For the last four to five years I have included a blogging assignment in my Women’s Studies or Political Science courses. During the last three years the blogging assignment is mandatory and I have found that most students find the assignment(s) liberating in that it offers them a place to combine analysis with a creative assignment. However, I find that it is good to offer some flexibility with the assignment. Last Summer students had an opportunity to blog, put together a zine or make an iMovie that responded to a series of course readings. Six to eight of them put together zines and more opted to blog. For the second year in a row–no one opted to complete the iMovie assignment. However, one person did vlogging for her assignment and I was pleased with her vlogs.
These creative assignments are coupled with class participation, and lots of writing–a major research paper. The students get ample opportunity to think and write. My expectations are that the series of blogs helps the student hone her/his analysis of the course readings and my comments, then, help them improve so that the final paper is not merely an extension, but the final product for their thoughtful analysis related to the course material. I will continue to offer them this opportunity to blog.
The blogging assignment also allows the student to become familiar with a blogging platform and I find that most students enjoy learning how to add different matter (photos, video clips and the like) to their posts. The students experience some pride of ownership with their particular blog and then they get to do that practical thing—add familiarity to said platform to their resume. That said, there is also a growing area of literature that is examining blogging as a genuine assignment in the classroom and the benefits of blogging. I do think that we will continue to see social media use in our classrooms and here I do not mean that student laughing or smiling into their hands, as they text one another. No, we will see more colleagues using social media platforms in the classroom assignments. How are you using Web 2.0 in your classroom?