Saturday, September 25, 2010

Disparity between on-paper/blog writing and students' romance on the blog

My students and I, are slowly but surely getting the hang of blogging. Some of the obstacles that came up this week-My request for students' blogs URLS went unnoticed by half of the class, which cut into our computer time/writing time. One of my students has a minimal knowledge of computer use and I found myself helping him work the mouse. Last but not least, I had to remind my students that their blogs are worth 40% of their final grade, and 10% of that 40 is basic maintenance and updating.
On the other hand, most students' blogs are turning out wonderfully. They are actively engaging with the assignments, composing insightful posts in response to quotes from the readings and one student in particular has not only created a wonderful theme for his blog, Zeus-father of gods and men,which is super great as the class theme is masculinities) but his posts go well above and beyond the required length. I'm so impressed with his work. If anyone gets a chance, check out his blog
But I have also noticed that the students' posts, in comparison to their diagnostic, are often lacking in basic punctuation, capitalization and spelling. Should I comment on this when I comment on the student's blogs or just mention it to the class in general (i.e. blogs are a reflection of the student's work as should be made presentable, yady, yady, yada)? Maybe I'm just expecting too much?
Another issue which is developing is that two of my students appear to be dating, and when I ask the entire class that each student comment on another student's blog, the female student makes comments such as "i'm hanging out with my bf" or "you[addressed to the boyfriend] can say whatever you like it's your blog". Maybe I'm blowing this way out of proportion but, I'm a bit concerned that the female in particular is not taking the class or the commenting on other students' blogs seriously. I mentioned, before these comments even made an appearance, to the entire class on the first week that their blogs are academic projects and the content posted there should reflect that. Any suggestions?


  1. Hey Miss B--

    Blogging, while engaging most students, brings its own set of issues, such as students that think they know how to blog because they have a MySpace page or an FB account.

    First you have to ask yourself what do YOU want them to do with the blogs: is it meant to be practice writing and brainstorming (my case); is it a portfolio, so the quality of the pieces can vary? Or should every piece be polished? (which makes the blog pretty high stakes)

    Once you have the answer, the answer will guide you on your individual conversation with the female student. On the other hand, if you don't feel like having that conversation, perhaps assigning groups to read each other's blogs will get her to comment less on her bf's blog--get her out of her comfort zone w/o making it be about her.

  2. I see much of the same the first few weeks, sloppy grammar, casual posting, texting from the phone, but then I have them evaluate one another (i have teams cross-evaluate) before I evaluate them and they can be pretty tough with one another. If your female student isn't taking it seriously, have several people who are taking it seriously evaluate her blog and then back them up with your comments (using the same language in your comments as theirs, etc.). I bet she'll snap to pretty quick. Most of our students have been trained to respond to peer-pressure much faster than they respond to authority.

    And get ready for inevitable break-up. Sigh.

    I checked out the Zeus blog. He seems to have found his niche! I'll be sure to follow his blog and comment!

  3. Of course, you could always have her read your blog entry! ;)

  4. Hey Magda,
    as was famously said, the medium is the message. When I blog here on community 2.0, I don't have the same sense of formality I would in a printed document which I would circulate among all seminar participants, and using blogger is the reason for the difference. There is a level of informality with blogs, which in my case relates to tone and in their case may relate to grammar (as opposed to the diagnostic which they perhaps see as tense, terror-inducing business). Same as X, I view blogs as a portfolio where certain pieces ("essays") will be polished.

  5. What most amazes me is that the female student wrote, "You," as rather than the ubiquitous "u." How old is the female student and when will she retire?

  6. On a more serious note :) I see much of the same thing even in essays and on mid-terms. I haven't had the students blog yet, but expect the same. One time I had students take a text message or blog, reflect on the theme and message and transform that into a formal essay. It actually worked...but that might be a coincedence. The bf/gf thing really detracts. I had a couple like that last semester. Ultimately although the male student was actually more skilled at writing, he fared worse in the course because he didn't take it as seriously. The competition between them actually worked in her favor...although I'm not sure how positive it was for their relationship.

  7. Blogs may not be as inherently formal as traditional academic writing, but they're still an engagement with audience, and that might be your point of entry for addressing the sloppiness issue. My impression from working with students is that, Narcissus-like, they see themselves reflected back in their computer screens and forget that they're writing for *other* people to read and not just navel-gazing. A discussion of digital audiences might help here, or, as Jason suggested, peer evaluations.

  8. I think we all have the same frustration...trying to get the students to understand that writing is still writing, and grammar and punctuation should always be considered.
    On another note, this generation prides itself (I'm a mother of someone in this generation) on being of constraints, restrictions. It is sort of a "no holds bar" concept. They really don't understand the concepts of need to conform to proper grammar and/or behavior. The worst example I can recall occurred when I was teaching at a small private school. I was teaching Powerpoint and web design. As such, I had the students write up a proposal for a "class" project (web or powerpoint) for a sales site.
    At least a third of the class suggested "porno" sites. One student even went so far as to say, "This site will show everything...girl with girl..guy with guys...animals.. whatever...all together...everything." Most of the students didn't see that this concept as a college based project was completely inappropriate. That is what we are sometimes up against.