The term “blog” is shorthand for “web log.” Blogs are easy-to-publish websites consisting of entries that are organized and displayed in chronological order. Entries are often referred to as “posts,” and can include personal commentary, links to other websites, images, and even video.
A blog can have one or many contributors, but each entry is written by only one author. Generally, once an entry is submitted, only the author can edit the original post, with the exception being that the blog administrator has the ability to edit or remove inappropriate content. Blogs have the functionality to allow readers to comment on individual posts, as well as the ability to subscribe and to tag posts with keywords.
Because they are organized chronologically, blogs are commonly used for personal journaling—similar to the way a traditional journal or diary would be used, but published publicly on the internet.
Blogs can also be used to create an online community for people with the same interests by linking to other blogs and websites that pertain to a topic that is of interest to a group.
Blog Pros & Cons
|Ability for novices to quickly and easily publish content to a website.
|No vetting of content; individuals searching for information about a topic may encounter a website that may be written by an author who has no credibility regarding that particular subject.
|New content can be posted from just about any computer that has access to the internet, and (depending on the blogging software) is usually as easy as typing words into a text box or word processing program
|Unmediated unless a blog administrator exists that can edit or remove inappropriate or incorrect information, it will remain on the Web for anyone to access.
|perfect platform for disseminating up-to-the-minute information
|Quick and easy posting leads to entries that are more informal in nature than traditional publications. The informal nature also gives users the freedom to write what they wish, which can lead to more open conversation about topics and increased information sharing.
|Published content is searchable, making it easy to find others who are sharing information about similar topics.
Blogs for Assessment
Blogs are also useful assessment tools. Examples include:
- A student is required to maintain a blog detailing their internship experience for a course. The professor periodically reads these blogs, making comments about the internship and the writing itself. At the end of the course, the student receives a grade for the blog assignment.
- The same student is required to maintain a blog detailing their internship experience, but instead of the professor reviewing the blog, the other students in the class are required to read and to comment on their peers' blogs.
- Communicate expectations for how the blog should be used by students. Give students guidelines and examples of what you expect in a typical post.
- Consider giving students a quick lesson in “netiquette” to ensure that they understand how to communicate effectively using the digital medium.
- Remind students to keep their audience in mind. If the blog they are publishing to is made available to the public, it is important that they know that when crafting entries. A student writing for a public audience may feel less comfortable sharing personal details than if they were writing for an audience of only classmates. Similarly, a student who is writing for the public may also want to provide more detail and background information so that a member of the public audience can understand the background information that is being discussed in the class.
- Give students a low-stakes/no-stakes opportunity to experiment with the blogging technology.
- if students will be assessed on their contributions to a blog, consider providing a rubric for students to know the criteria on which their contributions will be evaluated.
Bransford, J. D., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (2000). (Eds.), How People Learn: Mind, Brain, Experience and School, Expanded Edition. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. (Co-author).
Foggo, L. (2007). Using blogs for formative assessment and interactive teaching. Ariadne, 51. Retrieved from http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue51/foggo/
Smith, E. J., Mills, J. E., & Myers, B. (2009). Using wikis and blogs for assessment in first-year engineering. Campus-Wide Information Systems, 26(5). Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1823928&show=html