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Blogging to Develop Writing Skills and Increase Student-Content & Student-Student Interaction

Julie Summers (Simpson College, , US)
Session Information
April 24, 2012 - 9:10am
Teaching and Learning
Areas of Special Interest: 
Blended Course
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Lakeshore C
Session Duration: 
50 Minutes
Virtual Session

Students are enthralled with social media and web-based tools. Learn how emerging technology provides unique educational opportunities.

Extended Abstract

In an upper-level integrated marketing communication course with a course objective of increasing writing skills, blogging was used to teach students more about content creation and the importance of editing. During the semester, students demonstrated their ability to develop communication tools, such as advertisements, brochures, direct mail, and public service announcements, to reach a specific target audience. Each tool needed to communicate the organization's overall benefit. The benefit parallels a thesis in academic writing. In summary, this class borrows from students' past experience with communication tools and past experience with structuring an argument and asks them to use that knowledge to develop marketing tools. In trying to create a constructivist experience that gave students the opportunity to create, edit, and provide feedback on a tool, the decision was made to incorporate blogging. Face-to-face class sessions were spent discussing strategies to for building arguments that could be supported with credible evidence. Initially, online discussion forums on the course site were used to share examples of blogs. Then, students created the course blog site, and were assigned weeks to initiate blog posts and were asked to comment weekly on other students' posts. As students prepared their blog posts, the online environment provided student-content engagement. Students could individualize their learning by focusing on content and graphics they found interesting. The only content-requirement was that the post needed to convey information important to someone wanting to learn more about IMC. Meanwhile, posting comments about other students' posts provided student-student interaction. Learning was assessed at an individual level, as the instructor evaluated each post for its written qualities. The feedback could be used for each subsequent post. At the midpoint of the semester, students discussed the blog in class. Two general themes emerged including the length/writing style of posts and the impact graphics have on the readability of the blog. Students generally discussed the ease of reading more concise posts. One student commented that her friends thought our blog was sometimes boring because it was text heavy. As a class we discussed the merits of incorporating graphics in each post. Thus, the comprehensive blog can be assessed as a unit to evaluate the learning that transpired. Students are familiar with online tools and social media. Incorporating blogging gives students a forum to practice their writing skills. Blogging enhances student learning by increasing interaction with content. Finally, engagement and collaboration increases when students contribute to a class blog.

Lead Presenter

Julie Summers is an Assistant Professor at Simpson College in Iowa.  She teaches marketing communication courses in primarily a face-to-face environment.