Bee points me to an excellent short list of DO’s for blogging in education, or rather for using blogs with students. Posted by the amazing James Farmer.
In particular, these 2 points caught my attention as they nicely capture something that I’ve been thinking about here and here.
You must incorporate blogs as key, task driven, elements of your course – This may sound obvious but simply providing blogs to learners and saying ‘Hey, use them however you want’ is an absolute guarantee of failure as all but 1 or 2 people will take you up on it. Significantly here that I’m not saying assessment… you can provide non-assessable but socially motivating tasks, as long as they form part of class activities (i.e. competition for best designed blog with each participant presenting for 3 minutes) but they don’t have to be parts of assessment, and talking of assessment…
You should use assessment tasks that incorporate subversion – One of the worst things you can do is mandate posting on particular topics with particularly rigid frequency… you’ll over-assess & kill off exactly what blogs are good for: personal expression & exploration. By all means say that you’re expecting a post a week… or ever more, but let people approach this in ways that fit them and set tasks that allow for deviation and subversion. Never, ever, mention number of words!
James neatly captures a combination of giving learners their head, letting them off the reins (“let people approach this in ways that fit them”) and recognizing that no direction is worse than useless (“simply providing blogs to learners and saying ‘Hey, use them however you want’ is an absolute guarantee of failure”).