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Author: Dave Yearwood

blogging assignments
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ost online instructors fall back on tried-and-true writing assignments and the LMS discussion forum to facilitate student engagement with material. But papers do not provide the opportunity for students to engage with other students on their ideas, and discussion forums track the conversation into pre-established directions. Blogs combine the best of both worlds. Like assignments, they allow students to write in depth about an issue, and like forums they allow students to discuss ideas with one another. Plus, blogs allow students to express themselves more personally because they are not focused on following formal rules of academic writing expected of papers. This can make for more authentic expression of the student’s thinking. I have had considerable success with student blogging in my online courses. Here’s how I structured it. Students are put into groups of three, with one student from each group assigned to do a blog posting in response to a question prompt each week, while the other two students in the group respond to it. The roles are rotated each week, and the groups reassigned every three weeks so that students work with as many other students as possible. This format ensures that students always receive feedback on their blog postings, which doesn’t always happen when all students are assigned to blog at once. Each week a pod/vodcast was developed by the instructor to introduce students to the chapter content or a problem drawn from the chapter that they were to explore, and each group was assigned a question. See a sample list of questions below:

 Tech-300 — Group Blog Discussion Questions for Week 5 This week’s chapter focuses on The Diffusion of Technology. Below is a listing of the questions for the blog discussion for week 5

Group 1

Chapter 5 suggests that technology knows no boundaries. Fair statement? Why? What is it about technology that makes it so transportable and what is its appeal?

Group 2

Volti discusses the concepts of portability with regard to technology. In what way(s) do nation-states perceive other people’s technology and what are some possible reactions that they may have to foreign technologies? In addition, what role do foreign countries play in support of our technology?

Group 3

Which technologies can you think of that are purely an American creation and which are not (be sure to provide evidence if you claim a technology as an American invention)? What role do foreign countries play in support of our (US) technology development?

Group 4

Try to trace the development of a given technology? What would a timeline look like for this technology and explain how the identified technology would make its way from R&D to manufacturers, to consumers?

Group 5

How do we in modern societies obtain our technologies and what role do other countries play in quenching our thirst for technology? Provide an example to explain your staked-out response to the question

Group 6

Volti talks about clever copyists who replicate other people’s technology. In examining the text and after thinking about what he writes, what sort of skills are required for the successful copying of a technology developed elsewhere and why do you think that the Japanese have been so successful at making effective use of technologies that first appeared elsewhere?

Group 7

Most economically advanced countries have technical assistance programs that are used to upgrade the technological levels of poorer countries. Under what circumstances might these programs be harmful and how might the programs that were designed to help these poorer countries be shaped to better meet the needs of the poor countries?

Within each group one person is designated as the facilitator each week. The facilitator makes the initial post by giving his/her perspective about the question based on information from the text and finishes with asking a question, usually to get peer response. Sometime the facilitator will add information not found in the text that sheds some light on the discussion question or ask if anyone in the group have clarifying information. Students in the group are expected to continue the discussion. If the discussion is not going well, I will either made a direct post with other probing question(s) or encourage the facilitator to make that post. Over time, I found that I did not have to do too much prodding. At the end of each week after the blog is wrapped up, facilitators are asked to develop an overall summary statement and question and summary statements for each weekly group. Summary statements are kept short with bulleted points. Students are also informed that this material should be used as a review for the midterm test. It is important that faculty carefully review all summary statements for accuracy before they’re posted to the LMS for class use. The rubric below provides information about what was expected and how students would be graded. While the full rubric was used to develop students’ grades, only a summarized rubric of their scores for that week was sent to individual students.

BLOG RUBRIC—Evaluation conducted every week Minimum Number of Posts: At least two substantive post in addition to comments/responses to peer’s posts every week.







Overall Use of Blogs (10 points)

Blog entries amount to no more than simple retellings of personal event(s) unrelated to chapter topics in the text and peers’ postings. No comments are made on the blog of peers.

3 Points

Almost all required blog entries and comments have been completed: at least one substantive post on personal blog; and at least one post to a peer’s blog; however, the quality of entries could be improved for the content covered in the text.

7 Points

At least two entries and one peer comment have been submitted weekly, though not all of them may give evidence of substantial contributions. Reasonably fair coverage of content covered in the text.  

8 Points

At least two or more blog entries and comment to peers’ blog are submitted, all of which are substantial. Your blog includes many good reflections about content covered in the text and comments posted in peers’ blogs.

10 Points

Intellectual Engagement with Key Concepts

(10 points)

Blog entries make no reference or comparisons to issues raised by Volti.  

8 Points

Blog entries make some reference to issues raised in Volti and others knowledgeable on the subject.  

7 Points

Blog entries demonstrate awareness of multiple key issues raised by Volti, other professionals.  

8 Points

Blog entries demonstrate engagement with the important issues raised by Volti and others who have expertise in the subject.  

10 Points

Personal Response to Key Concepts

(8 points)

Blog entries show no personal connection to the issues/concepts raised by Volti and/or issues raised in class by instructor or peers.  

2 Points

Blog entries convey some evidence of a personal response to the issues/concepts raised by Volti.    

5.5 Points

Blog entries convey evidence of a personal response/connection to the issue(s) raised by Volti and demonstrate that the author is capable of reflecting on issues associated with technology and society.

6.5 Points

Blog entries convey extensive evidence of a personal response to the issues raised by Volti and demonstrate the author's growth through reflection on issues associated with technology and society.

8 Points

Engaged Writing

(2 points)

Blog entries use incorrect grammar and syntax consistently, making it difficult for others to follow. No links* are included connecting your thoughts to those of others.

0 Points

Blog entries demonstrate some evidence of correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. Audience will have little trouble reading your blog. An occasional link* is included.  

1 Points

Blog entries show a good command of Standard English. No problems for your audience. Most blog entries include links*.    

1.5 Points

Blog entries show a very good command of Standard English and have some flair and originality. Blog entries contains multiple links*.    

2 Points

The instructor’s role is to monitor the conversations for accuracy; point out inconsistencies or inaccuracies to the facilitator on the side, usually via e-mail; and provide an outsider’s perspective. I also participated in select blog groups and encouraged students publicly or privately via e-mail. I noticed that students appeared to like this supportive role whether they were serving as facilitators or participants in the blog. Because students were asked to keep posts to a reasonable length, I found it easy to review posts and I think students did as well. Students find blogging a refreshing alternative to the traditional “assignment and discussion forum” format of online courses. Try adding them to your courses. Dave Yearwood is a professor of technology in the School of Entrepreneurship at the University of North Dakota.