Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One Centralized Blog v. Many Individual Blogs

As we are doing here in Community 2.0, I am now using a "one shared class blog" model instead of having students each create their own blogs.  The reasons for doing so are threefold:

  1. My ESL097 students have a lower level of writing and comprehension than some other levels I've worked with, and I wanted to make the use of a blog in class easy for them.
  2. I have liked how the communal blog works for Community 2.0 - and I feel that I am more likely to read through everyone else's posts when they are all in one centralized location, rather than needing to click links to visit separate sites.
  3. I wanted to try something new - I have been having students create individual blogs for the past few semesters.
I have been waiting to see how it is going before posting anything about the difference.  My biggest issue at first was that there were no computer labs available - so the first few weeks of class, I didn't have access to a lab.  I had students look at the blog and Blackboard on the first Lab day in a computer lab, but felt that it would be hard to help and support students enough without a class day in a computer lab.  I just got the great news, last week, that I could have a lab for 2 hours on Thursdays, and so we had our first class day in a lab last week and it helped immensely to be able to troubleshoot with students, get a few of them on the blog who hadn't been able to yet, and to help monitor the way they were doing commenting.  With the lab that I will now have weekly, I will finally be able to confidently give blog assignments.

At first, some students didn't understand how to do their own posts (and were instead doing "comments"), but I think we have worked out the kinks and students now know how to both post their own posts and comment on others'.

In some ways, I think that the centralized blog is much better.  Everyone goes to the same site, can easily see each others' posts, and can immediately compare the length of their writing with others.  Some posts look much shorter than others, and I hope that this encourages students to write a little bit more.  On the other hand, do students feel that they "own" this site like they do when creating and designing their own blogs?

So far, so good... so I will simply have to wait to see the results from the whole term!



  1. Well, maybe you could have a blog entry contest as to what the blog should look like and the winner gets to decide... or you could have a vote and change it every so often. Anything that helps create a sense of community.

    I guess this means that if anyone in Community 2.0 does not like this background, you better tell me! ;-)

    1. Ximena, I Love the background! Love IT & I hope you have a fab weekend!

    2. I also really like the current background! ;)

  2. I have done this concept from the beginning, the only issue I have with it that the posting all get integrated among one another and I had to work out a chart to keep track for grading purposes of all the postings. The blog gets very very long as the semester goes along. However, that being said, I prefer it as the students are more inclined to review the work of others. If for no other reason when they go go through the blog to find the one they posted they don't have a choice but to see the titles of the others.

  3. I'm a fan of centralization by force! I love creativity and ownership and to allow students to have room for community nurturing, but as time pressure pile, I do give in to time constraints and chose the convenience of centralization.
    As with everything--there will always be cons and pros.

  4. I have had to insist that students put the "BP#" and their first names as titles on each post in order to keep track and be able to find their posts, but they have realized the problems when looking for their own and when their commenting groups couldn't find theirs, so have gone back to change titles to be found more easily...

    I think students are reading each others' work much more in this centralized place.