Ten years ago, the meaning of the word blog would be unknown in many households. Today, it’s one of the popular buzz words among writers, internet search engines, and popular figures. A blog is a form of a website that allows the user to combine simple text, pictures, links, and media in a single or an ongoing post. As of July 2011, BlogPulse (www.blogpulse.com) has identified more than 165 million blogs in existence.
Anyone can write a blog and publish its content for personal or professional endeavors. This form of self-publication has many benefits, including academic advantages for students; but, not entirely embraced by higher education. However, there are many benefits to incorporating blogging in the classroom that positively impact student learning.
1) Blogging encourages creative expression. When I blog, I often search for creative and engaging means of expressing my thoughts, opinions, or stories to a following audience. By allowing a student to personalize their blog, they have a sense of pride and ownership; thereby, naturally taking a better initiative to give more thought and express meaningfully the content contributed towards their assignment.
2) Blogging encourages kinesthetic reflective learning. Professor Marian Diamond’s, University of California, Berkeley, research includes the effects of “external environments, again, and immune responses on the cerebral neocortex” (Department of Integrative Biology, n.d.). Her research and understanding of the human brain in external learning environments demonstrates a direct correlation with reflective, kinesthetic learning to overall retention and application of new knowledge (UCBerkeley, 2007). Blogging naturally allows students to reflect on new material and apply through a written application process. This repetition through a process of kinesthetic learning engages students and also allows an ongoing record of their learning to be encapsulated.
3) Blogging can give students a following audience. This audience can not only give valuable feedback but also encourage professional writing to a wider audience. Giving students a wider audience, than the instructor solely, ‘raises the bar’ for students and gives them a venue to develop important communication skills. In order for a student to ascertain their beliefs and thereby defending them, which can often times be tricky but a valuable skill to have as an upcoming professional.
4) Blogging prepares students for their career field. As technology advances, it is not unanticipated to expect employers to desire potential or current employees to have the tech savvy skills to function in a 21st Century technology driven world.
5) Blogging is fun! Students, by my experience, would prefer blogging over writing traditional papers for reasons mentioned in this blog post, in accompany of their own personal preferences. What we need to understand is Millennials grew up with technology and the digital divide between older and younger generations becomes greater. As instructors, we must find unique and creative ways to engage students. This doesn’t mean we abandon solid pedagogy, but what is does require is that we continue to understand how students learn so we give them an opportunity to be successful.
I have given five solid reasons why blogging should be incorporated into post-secondary curriculum. Next week, I will compare popular blogging platforms that are free and easy to use. As the instructor, you will be able to make a better decision on the one that suits you and your instructional needs best.
Department of Integrative Biology, n.d. Dr. Marian C. Diamond [Website]. Retrieved from http://ib.berkeley.edu/people/faculty/profiles/more/mdiamond.php
UCBerkeley (2007, August 20). Integrative Biology 131 – Lecture 01: Organization of Body [Video file].
Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9WtBRNydso&feature=player_embedded