Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Thoughts about student blogs and instructor comments...

I just posted this to my course blog, but thought I would also share here...it is written for the participants in my course - so I am addressing them in the narrative.

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One of the course participants asked me if I was going to make comments on all of the blog posts for the course – and this is actually a question I really grapple with every semester, here are my thoughts….
A large part of my reason for the blogs is to encourage you to think reflective about what you are doing (in the class, in your jobs, in your life…) and share that with others.  It is hard to truly turn information into knowledge without creating relationships between new information and existing ideas, or relating that information to a current need.  The blogs are a good tool to support these kind of connections.
In a way the blogs are really for you, a place for you to find/stretch your voice, start to create your professional persona, to realize you have something to say (and you do!).  Yes, I know I am making you do them, so it may not feel like it is for you – but it is a great way to experiment. So my dilemma about leaving comments, is that it implies that my response is needed for your blogs – that the are about grading, or fulfilling a requirement that I can stand in judgement over them.  This is another reason why the points for the blogs are in your hands, I am not going to grade discussions or reflections – because they are about you and about interaction…the activity is more important in some ways than the content.
There is actually a name for what I am encouraging you to do – “learning out loud” and hopefully subsequently “working out loud.”  There is a great blog post on LOL from Nigel Young – http://nigelkineo.blogspot.com/2015/03/learning-out-loud.html – and one on WOL - http://nigelkineo.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/when-working-out-loud-isnt-really-wol.html. And please read this from Shana Chattopadhyay on WOL http://idreflections.blogspot.com/2015/05/7-strategies-to-facilitate-working-out.html.  Here are some great blogs on failures – it is so much easier to learn from something that didn’t go right than from something that did…
The point of showing these is that you can't be wrong, or being wrong does not mean that the blog is not right...
I totally get that you may not love the idea of doing anything out loud, but in all honesty, you MUST.  We all need to move quickly in our jobs and learning, and we can do that when we build on the work of others.  This is still not something I do instinctively – but I am making it part of what I do with my work – you can check out the blog for my current library position at ouopentextbooks.org – Cody and I blog here, and he is much better at it than I am.   We are just sharing what we do, the things that work, the approaches that don’t, but we learn every day from other blogs like this, and so we think it is important to share.  It is not refined and beautiful prose with citations, not a 5 point essay – just our thoughts, just documenting what we do.  That is why we the reflections and discussions are blogs, they are informal, and inherently personal.  They are not formal research papers.  They may not even be formal thoughts.  But I want you to write – reflect, learn from each other…
Which brings us back to the question – should the instructor respond to every blog – I don’t want you to think that my opinion/response is any more valid than what you wrote, or that it brings validation to what you created – you are already doing this, you have a voice and it is valid.  I do know it can be lonely to just be blogging and not know if anyone is listening – but again, this blog is about you, so maybe that is OK.  I would really like for you to read each others blogs, comment and share your thoughts – this seems much more rich and interesting than my comments alone.
OK – HERE IS THE IMPORTANT PART….what do you think?  How do you feel about blogging for this course so far, do you want my comments in your blogs, can you take some time each week to comment on your teammates blogs?  I REALLY AND TRULY want to hear what you have to say about this!!!  Please post in the comments, or if you blog about this, send a link to your blog….. (yes, I know it is a bit “funny” to ask you to comment on a blog about me not commenting, but roll with it).

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