Monday, February 11, 2008

Student Voice + Google 20%

Konrad Glogowski presented at EduCon2.0 about using blogs with students. At the beginning of his presentation I was thinking, "well, I already use blogs with my students so not sure if this is going to be useful." I kept my ears open and pretty soon heard something that I've thought about everyday since. One of his main themes was losing your teacher voice and giving the students one. He described how important it was to let students establish the confidence to write online knowing that it could be read by other students. The way he made this happen was by allowing students to write about nonacademic topics for a little while. He would then have a conversation with them through comments. He threw away that teacher tone for the rest of the year. No more looking at writing through the eyes of someone grading it on grammar and punctuation. Talk to your kids about what they are writing, listen to their voice.

Google allows its employees to spend 20% of their time (one day/wk) working on a project outside their job requirements. I've thought a lot about how to apply this to my courses and it wasn't until this week that a light bulb went on and I settled on something. Why not combine Konrad's idea of student voice with Google 20%? Here is what I came up with.

I will encourage students to earn 20% of their points for the week just writing in their blog. For example (a rough estimate), if they have a 100 point project due that week, 20 points will come from their blog and can be applied as extra credit or as a substitute for some of the project requirements. (logistics will fall into place a little later). There will have to be a couple caveats though:
1. Early on in the process they can write about anything on their mind.
2. The students must only write things they are willing to share with other students.
3. As the semester progresses, the blogs will start to incorporate more and more ideas from our content.

Any suggestions? Arguments?


Anonymous said...

That's kind of what we had to do in Dave's class. Worked great. I noticed you were following him on Twitter so I guess you know who I'm talking about :)

mrplough said...

@inko9nito - Glad to hear someone has tested it out, how did it go?

Anonymous said...

Oh it was great. He would either ask us to blog about a certain topic or something relating to what we discussed in class. For example, when we were reading about copyright our assignment was to write a blog about something in the news that related to our readings. It could be anything, as long as it related to the topic. Here's the blog where he posted the assignments. If you are interested, go through the archives starting with August.

This is one of the students' blogs. If you look in the Blogroll you'll see links to the blogs of all the other students that took that class. We had to put course-related entries in the Assignments category. So, if you're interested, you can see how well we did. I think we did pretty good :)

Also, I don't know if you came across any articles about using Twitter in academia but if you did, chances are it was by Dave. One of our assignments was to use Twitter for a week and do 10 tweets in a weekend or something like that.