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Academic Uses of Blogs

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Blogging exercises have been used successfully across disciplines, from the humanities to social sciences to medicine. There are two main ways for instructors to assign blogging as a write-to-learn exercise in higher education:

  • Class blog: Students take turns to author short, personal reflective essays on a topic or theme related to the course. Instructors can also use blogs as a way to collect creative assignments that use online tools, such as a podcast or a collaborative timeline project.
  • Student personal blogs: Students write personal reflective essays in a journal-like manner; instructors then curate blog posts to put on a class blog. When used consistently over a student’s career, a blog can take the form of an e-portfolio.

Specific examples:

  • Students in a language course can blog to practice their vocabulary and language skills; they can also establish a digital pen-pal relationship with students from other course sections or at other universities.
  • Students in a media studies course on American television can analyze current television programs in light of their course readings.
  • Economics students can discuss current news in the context of the economic theories they learned in class.
  • The instructor of a Latin American and Caribbean Studies course used a class blog to display the outcome of his students’ collaborative timeline project. Students and the instructor contributed meaningful events, periods, and dates from course readings and outside sources to create an overarching timeline of the history of sciences and technologies in Latin America.
  • Students in an ethnomusicology course put their podcasts (course capstone project), which analyze the sonic history of objects of historical importance, on their class blog. The blog format allowed them to present images and other information that enriched their podcasts.

Support Your Academic Writing on Blogs

The Voices platform includes plugins that can help support different types of academic writing. For example, with the Footnotes plugin, you can add footnotes to posts and pages inline, while with the LaTeX Math Symbols plugin, you can use LaTex code in posts and comments to format mathematical formulas and equations. Blog administrators can find the entire list of available plugins under Dashboard > Plugins.

More Information

If you would like to know more about how to use blogs effectively in your course, the following articles may be of help:

If you have questions about the service or would like to discuss whether a class blog is suitable for your course, email academictech@uchicago.edu to set up a consultation.

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