Teachers: Here’s a great idea for your class!

I would never presume to call myself a teacher. After all, I only teach one night class every other year. But I will tell you this past fall, my class did something that I’d like to suggest to all of you teachers out there. We started a class blog. Ours is called, “The Cobber Connection” and it features the posts of Broadcast News Writing Students at Concordia College here in Moorhead. Over at Minnesota State University-Moorhead a digital media class is doing a blog called, “Doing it Downtown” where they write about the happenings in downtown Fargo-Moorhead.

I started the blog after a few of my students told me they were interested in careers in digital media. It was the first time, teaching this class that I had as many students interested in pursuing digital media rather than more traditional forms. So I figured, given my new job and the ease of areavoices,  a class blog would be a perfect fit.

And it has been. I told the students they were required to make just 3 posts all semester. (What’s funny, is that the overwhelming majority of their posts came yesterday, the last day of class. Procrastination is alive and well). Anyway, I gave them carte blanche regarding what they could write about. That was the fun part. They gravitated toward their interests. One of my students wants to go into sports broadcasting. He did posts about Cobber sports and why the BCS system is a sham. Others tackled tougher topics including sexual assaults on college campuses. Others chose to write about themselves and their families. One student shared why she’s obsessed with teacup pigs. Another, argued that chivalry is dead because of women. Interesting reading.

The fact is, college and high school teachers are sending students into a very different world than the one we entered years back. I was not prepared to learn about digital and online journalism. There was no such thing. These students will need this skill set even if they choose to pursue careers in traditional media. Broadcast and print reporters need to understand blogging and writing for the web as much as they need to understand the who, what, where, when and why of journalism.

If you’re worried about what your students might write, there is a solution. I set myself up as administrator. So while they did all the writing, I had to look through each post before it ever appeared on the blog. You can build in safeguards so content you don’t wish to share won’t get shared.

Obviously, class blogs are great tools for journalism and media classes in college and high school. But I would say that other classes might benefit as well. It gives the student a chance to share their ideas and thoughts, and see it published online.

If you’re interested in learning more about setting up a class blog, please contact me. I’d love to tell you more about it.

Now I must go back and read more about those teacup pigs.

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