Instructional Blogs

Blogs are an engaging way to share information and ideas with students. Blog posts can utilize hyperlinks, videos, images, and hashtags to highlight connections between your content and the real world (UDL Checkpoint 3.2). Because of this opportunity for variety blogs are a great way to implement Universal Design for Learning (UDL Guideline 1 & Checkpoint 2.5).

Blogs take students beyond the learning management system (LMS) which can lead to broader engagement. They can create a space for conversations across different course sections and semesters. You can also use blogs as an optional supplementary resource for students who want to dive deeper into the content and extend the conversation.

General Blog Resources

Evidence-Based Practices

Make your blog authentic.

Make your blog authentic.

Teacher Presence

A blog is an excellent way to share your personality and your passion for your discipline with your students. You can expand the blog to show connections between your life outside the classroom and your life as a teacher. Your blog can be more professional  Рrelated only to your discipline and research, or more relaxed and personal, including topics like hobbies and vacations. Students can get to know you as a whole person.

Another benefit is that students can comment on your posts, extending the conversation beyond the limits of classroom time. They can even keep in touch post-graduation.

Diverse Perspectives

Your blog is an excellent opportunity to expand student perspectives by introducing them to voices from the margins. Consider who you might include in an interview, what other experiences might be relevant to your topic. What perspectives might you want to engage with through commentary or analysis? You can share examples from cultures and viewpoints that may be different from your own, and encourage students to share their own in the comments. This is also a way to model civil dialog and demonstrate how much we have to learn from each other.

Make your blog engaging.

Make your blog engaging.

Organized

Sort topics in a meaningful way so that students can find relevant places to engage with your content. Keep the blog clean so that your audience can find what they are looking for in short order. That gives them more time to reflect on what you are sharing and respond in a way that extends the conversation.

Hashtags are an excellent way for you to organize blog content. Hashtags are key words or phrases that you can use to “tag” (label) your posts, which makes it easier for your students or external audiences to find and engage with your content.

Chunked

Keep posts manageable in length so that students can read and respond in a relatively short time. It’s ideal to have only one or two main points – you can always tease further discussion for the next post – kind of like a podcast. The serial format keeps readers engaged and looking forward to your next installment.

Provide options for student participation.

Provide options for student participation.

Blog posts can often serve as springboards for asynchronous conversation using the comments section. When crafting your blog posts, consider how you might promote or foster that conversation — you could bring up questions, prompt readers to reflect on personal connections, challenge folks to debate the issue, etc. When students use what they learn in the post to engage with others, they increase their own learning and help others at the same time.

While these conversations can be an excellent strategy for engagement and critical thinking, they can also become negative spaces with trolling or misinformation. It’s important to establish the rules and expectations of that conversation space just as you would with online discussions in the LMS. Check the space frequently (or set up notifications) so that you can intervene if necessary.

Model ethical behavior.

Model ethical behavior.

Most likely many of your students have already created (or someday will create) content for the web. Your blog gives you the opportunity to model digital citizenship and inclusiveness in a way that is aligned with our mission statement:

Our mission is to educate men and women toward maturity of intellect, character and Christian faith in preparation for lives of service, leadership and reconciliation in church and society.

Digital Citizenship

Key digital citizenship considerations related to blogging include privacy, copyright, and information validation. As discussed above under “Teacher Presence,” blogs are a great way to incorporate more of your own personality, experiences, and opinions, but it’s important to model for your readers where those lines are drawn in terms of personal privacy. Avoid sharing information that could compromise your personal safety or the safety of another. More details on privacy issues in web content are available on Create a Blog or ePortfolio from the ITS Blog.

Copyright considerations for blogging are two-fold: respecting the copyright of others and protecting your own content. Blogs often leverage images and videos, and whenever you use ones that you didn’t create personally, model for students the proper crediting procedures. Messiah’s Library has created an excellent resource for understanding copyright that we recommend you check out for details on how to ethically use that content. Since you’re also creating your own content in your blog and publishing it to the world (or at least your students), it’s important to choose a Creative Commons license that reflects how you want your own work to be treated by others.

Lastly, web content has become notorious for misinformation (and even disinformation). Within the content of your blog posts, you can show students how to leverage reliable information —¬†establish the credibility of your sources and use citations, when applicable. This practice also extends into the comments section of blogs, so use that space to ask folks about the sources of their information and push back on misinformation. This will help students see the value of information validation in the online environment.

Diversity and Inclusion

When creating your blog content, consider students who may have different cultural backgrounds than you. Be careful not to make assumptions about what your students already know. A benefit to blogging is that you can clarify and/or provide background knowledge within the text of your content OR by using hyperlinks to other web content. Consider this any time that you use or reference . . .

  • Regional customs
  • Unique vocabulary
  • Figurative language
    • Idioms
    • Symbols
    • Metaphors
  • Pop culture events or people

On a more technical note, it’s important to make your blog digitally accessible to diverse learners, so we recommend checking out our Digital Accessibility section of the Inclusion page.

Learn More!