Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being on a panel about blogging in academia. The panel is part of a weeklong course about teaching with technology, offered here at VCU. Four bloggers were on the panel, including myself and
- Jon Becker of Educational Insanity and twitterer extraordinaire, who blogs about education
- Britt Watwood of Learning in a Flat World, who blogs about his reflections on teaching with technology
- Terry Carter of Coming About, who blogs in the classroom
I am really impressed with my colleagues, who use blogs to perform scholarship and to take “peer review” to the next level (I used quotes because it’s not exactly peer review, although it’s certainly transparent). A lot of discourse and discussion can happen through non-traditional and technical channels. I can’t see this happening in scientific disciplines in the same way, but blogs (and technology in general) are changing academia. For example, I am very impressed with Cheryl Balls online tenure package blog (I saw this tweeted and retweeted by academics).
Most of the course participants were interested in using blogs in the classroom. After discussing the logistics of required students to write a blog and setting boundaries and grading criteria, several people noted the advantage: Students write much better on blogs, where their peers can read their writing (as opposed to only their instructor reading what they write). Students are more invested in the process, since the transparancy makes them more vulnerable. And when outsiders comment on their blogs, they have an “Ah ha” moment that hooks them.
Writing is so important in scientific disciplines, yet it is something that receives too little attention. And when it does, there is a lot of complaining. It seems like writing with technology (blogs or otherwise) could help students get excited about STEM fields as well as prepare them for all the writing they will do in their careers.
You can watch some of the events streamed live here. Unfortunately, they are not recording the sessions.