students teaching with blogs
One thing I’ve really liked in the student weblogs I’ve been grading is that there are a lot of posts that are really useful. It’s so different from exams where only the examiners are ever going to see all the work students have done. For instance, a colour blind student teaches other students and readers how to design sites that can be read by colour blind people (you’ll have more colour blind readers than readers using Opera or Netscape or needing websafe colours or any of those other things we fret about), another student explains how to make skins for your blog, one explains how to use php to join up separate html files. There are lots of comments from other students on the blogs, and questions are asked and answered and there are links to and fro and they’ve just done a really impressive job.
Here are some things I did right, I reckon, in the blogging section of the course:
- Required different kinds of blog post in the final portfolio: an analysis of a website, a reflective/theoretical post about the web and communication, a technical post (which generated a lot of the teaching posts) and an evaluation of another student’s site.
- Did a fair amount of blogging in class.
- Ditto for comments and linking to each other’s blogs.
Of course there are things I could have done better, too:
- Specified just what, exactly, I expected, much earlier in the semester.
- Done more in-class blogging earlier.
- Worked out a less traumatising way of starting blogging than having each student install MoveableType themselves the first week of semester. I don’t know how I’ll do that next spring. It’s excellent that they have control of their own blogs, and MoveableType has a lot of good features that we’ve used since, but it was a really rough way to start the semester and the many students who had problems certainly didn’t feel very at ease with their blogs. Little confidence was gained.
- Done something about the curriculum – I didn’t use it very well. However, students have found and read and written about a lot of other material themselves, and that’s good. Perhaps more of the curriculum can be self-defined by students next time round.