As I sit at my counter on a lazy Saturday morning with Jazz playing in the background I am struck at how nice it is to see the thoughts of my students streaming before my eyes. Now that I am finally home after what feels like weeks on the road, I am taking a little time to get caught up on my RSS feeds. The big difference is that I’m not reading my typical array of Apple news or Enterprise 2.0 stuff … I’m going through entries my students have made in their own blog spaces over the last few weeks. What I see are a lot of really insightful thoughts as they relate not only to the assigned readings, but to all sorts of things they are thinking about. What I am struck by is that none of my students in the past have taken the time to post thoughts unrelated to a course in an CMS/LMS such as ANGEL or BlackBoard. I wonder why that is …
This isn’t really news to me as I’ve used blogs in courses I’ve taught before, but the combination of our own PSU Blogging platform, an interesting course topic, and a more mature group of students is creating some interesting results already. I recall a few years ago in a small study I conducted with my colleague, Bart Pursel, we asked students if they were more motivated to post in the blog environment compared with ANGEL and they overwhelmingly reported that they were. I am very interested in seeing how these students continue down this path.
What does this give me? I am already learning so much more about the way they think, write, and discuss. The fact that there are more artifacts for me to begin to build my impressions of them is amazing to me. One of the themes of the course we are teaching is identity … with that in mind I find it interesting that I am already able to create a stronger sense of who these students are by not only interacting with them in class, but by reading their blog posts. Makes for a stronger sense of community (which is another one of our primary themes).
So, as I sit here and read the thoughts of my students I know there is something important about giving students their own place to think out loud. I am also struck by the fact that I would rather read their thoughts than those typically clogging my google reader on a lazy Saturday morning. I’ve shared out a Meta-Blog of my students if you are interested in exploring with me … you can always check out what is happening in the class by visiting the Pligg site. We’ll also be posting our first class podcast as soon as I can get it edited. Until then I have some reading to do.