Blogging in higher ed.

In last Sunday’s issue of The New York Times there was an “Education Life” insert full of articles on the modern college student.

As a blogger, I was super excited to check out “Term Paper Blogging,” an article written by Matt Richtel on the idea of the age-old term paper being replaced with a blog.

First off, the article mentions a professor at Duke University who asks her students to regularly publish 500-1500 word blog entries about class readings and current issues. According to the article, she is not alone.

Across the country, blog writing has become a basic requirement in everything from M.B.A. to literature courses. On its face, who could disagree with the transformation? Why not replace a staid writing exercise with a medium that gives the writer the immediacy of an audience, a feeling of relevancy, instant feedback from classmates or readers, and a practical connection to contemporary communications? Pointedly, why punish with a paper when a blog is, relatively, fun?

Thinking back to my college days as an English student, I almost can’t imagine just how glorious it would have been to maintain a blog for class instead of repeating a thesis statement for every page of a term paper!

The article also looks at the other side of the argument, that term papers are there for a reason—maybe the outcome isn’t a great one, but it’s more about the process of analyzing a reading and organizing the thoughts that go with it. There is also the notion that blogging is a more casual way of writing, therefore it won’t teach our students any structure.

But, it must be said that the new media types are what drive the passion in students. Isn’t that what it’s really about?

Her conclusion is that students feel much more impassioned by the new literacy. They love writing for an audience, engaging with it. They feel as if they’re actually producing something personally rewarding and valuable, whereas when they write a term paper, they feel as if they do so only to produce a grade.

I’ve been a writer for 10 years now, a blogger for 4. With three blogs under my belt, it’s easy to say that I love blogs and would recommend one to anyone that crosses my path. For me, blogs are a space to call my own, a place where I can write and publish whatever I please, whether it’s the thoughts in my head, a quick review of the movie I just watched, an analysis of the book I just read, or notes on a recipe I just cooked.

This blog in particular, is a place where I can share my ideas on my memoir; a place where I can get feedback from people I have no physical connection with; and in technological terms, a place to store it all.

What good does your blog serve you?


Posted on January 26, 2012, in The Squeeze and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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