Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blogging with Students in 5 Tips

Much has been said, written and commented about blogging for pedagogical purposes. However, never has it been enough. There's always more reading, more experimenting that can take blogging with students to another level. That's exactly what a group of new educator-bloggers has been discussing in an online session, Webtools4Educators. So, if I were to give any piece of advice, I'd stick to some ideas that have been part of my own blogging experience:

  1. Be personal. Write a post that inspires you first and then one that compels others to interact with you, your ideas, your thoughts. Here's one fantastic example of what I mean. Luiz Claudio is one of the participants of our educators' online session, and I challenged the group to blog for interaction. Here's his post that makes us get back in time, retrieve dormant memories and feel like sharing with others. So, when were your first bitten by the music bug?

  2. Challenge the mind and the senses of your audience by adding an element of surprise, unpredictability. Vary the way you post even if you've found your tone. If you blog with your guts, chances are you will stimulate others to interact with you, to express themselves. There's no formula, just a million different ways to awaken people's gregarious tendencies. One example? This post my student wrote about being a clown doctor. It was totally out of the common sense of what pre-intermediate adult students learning English would share about their lives.

  3. Promote intercultural exchanges. Blogging is about getting from the inside to the outside, pouring words out, letting yourself be carried away. Many times it has been said how blogging gives the chance for students to connect to a real audience. However, more than a real audience, I'd add the idea of a real mixed multicultural colorful audience. Find online partners that are willing to commit to your blogging projects with your students. It makes a whole difference to learn about the world having your perspective as the starting point and spinning the globe with other cultural-enriching views of the world. I just love this blogging interaction I had with a group of students in Russia and some of my former students joining the conversation. And, certainly, one of my most dear international exchanges was with a dear friend. Different groups of ours interacted on a blog for one year and a half. Not only did the students write, interact, reflect, had fun, but we, the educators-facilitators guiding the blogging experience were the ones who probably gained the most from those exchanges.

  4. Create passionate users. Ones that blog with passion - heart and soul.

  5. And closing the blogging cycle, be personal by becoming a great storyteller. That's what blogging is about - a story told, another retold, conversations blooming everywhere.

5+1 . If you let me close with this +1 bonus tip, read these two stimulating posts that inspire us to give blogging a try with our students:

And thanks Sue Waters for once again inspiring me to go beyond, to reflect and add a bit to this online community that helps me become a better person and professional every single day.

Thanks to the wonderful group of educators who have been inspiring me every single day since our online session started 5 weeks ago.


  1. Caral, darling you're just so COOL! I am really impressed with the endless options before my eyes!
    I'll definitely keep in mind these 5 tips.

  2. ahoj, Carla
    enjoyed your post - the links there stirred some really nice memories. :-)
    Like your 5 tips a lot and appreciate your not including the importance of frequent posting ;-).
    Hugs from the other side of the world, s

  3. Carla,
    It`s really kind of you to share these tips with us, newbloggers. Thanks once again.

  4. @Rick There are certainly endless possibilities and I´m sure you´ll find your blogging way, tone, style as you are a super cool teacher.

    @Sasa Thanks! Frequent posting could be one tip, but I guess in our case it is such a hard task that I opt for the blogging for passion, when you really have something to say, and not just as an obligation to keep the frequency.

    @Suely I´m sure in no time you´ll be sharing with us your own blogging tips!

  5. Hi Carla, thanks for sharing your six tips -- I love bonus tips. I'm with you. Passion and story telling are always better than frequent posting. While frequent posting can increase readership, it can be hard work.

  6. @Sue I agree with you that to increase readership, it means a lot of hard work. Certainly rewarding, but when I think of the workload of the teachers I work with, I think it is worth it they blog with their students as time allows rather than not blogging at all. It all depends on the purpose of your blog. We certainly need to have some kind of frequency to maintain readership, but my idea is that if you blog for passion, chances are you'll blog more and more frequently until you find the right balance.

  7. Nice tips, Carla.
    Thanks for being there for us!

  8. these tips are so great- I'll keep thyem in mind for people who are unsure about using this way of either exposing or connecting, depending on your view.

  9. I'm all for the third tip about cultural exchange. That is what I hope happens when I run the student blogging challenge with Sue Waters each year. Currently we have 13 countries represented with over 3000 possible student bloggers writing in class blogs or in their own individual blogs.

  10. Wow, Miss W. That's fantastic. I'd love to know more about the student blogging challenge as an international experience. Do you have specific topics? How does it work? How do the schools get engaged in this project? Is there a page with guidelines that you could share with us? That's really exciting, and I'm all for those cultural connections!

    @Willie. I'm glad you found the tips useful to share with the ones starting with blogging and also the reluctant ones.

    @André. I am the one to thank you for being so enthusiastically around!

  11. Great tips! Thank you.

    Because we have been thinking about facilitating in the Facilitation Online course, how do you see it working in the blogging context?

  12. Dear Sarah,

    I think blogging is a perfect tool for online facilitation as it enhances conversations and reflections. I've been using it with my online groups and students express themselves as they wouldn't do in a f2f educational setting.


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