Using blogs in a classroom is a very good vehicle for students to practice their critical thinking skills. Critical thinking can be exercised through analyzing what another person says, or using its principles to structure commentaries or essays for a more profound impact.
In my most recent workshop, a few of the participants mentioned their intention to have students write blog posts for class. I agree that this is an excellent way for students to practice the use of writing for professional expression.
But let’s think about the strategic placement of writing blog posts. Should this be done in a single course or throughout an educational program?
In my opinion, the benefit from writing comes from repeatedly having to do it over a longer period of time. For sure, there is some benefit from having a student write an isolated paper. That benefit, though, is limited mostly to learning more about the topic of the paper. Having a student write only a single paper does not help him or her work on strengthening writing and/or critical thinking skills. Developing and strengthening such skills takes repeated practice by the student and insightful feedback from the professor.
Such practice and feedback can occur either in a single course if it is dedicated to blogging, or throughout the entirety of an educational program if it is incorporated into every course. Today’s e-mail brings notice of the University of Calgary incorporating blogging throughout the entirety of a graduate education program. Students are expected to write blog posts in every course they take. Wow!
Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton writes the following in her blog post at Literacy, Languages and Leadership, “12 Tips to Incorporate Blogging into Your Classes.”
In a recent Master’s of Education course I taught at the University of Calgary, blogging was a required assignment for the students. The program coordinator (my boss) urged me to have the students blog as part of their course. She let me know that the students were enrolled in a graduate certificate program and that the course I was teaching was the first course of their certificate. She said that the certificate had been set up so that students would blog throughout their entire learning experience, as part of every course in their certificate.
I’ve heard some business professors mention that blogging might simply be incorporated as a component of their school’s course in business communications. I, however, think the benefit is much greater if using the approach employed at the University of Calgary.
Eaton’s blog post, “12 Tips to Incorporate Blogging into Your Classes,” serves as a useful reminder of implementation issues once the decision has been made to go ahead with blogging over a longer period of time. Students will need a blog site (I recommend WordPress.com). Although there are many issues, Eaton provides advice on the basic issues. It’s worth a read.
by David Albrecht
This post was originally published at The Summa on August 10, 2012.