Recently (though not recently enough- my procrastination is legendary) we were assigned to read chapters 9 and 10 of Uses of Blogs. Chapter 9 author James Farmer glosses over the challenges of the subject and Chapter 10 author Jean Burgess only speaks from a teacher’s perspective. There is a hole here. And when I see a hole, I fill it.
What stuck out most to me in Chapter 10 was the following statement: “If students were required or encouraged to keep a Weblog for the duration of their degree, rather than starting and then dropping individual course Weblogs one by one, it seems more likely that they would treat their weblogs as authentically social spaces that are more meaningfully representative of them as individual learners, community members, and cultural citizens, thereby increasing student engagement with, and ownership of, the learning process” (Burgess).
Aside from my initial reaction during the transcription of that quote, which is “why do we have to capitalize ‘Weblog?'”, I had a vision. A vision of a world of post secondary education in which college students blog for the duration of their degree. Whatever little value is contained in writing formal papers could be preserved in a required formal writing or tech writing or whatever “This is how you write formal essays, just so you know” kind of class. Face-to-face (f2f) classes could be conducted in exactly the same way they currently are, but writing assignments are carried out online. As in, the specifications are posted online and the assignment itself is posted online. It can also be discussed and/or workshopped f2f. However- how are quality assessments usually presented to the student? In the form of comments written on their paper. This could just as easily be done online. Without getting down to brass tacks, suffice to say combining/integrating online communication and work with f2f class time (lectures, discussions, student communication) would be extremely easy- and with the written focus being online, we would achieve the reduced paper usage computers were invented to do.
The key is to leave the subject matter fairly open in liberal ed years of college (freshman and sophomore) because to achieve best results, students should only be blogging about that which they give a shit about. An issue I am running into here- I am not particularly interested in the history of blogging or their uses in academia, despite my intention to become a blogger. But we soldier on.
A blog would make a great portfolio of sorts and encourage a process of building on work- always adding and continuing, never throwing away or unnecessarily starting over. It would be visible to other students as well as the world- opening the possibilities for critiques to the entirety of the honest and unapologetic blogosphere.
As a student, Ms. Burgess? Great idea- let’s all have blogs on which to post our work for the entirety of our college careers, without sacrificing the benefits of physical class time. Hole filled.