I listened to a short but
informative talk (recording link at bottom) on developing blog activities by a Brad Ovenell-Carter, an English prof at SFU. It struck me when he suggested not to grade blogs. In turn he found not assessing blogs gave his students the freedom to post their thoughts in unrestricted ways. I love the idea.
However, his students were graduate students in a liberal program, who seemed to respond favourably to the idea of grappling with ideas. Once they moved past the notion of composing blog entries according to their professor’s wishes their entries became longer, richer and more spontaneous.
One way he found to engage students was to blog along side of them as well as comment on their blogs. This seemed to create an open and connected dialogue through a developed virtual network. As well, he tracked the level of thinking in their blogs through Bloom’s taxonomy and found they were analyzing writings and synthesizing their arguments based on the assigned readings.
I plan to ask my students (college level) if they would prefer this; however, though assessed I find they are not readily posting to the discussion board. I do assign marks for this activity, not to penalize, but to reward them for posting their thoughts. Posting their ideas extends their work beyond the classroom where they take time to search for information, read, reflect and share their ideas.
I am still trying to find ways to make online work an interesting and rewarding learning experience.