a comment underneath the entry. The feedback provided by the tutor is rather informal, at this point, and should provide recommendations and source suggestions rather than grade the student.
- During the classes, the tutor may wish to display and discuss select blog entries published by the students. This may serve as a way to generate in-class discussions among the students.
- By the end of term, the students are required to select three of their own favourite blog entries, merge them into a single document, and submit it for assessment. This assessment is graded according to the marking criteria.
I'll use what the students have said [in the blog posts in] my classes. So, when I come into class, I will have [their blog post] on a PowerPoint slide, and that really lets the students' interests navigate us through the material.
It's really nice, because, ... it lets [the students] demonstrate engagement throughout the entire term, but it also really helps students with writing skills. ... It's helpful for them to have that opportunity to have their writing commented on week by week ... and it just means that the quality of the in-class discussion is so much better.