Blogging Assignments: Yes, I’m Sold on Them

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?

Using Social Media in the Classroom: Quick Tips

Fri Fun Facts is dedicated to some pro-tips on the classroom. I use this term pro-tips in a tongue in cheek way.

1. What is the purpose of the social media use in the classroom? Transferable skills? Make sure that you are clear with the students about this.

2. Give the students as much direction as they need. Cheat sheets, primers in class, office hours, and your patience as you work with them.

3. Celebrate their work! Ask their permission to share it with one another. Encourage them to explore the assignments as an additional way of engaging in class work.

4. Keep organized! Stay on top of the students’ assignments and make sure that they understand the grading rubric.

3. This will offer a more hands-on approach by the instructor, but using social media in the classroom does become easier and easier.

4. Confer with other colleagues who have used social media in the classroom. Look online, via Twitter and other places for tips and information. Likewise, does your university have a teaching center that offers workshops? Contact them and find out or suggest that you run a workshop!

5. Talk with the IT or Computer Help people on your campus. You might find out about new initiatives that they are willing to support.

Have fun and get out of your comfort zone!