Blogs entering into academic world

My blog ate my homework.

This semester, some instructors are requiring their students to be a little more creative with their homework assignments. Instructors like Chad Rohrbacher now use blogs in their lesson plans.

Blogs, otherwise known as weblogs or live journals, are Web sites where anyone can post their own thoughts. Many students use Xanga, MySpace, Blogtastic and other Web sites to post their blogs, and let the world know about their opinions, friends, favorite music and even what they had for lunch.

Jessica Honigford, sophomore, has been writing a blog for over a year.

“I usually just use it to record the day’s events,” she said.

This semester, Rohrbacher is asking students to take blogs a step farther and have each of the students in his Great Ideas class create a blog for course work.

The students in his classes will use their blogs to post responses to class readings and continue classroom discussion when class has ended. Then, not only can Rohrbacher access their assignments, but other students in the class can share ideas through their blog site.

“I think there is a lot of opportunity in cyber space,” he said.

With the ability to post assignments on the World Wide Web, Rohrbacher thinks, students will become more aware of the big picture.

“What we are doing in the classroom is part of a much larger scale, we are not confined to the University’s bubble,” he said.

And Rohrbacher is not the only one bursting out of the bubble. This is the first semester that Anthony Fontana is using blogs in his art classes. Around 40 students taking his two-dimensional foundations class this semester will be responsible for a weekly blog entry to reflects on what they have learned in the classroom. In each entry the students will post an image of their choosing and a 200 word essay on how their image represents what they have studied in class.

“In their own time, in their own free way, [students] can apply what we have learned in class to what they are passionate about,” he said.

Fontana hasn’t always used the internet to help students relate to art though.

“It kind of replaces what I used to use a sketchbook for,” he said.

According to Fontana, the best part about blogs are their simplicity. When students post their assignments and essays online it allows them to do so wherever and whenever they want. It is also easy for Fontana. He is albe to keep the whole class’s work in one folder and access them all at once. He can check the progress of each student all throughout the week from the blog site.

“It is so easy to do that there is no reason that we shouldn’t take advantage of it,” Fontana said.

But not everyone feels the same as Fontana. Geology professor, Don Steinker doesn’t use computers at all.

“I don’t have any use for a computer,” he said.

Steinker teaches his classes without any Power Point presentations Web sites, or e-mails at all.

Rohrbacher and Fontana, on the other hand, both keep blogs of their own. Fonatana thinks that by getting aquatinted with blogs in class and seeing how simple it is, students may also start their own blogs outside of class.

As for the future of classroom blogging, Rohrbacher and Fontana will continue to experiment with the technology, and watch it grow.

“I would like to see Black Board include a blog option,” he said. “That’s where I see the technology going in the future.”