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.
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.
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:
- Simple and easy to use. A blogging platform that has a complex technical learning curve or requires coding and HTM knowledge to operate it will definitely not be the best option for you and your students.
- Supports various forms of content creation and sharing including videos, images, tables, posters, charts, graphs, presentations, and many more.
- Offers various privacy settings. You may want a blog that includes the ability to restrict readership to only specific people, for instance, those with the link or invited readers only. In this way, down the road if you decide to restrict your blog audience to only students and their parents you will be able to do so.
- Offers the possibility to add a custom domain name. The assumption is that when you first set up your classroom blog it will be under a subdomain such as: yourblog.edublogs.com. A blogging platform that allows adding custom domains will enable you to add your own custom domain name (e.g., www.yourblog.com) with the possibility to redirect the old URL to the newly created one. This is usually done for a small annual fee.
Free courses on blogging created by educators for educators (Edublogs)
Edublogs blogging resources and guides for teachers (Edublogs)