In the age of Twitter, is the blog obsolete? Well, I hope not – we’re obviously rather partial to blogs around here!
There is something to be said for the longer form of the blog, especially as a teaching tool. Blogs are great spaces for reflection (on the course, an assignment, a site visit), for experimentation (to try writing in the voice of a character, to showcase work in progress), and for collaboration (comments, the ability to easily add and share links). Additionally, blogs can be stand-alone assignments or used as part of the preparatory writing process for other course items, like term papers. Of course, blogs aren’t the only places to do any of these things, but – depending on your course, your objectives, and your learners – they might be a place that makes sense.
This is a nice article about how to get the most out of student blogs and instructional blogging. As the article points out, getting comments on blog posts is what elevates them from web pages to interactive discussions. In order to get discussion going, some professors make commenting a requirement (similar to the discussion board commenting requirements may online courses have). Why use a blog, then? According to the article, students report that “blogs facilitated learning from one another, and helped them learn new electronic media skills that could be applied in other settings.”
Here is a more concrete step-by-step guide to getting started with blogging with students. This list outlines the basic steps, but leaves it up to you to chose the best platform and set the appropriate parameters.