Using blogs and wikis in class?

Posted: April 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’m taking a graduate class on giving professional development, and the topic I have chosen to focus on is incorporating more engaging activities into my developmental college students’ computer lab time. Rather than only using the publisher’s program that comes with readings and skills to master by answering multiple choice questions on topics such as stated main idea, implied main idea, making inferences, determining fact and fiction, and determining tone and purpose, I’m thinking that incorporating social media outlets like blogs and wikis would be more engaging, motivating, and authentic.

I obviously have experience putting together a basic blog, but I am brand new to wikis. My professor gave us some time in class to attempt to create a wiki, so I got a very rudimentary feel for what a wiki is, but I still have a long ways to go. I wonder if I could somehow incorporate Twitter into instruction in my developmental reading courses? I love Twitter and have found great resources and met many people who have shared interesting perspectives and given me great advice.

Exploring outlets like blogs, wiki, and other forms of social media sounds exciting, but the incorporation also requires careful planning. An educator cannot simply create a blog, post a discussion starter, and expect students to make things happen.

Detailed explanations of expectations must be set in order to make a blog successful. I have learned this through trial and error with my students. When asked to respond to another student’s blog post, students may respond by saying “i agree.” Notice that (1) the response is only two words long (2)”I” is not capitalized, and (3) there is no evidence that the student even read the blog post at all. Students may provide a little bit more information with a response such as, “I agree babies catch on to what adults do.” Notice that (1)this is a complete sentence consisting of nine words (2) “I” is capitalized and spelling and punctuation are correct, and (3)this response does not show evidence of higher level or critical thinking.

Just as with other strategies, students need to see modeling of what is appropriate before they can be expected to perform tasks independently. This not only applies to blogs, but also to any other forms of social media that are incorporated into instruction.

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