Blogging is a digital activity with immense pedagogical benefits for students. Besides developing a number of key multimedia literacy skills essential for thriving in the 21st century classroom, blogging also empowers students voice and helps them communicate more effectively.
Bloggins is also a medium for students self-expression. Knowing that there is an authentic audience (beyond their teacher) to read their work, student bloggers become motivated to write, learn, and share.
However, for blogging to be a pedagogically sound activity, teachers need to conceptualize it within a clear pedagogical framework that views it as an educational activity with clear objectives and a well defined rational.
To help you make the best of blogging in your teaching, here is a five-steps framework I designed to guide your blogging practices from the conceptual stage to the writing stage.
1- Outline clear pedagogical objectives
As a teacher, you need to clearly articulate the pedagogical goals behind using blogs with your students. To do so, you need to pose questions and contemplate different possibilities. A sample of questions to ask include:
What are the learning goals I want my students to achieve through blogging?What kind of literacies and skills will students develop through blogging?Should I allow students to produce blog content or should I restrict their blogging roles to simply sharing comments and feedback on teacher-generated posts?What kind of content will my students be allowed to share?Will the classroom blog be accessible to all students? Will it incorporate all voices and speak to different learning needs and styles?How about students privacy? Will I make my classroom blog open to everyone to see or restrict its readership to specific individuals?Who will take care of technical issues in case they arise down the road?How much time to be allocated to educational blogging?
2- Set out blogging rules and regulations
After deeply contemplating these questions your next step is to outline rules and regulations to regulate students blogging. This is better done through a collaborative participatory approach involving every student.
For instance, rise the idea of creating a class blog and invite students to come up with a list of do’s and don’ts to regulate their blogging activity. You can, for example, provide prompts or discussion starters and invite students feedback. You can even use feedback gathering tools to collect students ideas.
Whichever way you do it, make sure it is a collaborative teamwork. Students will show stronger commitment when they know their voices are taken into account and are part of the decision making process in class. A participatory approach will also boost students responsibility and enhance their sense of accountability towards their learning.
3- Explain concepts of digital citizenship and copyright
After outlining rules that regulate students blogging you need to attend to what I believe are the prerequisites of using any technology-infused activity with students. One of these prerequisites is making sure students understand their ethical obligations as responsible digital citizens.
This can be done through teaching them about the concept of digital citizenship. There are several educational resources to use in this regard including games, lessons, and activities. Students need to demonstrate a functional understanding of digital citizenship before they embark on any digital activity.
They also need to learn about the intricacies of copyright and fair use. Introduce them to the concept of creative commons licenses and and assign them different digital tasks to ensure they practice what they have learned. Make sure you share with them this list of resources where they can search for and access copyright friendly visuals to use in their blogging projects.
4- Create blogging rubrics
Now that students are informed about the ethical, technical, and pedagogical requirements involved in educational blogging, your next step is to design a list of evaluative criteria to assess students blogging.
Rubrics will help students understand your expectations behind integrating blogging in classroom teaching and will also guide their blogging practice. Choose which learning areas you want to grade and share the list with students so that they are aware of what is expected of them.
For instance, some of the areas you may want to focus on include content, writing mechanics and style, students voice, research skills, citations, timeliness, proofreading, etc. Check out this list of blogging rubrics to help you get started creating your own.
5- Choose a blogging platform
The last step in this blogging framework is concerned with the selection of the right blogging platform to build and host your classroom blog. Because it is an educational blogging experience that involves students, you need to be picky about your options.
More specifically, any blogging platform that you may want to consider should at least provide the following:
I have already reviewed 5 of the best platforms where teachers and educators can create their own blogs and websites. Check out the list to explore the options I included there.
Blogger in the classroom (Google)
Using Blogs in the classroom (University of Michigan)
Teaching with blogs (Vanderbilt University)