Steven D. Krause
Following on the heels of the internet and emailing, is the process of blogging. It would seem to be a very convenient option for writing teachers to employ – allowing students to read each others’ writing, write collaboratively, respond to readings for class, etc. However, using blogs may not turn out the way you hoped it would – it may even fail, as in my case. Part of the fault lies with me because I wanted to leave the assignment very open-ended and so students did not really know where to go with it. They certainly weren’t writing for the sheer love of it. Posts were all over the map, different lengths, different topics – it may have been that no one was even reading the others. And so, when the time came that a student was really passionate about and wanted to communicate with her peers concerning an article that they had read, she sent a message out on the email list. Perhaps she thought that was a more definite way of making her voice heard, recognizing the futility of the blogs in generating discussion. It did work and over half of the class responded. This isn’t to say that blogs don’t work, because they can. But a couple guidelines are in order: 1) Be more specific with the assignments. Telling students what you want and maybe even what to write on will help generate better postings. 2) Periodically have students read their peers work and comment in some way – whether directly on that person’s page or in a personal reflection. 3) Don’t give up on email, even though it’s been around longer. Students may feel comfortable with its more casual approach and its direct access to a place they know it will be seen – others’ inboxes!