Why Teachers Should Encourage Students to Blog
Type: Technology Ideas for the Classroom
Many teachers don’t realize the benefits that can come from student blogging. These teachers may even have blogs themselves, use them in creative ways, such as communicating with other staff members and parents, delivering interactive content for students, and so on. So why wouldn’t we want to extend these same benefits to students?
Here are a few reasons why your students should blog:
1. Paperless Classrooms!
If for no other reason, set up blogs for your students to get rid of some of your overflowing file folders and save a few trees. It seems rather silly to make students go home, type up an assignment in a word processor, then print out that report and hand it in. The report is already in digital form, so why are we moving a step backward and making them print this out? Post that assignment on a blog! Then rather than shuffling through papers later, you can just view their assignment on their web site. With RSS readers, it becomes a fairly simple process to aggregate all the student’s blogs and instantly receive the latest student posts without having to go hunt for them.-
2. Students Enjoy Having Their Own Space
77% of students age 16 to 18 have a profile on a social networking site, such as Myspace, Facebook, Bebo, or Xanga. One reason they are popular is because students have the ability to create their own space on the web, and customize it how they want. They can upload their own photos and videos to share with others, communicate with others, and post updates about their own lives.
3. Interacting with the World
You could actually just have your students email their assignments to you, and achieve a paperless classroom this way. But then they’d be missing out on an important part of blogging: the global community.
Imagine you are the recipient of an award, but there are only two people there to see you win it: you and the award-giver. How much more exhilarating would it be to have a large audience watching and cheering you on? So why is our system:
- Teacher gives assignment.
- Student goes home, completes assignment.
- Student hands assignment to teacher.
- Teacher grades assignment.
- Teacher gives assignment back to student.
How many people have seen the student’s assignment? Exactly two, the teacher and student. How rewarding is it for a student to know that the only person who will ever see the project they worked so hard on is their teacher?
Now consider the possible wider level of interaction using a student blog:
- Teacher gives assignment on the Civil War.
- Student posts assignment on the blog.
- Classmates leave comments on the assignment, ask questions, offer insights, and link to their assignments for cross-commenting.
- Parents see and proudly enjoy the work their kids have done.
- Students from 500 miles away find the assignment, post encouraging remarks, and share a similar project they did in class.
- Teacher leaves comments on the assignment.
- Teachers from other schools across the country find the assignment, leave insightful comments, and perhaps a helpful video that complements the assignment.
- Friends of the student find the assignment, and post their own remarks.
- Civil War history buffs find the assignment, share links to supplemental material, and mention an upcoming Civil War exhibit that will be showcased near the student’s hometown.
- A museum curator finds the assignments, and posts a link to the class blog on her own web site, driving more visitors to the student’s blog.
Count the number of readers the student’s assignment has passed on to now, noting the plurals. This one student now may have an audience of hundreds. The student’s blog has stimulated an entire topical discussion. They have started a conversation with an online community, and a larger audience. Better rewards.
Students LOVE getting feedback from their peers. A huge chunk of their lives revolves around this social interaction, and blogs can encourage this. When you encourage students to blog, you are giving them a voice, and encouraging them to share that voice with the world. It’s a great way to motivate them to finish their homework! So break down the walls of the classroom and connect them to like-minded individuals around the world.