I have often had students contribute to a class blog as a writing assignment. There are two things that I’m wrestling with. (Well, at least two things…)
Students are really nervous about using an unfamiliar technology at first, and then they figure out only so much as they have to. They don’t take advantage of the platform because they don’t want to invest the time to work out even little things, and I don’t want to require using the tools in a particular way because learning the tools isn’t an outcome I am particularly focused on. Should I focus on it more? Should learning to incorporate links and visual materials be a goal for these writing assignments? I’m worried that they will get hung up on the technicalities, and I want them to see the forest, not be blinded by trees.
Second, I ask students to post weekly. They always complain that they can’t think of ideas to write about. I tell them this is all about paying attention to the world around them and about invention, and they get that – but they still sit down to knock out the task at the last minute with a completely blank slate; few seem to really acquire the habit of paying attention and squirreling away those things that they might want to explore more thoroughly in writing. I think they are just busy, and they want to focus on getting each task out of the way rather than finding connections or letting things simmer on the back burner.
What I guess I am wondering is how do we get busy students who are conditioned to focus on grades that depend on products and tests to relax and play with technology – and with ideas? How can we reward them for playing?
*Yes, I’m riffing off Stanley Fish.