Using Blogs In Your Teaching

An Instructional Technologist will be dropping in on the blog every now and then to provide faculty with tips and tricks for using technology for teaching!

This week, Nicholas Mattos, Instructional Technologist for the College of Communication and Fine Arts and the School of Film and Television wrote about using blogs in your teaching.

There’s an Instructional Technologist embedded in every college and school here at LMU, and they also work together to staff the Faculty Innovation Center on Level 3 of the William H. Hannon Library—they’re always happy to help you integrate technology into your teaching. And now, on with the blog! 

Blogs can be used to facilitate a variety of assignments, and there are a plethora of platforms available to instructors and students alike on the web. The act of blogging can be both the content and the learning activity in a course, depending on the discipline. In areas like communication studies, marketing, and public relations, blogging has become an important skill for connecting with customers and other stakeholders. In this blog I will discuss how blogs have been used by instructors to engage students at LMU. By providing examples of effective use, I hope to encourage other instructors to consider using blogs in their courses.

The blog tool in MYLMU Connect (Blackboard) allows students to post text, images, video and attachments for other students to view and comment on. There are 3 types of blogs in Blackboard: course blogs include all members of a course, individual blogs are posts by 1 person, but are viewable by all course members, and group blogs are private to the members of a course group. These settings cannot be changed once posts have been made, so you may want to read more about blogs at Blackboard’s help site. Instructors can setup as many blogs as they would like in a course, so these types can be mixed and matched, depending on the type and number of assignments. You could have one blog per assignment, or one for the whole course.

One way that course blogs have been used at LMU is in the Screenwriting Program. In many courses students are required to post their scripts for review and comment by other students. Generally one group of students will be responsible for posting each week, and another for giving notes to a certain number of classmates. The blogs allow students to upload and access the PDF scripts, as well as leave comments. The instructor can then synthesize these comments in class, or when meeting with students 1-1 about their projects. This type of blog could easily be adapted to most any writing assignment, where peer review is often useful.

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Blogging assignments are not limited to writing, and most blogging tools allow for images, videos, and other multimedia elements. Instructors in Studio Arts have experimented with a number of blogging platforms for a virtual sketchbook assignment, over the past few semesters. Drawing and painting students have been asked to keep a digital collection of exercises, assignments, reflections, and images of their works in progress to share with the class. These virtual sketchbooks are sometimes transitioned into more complete e-portfolios, or ways to showcase the artist as a working professional. So far these have been hosted in MYLMU Connect or Google Sites, but may include WordPress, Tumblr, Weebly, etc. in the future.
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These examples are just a few ways that instructors have used blogs in their courses. 

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