This semester, I instituted a multi-authored blog in my Politics of Reading course. I’ve written before about how I think blogging can be a powerful teaching tool to use in the classroom. And I’ve also noted that I’ve had a decent amount of experience with it that I felt pretty comfortable in understanding what it took to get this thing organized and running well (see here for my thoughts on how to organize a class blog)
I was nervous at first.
I was nervous that I had missed some detail somewhere along the way that would cause the entire thing to crumble. I just had these weird visions – based on absolutely nothing – that this thing would bomb out.
But it hasn’t.
Overall, the writing has been interesting and solid. Yeah, there’s been some wonky posts here and there but that’s the case with any author on any blog. I’m sure I have a few on this one that I would be less than proud of. Students have done well writing for an audience. They have been able to write in such a way that an outsider should be able to understand them. That’s a hard thing to get your head around, and I’m super proud of them for making it happen.
As I’m writing this post, we’ve had a total of 841 views since we started mid-January. We’ve been running just a little over two months. I’m pleased with that. Yes, I know that some of these views are our own, but not all of them. Most of our views come from the U.S., but we have had visits from other countries including Australia, Mexico, and Spain.
Want to see our top three posts so far?
Go check’em out to see why these are the Top Three at the moment.
If there’s anything I see as a flaw at the moment it’s lack of promotion. Our views could be higher. I suspect I am the only one who is promoting this blog by and large. And that’s ok for now. I thought about how I might work promotion into what we do but it seemed like to much given that there was so much that was new to me in teaching this course for the first time. I’m going to have to work on getting students to promote the blog more the next time I teach this class.
As we move into April, the course will start to wind down. Students will continue to post until April unless they saved their freebies until the end. Each student gets to select two weeks where they don’t post – no questions asked, no reason needed, no points deducted. It’s a simple way to recognize that things happen, but I don’t necessarily need to know what those things are. Additionally, by allowing students to identify when they don’t want to blog I put the power in their hands. No make-up posts allowed. I am not the judge and jury for if you get to write an extra post based on whatever your excuse was for not writing one in the first place.
I encouraged my students to save their buy-outs for a true emergency or just use them the last two weeks of the course. I think most students have been able to save them until the end so we’ll likely see a drop in posting soon. And FYI: If you have students blogs in any capacity this is the way to go. Let them decide when they don’t post and don’t deal with the headache of make-ups. It works beautifully.
The final exam though requires students to write two essays. I will give them four questions, and they can select any two. Those essays will be used as blog posts allowing us to continue the posting on through May.
Then the blog will be done for a bit. The next version of the course won’t start up until January 2016. I’ll keep the blogging assignment, and I’ll have them use the existing site, but I hate that it has to come to a halt for awhile. One of the key aspects of blogging is blogging. Regularly. At a minimum, that means once a week in my eyes.
But I would love to find a way around this. I would love to find a way to keep the blog going while allowing students to get some sort of credit for their work. So my brain is turning with some ideas to explore. I haven’t landed on anything yet, but it’s turning.