September 22, 2010
“Why should I use a blog in my course?” I’ve been receiving feedback lately from faculty who were adamant that the Discussion Board was king and blogs were basically useless for them — likely because they weren’t familiar with blogs and haven’t seen them used in an academic context. What’s the best way to respond to such a question? A little bit of googling brought me to an excellent post, Discussion Board vs. Blog from the EndUserSharePoint.com blog.
Author Dan Lewis differentiates some key attributes that distinguish a blog from a discussion board, which can apply to the use of these tools in higher ed:
- Organization: Lewis points out that blogs are organized chronologically, whereas discussion boards are organized by topic.
- Purpose: “A discussion board is used to solicit feedback from others and is a great tool for generating dialogue between users in a group. … A blog, however, is intended for a specific person or a specific group to post ideas, thoughts, and articles. Generally, the posts are considered expertise … A blog’s purpose isn’t to start dialogue, but is meant to deliver a message.”
I don’t totally agree with this last point — I think plenty of bloggers use their posts to spark dialogue, but he is dead-on when he says that blogs are meant to portray messages to readers.
He also gives a helpful, visual example of a scenarios where you might use each tool.
An instructor might use a discussion board to pose a question that students respond to and challenge each other’s thoughts on. Students might use blogs to discuss their research that semester, or synthesize their thoughts on topics presented in their course.
Thanks, Dan, for clearing that up!
July 27, 2010
Bill Ross, professor of mathematics, has embraced the blog as a platform for his newly created first-year seminar course, Nature of Mathematics. Inspired by Jake Kulstad’s workshop Blogging to Supplement Course Work, Bill created a Wordpress blog. It will stand as a web site housing his syllabus, lecture notes, assignments and references to required readings.
Bill’s extensive lecture notes section will undoubtedly serve as an invaluable resource to his students — and likely those outside the class who want to further their understanding of the mathematical concepts he covers.
As far as technology goes, Bill’s even tasked his students with creating several video proofs. I look forward to watching those and learning about the variety of technologies that students use to capture and produce them.
The semester hasn’t even started, and Nature of Mathematics has already become a model blogs for UR faculty using the blog as a course management tool.
July 21, 2010
In February of 2010, Scott Allison, professor of psychology at UR, wanted to start blogging on the characteristics of heroes to promote his new book, Heroes: What They Do and Why We Need Them, co-written with leadership professor George Goethals. To get started, he made an appointment with his technology liaison, Allison Czapracki, who presented him with blogging options and taught him some best practices of blogging, a little bit about HTML and Google Analytics, and ways to incorporate multimedia into the blog. Scott chose to use the Wordpress platform, and hit the ground running.
In just five months, he’s written 50 heroes pieces, reaching a worldwide audience on his blog and garnering nearly 3,000 Twitter followers. Congratulations, Scott!
In 2010-2011, Scott is integrating blogging into his two “Heroes and Villains” classes, a first-year seminar and a senior seminar that focus on the significance of heroes and how they shape society. Scott said that students in both classes will be required to read entries from and leave comments on the Heroes blog, and will be blogging about similar heroes and linking to Heroes posts.
To read Scott’s blog, check out Heroes Today.
Follow Scott on Twitter: @heroestoday