blogging your students half to death

Well, in the midst of another very chaotic first week, I seem to have successfully introduced courseblogs for both my graduate and undergraduate classes this term.  Unsurprisingly, the most difficult part of this was simply signing people up, a process still not complete for the undergrad class.  UPDATE and CORRECTION: Some students had been inadvertently choosing the “gimme a blog” option instead of the “just a username” at signup, which had caused a few people to create blogs at the same time as their accounts.  Hopefully, this leetle teeny teaching glitch has been fixed for good.

 The most interesting thing I’ve noticed is the fact that alert students are able to pick up on very tiny, very particular details in the online materials and run away with them.  They focus on these questions a lot of the time, rather than the big picture questions I lay out during lectures.  Although there’s a potential for serious digression, such comments are a challenge to respond to.  They also suggest that some people are already “getting” the course framework and trying to extend it, while others are still trying to absorb all the information, which includes Swift of course.  Some interesting crosstalk already developing in the grad course, too.


6 responses to “blogging your students half to death

  1. You don’t have to have a blog to get a account. On the sign up page (at the bottom) you choose between “gimme a blog” and “just a username”. Even for students it’s not that difficult to understand, surely?

  2. dave mazella

    Well, no one would ever hire me as their tech consultant, that’s for sure.

    And I didn’t mean to imply that was at fault here.

    It’s just that my students clicked on that “gimme” option without understanding where it would lead, or what would happen afterwards, or how to explain what had happened. (my handout specified that they choose the username, so go figure)

    That was the point I should have reiterated, and didn’t, when I was trying to figure out how 4 or 5 people were left wondering where the course blog was.

    So we’re all learnng right now. And it’s not always easy predicting what these students know or do not know when they walk into the classroom.



  3. Ahem – sorry for the grumpiness there, Dave.

  4. dave mazella

    Hey, no problem, Sharon. DM

  5. he he, this situation seems pretty funny to me. I haven’t introduced the blog to my students, primarily because I’m afraid of where it will lead. I have a “discussion forum” on our Blackboard site and sometimes it’s pretty successful, though students inevitably have problems figuring out how to post, etc.
    The other problem, as you allude to here is the focus on what I call the “minutiae” of history. Teeny, weeny, little off-the-beaten-path comments in our readings are given a new status as central (I don’t know why, perhaps because dates are associated with them? and students like dates?). The big picture, the larger conceptual framework, gets lost.
    Having said that, I will now say that that one of the strengths of employing the online discussion forum for students is that it gets them to think more critically the relevance of the details to that larger picture. Out of the classroom, in open conversation with each other, they talk through the readings and reach consensus about significance.
    Thanks for posting this. Keep us updated on the students’ progress!

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