Thursday, January 13, 2011

Blogging in Higher Ed?

This semester I am fortunate enough to be teaching a course on Young Adult literature. This is a variable content course and we will be reading YA realistic fiction, starting with an eight-week survey of American YA and then spending six weeks on translated literature in order to understand how language, nation, culture, and history influence the presentation of "problem" to the teen reader.

Over the course of 14 weeks, the students will be reading 17 novels and 10 theoretical articles. That's a lot of varied material to cover in a semester and I'm not sure the material is suited to the six-eight short academic essay format I use in most of my literature courses. I am not fond of journals (too much "impression," too little analysis) or reader response assignments. And blackboard discussion lists have never worked well for me. I have decided to do a class blog for the first time in addition to three-four academic essays. There are approximately twenty five students in the course who will be responsible for 3 posts each and at least 10 comments over 15 weeks. This should make for an interesting blog as well as a good assignment!

I have been thinking about how to make sure the blog is not an "add-on" component to the course, but rather an integral part of class discussion. And, in doing some research I ran across Denise Harrison's "Can Blogging Make a Difference?" on the Campus Technology blog. Harrison's article clearly identifies several ways blogs can enhance the classroom experience. Here are two points in Harrison's article that resonated with me:

1. A blog allows for "the exposure of their posts to meaningful audiences, including other students, and a potential global audience, encouraged careful reflection and articulation of the subject." (p. 4) This is especially true when we consider the close-knit world of the kidlitosphere.

2. You have to bring the blog into the classroom, and the classroom onto the blog. (p. 5)

Have any of you used a blog in the classroom? What suggestions do you have for a first-timer?