Student blogs are a lot more fun to read than papers, but they’re also more difficult to evaluate. The setup process has gone fairly smoothly so far, but it’s still been a lot of work. Reading a ton of blog posts every week can be really inspiring, but can also be draining.
The setup for my class is this: Each student will keep a blog. They’ve been assigned to “blog teams” and are required to comment on others’ blogs as well. There are minimum requirements they must meet to pass, but if they want to do well, they will have to post more regularly and engage more actively in their blog networks.
I’ve done a few things to ease the burden of reading, commenting on and grading 82 student blogs.
- I’m requiring students to post only 3 times a month. However, this is a MINIMUM requirement; a student who wants 100% on this assignment will need to do more than that.
- I’ve created very detailed written guidelines on possible blog topics, protocols for commenting, and evaluation criteria. Some students seem overwhelmed by this flood of information at the moment, but I hope they will find it useful as they get into the blogs.
- Rather than receiving a grade for each post (impossible!) or a single grade at the end of the term (as I did last time; totally overwhelming), students will receive a grade for February (and a face-to-face meeting for feedback), a grade for March, and a grade for April.
- I’ve decided to set aside a few minutes at the beginning of each class for blog concerns. Today we’ll go over the mechanics of putting up their first post and making their first comments; next week we will talk about the ins and outs of using images (including copyright issues.)
Their first posts are due on Friday. Do you have any advice? I love student blogs, but last time I used them, I thought the workload might put me in an early grave. What tips do you have for streamlining, responding, tackling problems, and otherwise making this assignment as effective as possible?
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