The university where I teach uses Blackboard as their main course management/website platform. This year will be my first year using it but after taking a couple of workshops, it doesn’t look bad at all. In fact, it looks sleek and has lots of potential useful tools.

Browsing through some of the documentation, I came across an optional tool that might be useful. It’s called EduBlogger and once enabled, seems to all each student in the course to have a blog and the instructor to track it all. Blackboard also has a forum, of course, so it got me thinking about what would be the pros and cons of using a blog vs a forum to encourage either student participation outside of the classroom or allow the students to engage with the material in a media other than essays/exams.

I was thinking of using the discussion board feature of blackboard this term. I’d perhaps post some questions about the readings ahead of time and invite students to respond to them or post reactions of their own to the readings before the class. They could earn extra points for doing so, particularly if they engage in fruitful discussion with their classmates. The bonus would be to get them thinking before class and to allow shy students to get some extra marks.

In future, when I design the course myself (currently I’m just a TA), I’d create a class blog and make it more of an assignment. For this term, I might stick to the discussion board.

As an aside, I found this post on education blogs that was interesting and had many useful links. A lot of resources on using blogs on education seem to be related or geared towards primary and secondary school. Let me know if you find any discussions of it in a university context.