For those of you who have been following the 8 Blog for the last 9 or 10 months, you know the power of this medium. By offering weekly posts connected to teaching and learning with technology, it has been my hope that you’ve been able to learn new ways to incorporate more online collaboration in your classes and to integrate new technologies that promote student reflection and creativity. Despite its meager beginnings, the 8 Blog has been read by over 1500 visitors from at least four different continents. August was the busiest month ever on the 8 Blog with over 300 visitors. Pretty amazing stuff.
I share these statistics not to pat myself on the back or to boast. Instead, I offer these data to demonstrate the reach of the blog format. Blogging is a new medium that gives writers instant access to a world of possible readers. Besides being an international forum for ideas, blogging can also be a tremendous tool for fostering reflection and higher order thinking. Blogging gives writers a voice and offers them a space to work through beliefs, opinions and thoughts. With all of its benefits, blogging has natural connections to our classes and to learning. Could your students be blogging in your class? Absolutely. You could offer weekly blog prompts that have students reflect on the material they learned that week. You could monitor their development throughout a course and see how their opinions and beliefs have changed. I’ve used blogging with several classes and I find I get to know my students better by reading their blog posts. I also get a better idea of the concepts I need to reteach or spend more time addressing instructionally.
If you’re new to blogging, you may be wondering how to get started. While there a variety of different blogging tools out there, Blogger and WordPress are two of the easiest blogging sites to use with a class of students. With both sites, you can add multiple authors and even set the blog so it’s only readable to the students in the class. This helps create a private community where ideas can be shared without worrying about the “world of readers” I mentioned earlier. If you’re using a Ning with your class, there is already a blogging feature within the site that works seamlessly with the rest of the network.
If you need some technical assistance setting things up, be sure to check out these resources.