Instructional Blogging On Campus: Identifying Best Practices
By Stuart Glogoff Sr
Consultant, Learning Technologies
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona’s Learning Technologies Center (LTC) provides
centralized support for instructional blogging and hosts blogs for administrative
units exploring new ways to provide information to students. In the instructional
arena, faculty are integrating blogs into both online and blended learning environments.
University administrative units are introducing blogging as a new communications
and marketing tool in an effort to reach undergraduate and graduate students
in more interactive ways. What, then, are successful academic blogging techniques?
Experiences collected during spring semester 2005 demonstrate this learning
tool’s versatility. Instructional blogging was used in a wide range of
courses including: Freshman Composition, graduate seminars in English and Philosophy,
an upper level Spanish conversation course, art appreciation, and MIS. The applications
are as varied as the disciplines adopting blogging. Faculty have introduced
blogging to: promote peer review, foster student-to-student, student-to-faculty,
and faculty-to-student interaction; discuss course readings; promote discussion
and public comment; address class concerns; extend learning beyond the classroom;
and develop writing skills because it encourages students to reflect on what
Several instructors have demonstrated successful instructional blogging practices.
A professor who used instructional blogging in two different undergraduate courses
recommends blogging as a way to extend learning beyond classroom meetings. From
his experience with discussion forums, he believes that 90 percent of his students
read forum posts but only 10 percent contribute to discussions in a meaningful
way. He replaced forums with blogs and discovered that more students participated
and that the quality of their contributions improved markedly. He attributes
this to students taking an increased ownership of their ideas and that with
their own blogs, students can not lurk as they can on forums. In terms of instructional
applications, this professor prefers to use classroom time to address more complex
concepts and found that blogs afford his students the opportunity to master
the simpler concepts outside the classroom. By addressing a student’s
needs through the blog before class meeting, blogging supported a “just-in-time”
A second example comes from the UA College of Nursing where a large part of
its graduate program’s traditional classroom instruction has been replaced
with fully online courses. Faculty are addressing how best to make the transition
from the physical classroom to one that is fully online and overcome the absence
of face-to-face experiences. Students in this discipline are studying to become
nurse practitioners and must make the transition from following a physician’s
instructions to making decisions and being able to explain why a particular
choice is made. The blog replaces classroom presentations and is now the central
place where students describe their first experiences as nurse practitioners.
This professor asks her students to incorporate images from their training facility
to personalize the virtual environment and classmates comment and share ideas.
She added that having the program online creates a need to find new ways for
students to derive a social benefit from their educational experience. Blogging
helps connect these students and may lead them to “feel like a Wildcat.”
This may be an important long-term use as well, because if these online students
identify positively with the college they may become donors in the future.
In addition to instructional uses, blogs are being used by administrative units
to promote student experiences and to provide information on services, resources
and specific programs. The MBA and Undergraduate Programs departments in the
College of Business and Public Administration, the Office of Enrollment Management,
the College of Nursing admissions office, and this summer’s new student
orientation programs are experimenting with blogs. In some cases current students
are recruited to write about their college experience and in other cases the
unit uses the blog promote its resources and share information. Not every endeavor
is successful. Engaging student volunteers to add entries consistently can be
a challenge. Ideas to remedy this in the future include paying students to write
a fixed number of blog entries each week and providing them with specific topics.
Feedback to student bloggers is important as well and units engaging is similar
programs should explore ways to add encouraging comments to student posts.
One of the most successful applications comes from the College of Nursing admissions
office where its blog gives “potential Master's, Post-Master's and Doctoral
applicants another resource to find and ask for information.” The office
has introduced “guest bloggers”--current students who share information
about themselves, their experiences as an online student, personal goals, and
advice for potential applicants. This type of blogging application has great
potential for adoption by many other campus units.
The LTC is constantly looking for ways to promote blogging on campus. Last summer
an attractive flyer and a
website were created to share positive
outcomes and highlight support services available to faculty. LTC staff regularly
interview faculty who integrate instructional blogging into courses focusing
on specific applications and the instructional benefits derived. These observations
are being used to document “best practices” which will be shared
Stuart Glogoff Sr. (email@example.com)and
Lelia Hudson will be presenting on Extending Instructional Uses of Blogs To
The Campus: A Case Study at the July 2005 Syllabus Conference in Los Angeles.
You can read Stuart’s blog at: http://blog.ltc.arizona.edu/stuartg/