Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Integrate Blogging Into Your Courses & Blackboard

An online blogging tool available to all students and employees at Shenandoah University (SU) is BLOGGER. This tool is available through their Google Education Apps account. While this post will primarily focus on potential uses within the academic setting and how to successfully integrate Blogger into a Blackboard (Bb) course. This tool can also be used with a Bb organization or as personal/professional outlet.

Faculty don't have to use blogger in their Bb courses, but it does make it easier for students to find it. Why? Since Bb is the learning management system that the university uses that is where students naturally expect to see their course content. Faculty can link to their blog site or embed the site directly within Bb via the content editor. Embedding is my favorite, because it doesn't require the student to make additional clicks to see the information. Faculty can set up ‘blogger’ based blogs as a simple way of engaging pre-University students with e-learning. Students who are required to blog in class, receive feedback not only from their peers & faculty member but people all over the world. Blogging also helps a student remember their is more to communication than just text lingo and while building a digital learning portfolio. Blogging also help prevent plagiarism or at least the faculty will have the world helping catch those who plagiarize.  The other big advantage is that blogger content would be available to students if the institution's Bb site is unavailable. There are some down sides to using blogger in the classroom. The content will be inaccessible if Google has technical problems, if students don't know that it is accessible or how to access it outside of Bb, and faculty who want to grade blog activity on blogger would have to manually create a grade column in the grade center.

Not sure your students are ready for world wide feedback, no worries. You can still blog in your class by using Bb's blog tool instead of blogger. With Bb Blogs, only users in the course have access to Blackboard Blogs. Users removed from the Course will not have access to any Blogs. If users are removed from the Course after Individual Blogs have been created, all their posts and comments will be deleted. If users are removed from a Course after Course Blogs have been created, all their posts and comments will be retained, but the name of the poster or commenter will be changed to "Anonymous." Bb offers the instructor different types of blogs like individual, group, & course blogs. Bb blogs can be setup and tied directly to the course grade center automatically.  The Bb blog tool is also available within Bb organizations.

If you’re interested in learning more about Blogger or if you’re discovering it for the first time, click here to look at the slideshow created by the University of Kentucky. An example of how two faculty members used blogger in their class click here and here.

Students, you can link & embed blogs into Blackboard any place you see the textbox editor. So try it out in your next discussion board, wiki, or journal activity.

If you want to learn more about Bb blogs you can find text and video tutorials on the SU Bb Support Site at www.su.edu/bb.

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