Been thinking about how to use weblogs with my Media classes next quarter (which starts in two weeks) and need to get some ideas down:
1. I still plan use a weblog as a class homepage with daily updates and links.
2. Wondering if perhaps I could create collaborative weblogs for smaller groups, perhaps divide them by area of interest (television, movies, ads, Internet, magazines, news, music, law, etc), and perhaps connect kids from both sections (that would be a cool idea). Have them find and discuss topics relevant to their interest, maybe even create some sort of competition among them. Could develop criteria for the types of posts…could even require them to contact some media types to collaborate with them (look how easy it was to get mentors in the web class), use the Writing About the Arts model from Middlebury (she has small group discussions going on with “experts”)…maybe try to find some of these experts beforehand? Say if I had 8 kids per weblog? Six weblogs total? Six topics? Or could I have duplicates (might get some stepping on each other’s toes that way)? First task would be to search the web for relevant and useful links about their topics and post. Could teach one kid in each group to make them permanent with the code. Then find articles, exchange ideas, reactions, news, etc. Should come up with a list of focus questions. Assess how?
3. Not sure about individual weblogs…maybe diaryland accounts for posting work?
Even more pressing (and possibly more important) is I need to figure out what information I want back from my current kids about their weblog experience. Specifically, I want to know how many of them ended up just doing it for a grade, how many genuinely liked it, would they have liked more participation from me, what kinds of applications can they see for weblogs if any, etc. I always wonder about the reliability of such requests since I know some kids are just negative in general about school and technology. Still, I think there were at least a third of my students who got something out of this. Is that enough? And how do I make it more interesting/valuable to them? That’s the biggest question. As with anything else in teaching, I think the answer lies in my own preparation. I think my media blogs COULD be more effective with the addition of professionals, but that kind of a project is going to depend on how much effort I put into constructing it, from the idea, to getting the participants together, to focusing questions for discussion, to evaluating the results. Would be cool though. Time to start looking around.