Blogging serves the same essential functions as journaling. It allows learners to practice their writing in a low-risk setting. In my English 1301 and 1302 classes, learners use Tumblr to blog throughout the course of the class on a variety of class-related topics. These classes are fully online, and learner-instructor interaction is key for engaging learners. Blogging gives us a platform for learner-instructor interaction that isn’t weighed down by grades or grammar lessons, but is more about content and relationship building.
Digital literacy is an increasingly important skill for learners to have, and blogging helps increase digital literacy. Depending on the blogging platform you choose, learners will need to engage with a dashboard of some sort, a blogging launch tool, and possibly other social media tie-ins for publishing their posts. They’ll use a text editor and may be called upon to understand the basics of metadata, or tagging. Learners will learn to navigate the tool you choose, which will make it easier for them in the future to use again, or to learn other digital literacies that they come across in their education or careers.
Finally, blogging connects learners with their peers and the world beyond the classroom. Learner-learner interaction can be difficult to enact in online classes especially, but in face-to-face classes as well. Discussion boards do it well, but if you want another place for learners to interact with one another, blogs are a great option. Having learners read and comment on their peers’ blog posts helps them not only learn the interface for commenting, but also makes them think about where their peers are coming from with their writing, which in turn may increase self-reflection.
Blogging is a great tool for both online and face to face classes, and there are many reasons besides these to use this method in your classes. Have you ever had your students blog? Do you have them write journal entries? Would you consider using a blog for your classes? Sound off in the comments!