Matt Banner is a seasoned blogger and entrepreneur with a decade of experience in the online world of blogging, SEO, and marketing. You can find him online @BlastYourBlog.
Education is the foundation of our society. The things we teach the next generation directly affect their success. That’s why it’s always important to look for ways to improve and enhance the educational experience at every level.
Join us as we look at the power of blogging, and how it can be used to provide an educational experience like no other.
In 2013, teachers were already seeing the potential of technology in the classroom. A study by PBS found that 74% of teachers agreed that technology can motivate students to learn and give the teachers the ability to reinforce specific concepts.
Since then, online classes have skyrocketed in attendance and teachers have begun integrating educational blogging platforms into their curriculum. The results have been nothing short of remarkable. Let’s take a look at some of these benefits in action, and how you can start the process of implementing a blog in your classroom today.
Students often take notes on paper during class, but these rarely provide the kind of engagement that teachers want from their students. Often, students would never look at the notes again once they put them down.
The officials at Penn State saw this problem and decided to tackle it with blogging. Here, students used a custom platform called the Sites at Penn State, to replace notes with student-written blogs.
The students could write down their thoughts and present information in their own creative ways. For example, they could incorporate images to support their claims or even create hyperlinks to further reinforce their points, thus engaging with the subject much more deeply than they would if they were doodling notes. Priya Sharma, a Penn State associate professor of education remarked on the change saying:
“One of the biggest benefits to using blogging in class, is that students can interact with each other’s blogs. Plus, students don’t have to stop at just writing their posts. They can also add other media, like photos, videos, and links to other sources. The options for creativity and expression are much greater.”
Not only were students actively engaging with the curriculum, but they also started engaging with each other’s blogs. This kind of discussion is something teachers have long tried to create, but it’s difficult to actually get the ball rolling. With a blog, it all feels natural, and students have the tools they need to express themselves.
Furthermore, the ability to engage other students through comments and other blogs gives those who wouldn’t normally speak in class the opportunity to make themselves heard. Through the practice of writing, they can find their unique voice and instill confidence to enter the discussion since blogging is much less daunting that public speaking.
Sharma noted this as well in her experience:
“Students who are introverted tend to really like blogging. It gives them a voice and lets them express themselves in a way they might not want to do face-to-face. Those voices that might be missing in the class are very strong and present online.”
Comment systems are instantaneous. This gives students immediate feedback and allows them to respond in kind. It’s all very seamless and opens up opportunities for less outgoing students to join the discussion.
Blogging gives students the opportunity to learn valuable skills, including the ability to write in a variety of different scenarios. Furthermore, typing skills are required for most of today’s modern jobs. This is something students will gain with the use of computers to create their blog posts.
Michelle Lampinen, a High school English teacher at Biotechnology High School in Freehold, NJ, decided to implement weekly blogging into her classroom and the results were stunning. The created a lesson plan surrounding blogging that addressed several core stands, while still leaving freedom for the students to develop their own thoughts.
She applied enough structure to keep things together, but ultimately the lesson plan empowered students to write in a variety of different focuses and harness their own creativity to make it happen.
After trying this approach for some time, she noted that student’s writing skills had improved by, in her words, “leaps and bounds.” She noted that the student’s blogs were mature, insightful, funny, and engaging as well.
Improved grammar and punctuation was also noted, and the teacher saw these skills transfer over to formal work like literary papers. In addition to this, their persuasive writing skills received a healthy boost.
She surveyed her students to get their feedback, and the vast majority of responses were extremely positive. Students enjoyed the informal feel that blogging has, noting that it relieved the pressure of more formal writing assignments. They also liked that it forced them to write and hone their skills.
All of these skills also translated to more formal assignments. One example provided was blogging about archetypes in Kim Possible. That same student was able to draw similar comparisons in Pride and Prejudice without difficulty because they had blogged about the concept before.
This shows an increased ability to retain and apply skills as a result of the hands-on approach that blogging in the classroom offers.
So, how can you get started with this? It all begins with finding the right blogging platform for your needs.
There are several different blogging platforms directly intended for education:
Depending on your needs, these could easily provide the features you need. That being said, if you’re working with older students, I highly recommend WordPress. It can be set up for zero cost if you want to do a WordPress.com domain, and it has all the features experienced students would expect to find.
It’s also very easy to navigate and flexible for any kind of blog. Themes and plugins both come in free options that students can use to personalize their own blog. Once you have your platform in place, it’s all about how you want to utilize the technology.
Here are some options to get your mind rolling:
The only limit to classroom blogging, is your imagination.
As students build the roadmap for their education, it’s important that we, as educators, find new ways to engage them and make the most of their time and effort.