Teaching with Blogs on Brightspace – Trending Topic (February 2020)
The Vanderbilt Center for Teaching released a comprehensive guide to Teaching with Blogs. Brightspace users on campus will be interested to know that a blog tool is included in every Brightspace course, and can be used to support student learning inside of the secure course management environment.
How can Students Blog on Brightspace?
A Blog is a collaborative tool that allows students to post their personal reflection about the course or discuss and analyze course related materials. Blogs are an effective means of sharing the knowledge and materials collected and created by the group with the rest of the course.
In Brightspace, the blogging-style feature is referred to as “Discussions.” Instructors can setup Discussion topics to be blogging areas for students.
A Discussion topic consist of two elements:
- Thread: Text, images, links and attachments posted by students and open for Comments.
- Replies: Comments or responses to discussion threads made by others.
The discussion tool provides these elements for students to interact.
Brightspace Offers Two Discussion Settings:
- Open Discussions allow all users in the course to share their thoughts and work in one common area where everyone can read and comment. All entries are posted to the same page to help promote collaboration among all course members. Instructors can decide if students can post openly or anonymously.
- Restricted Group Discussions allow groups of students to collaboratively post thoughts and comment on their group’s work. Instructors can also use the group restrictions to isolate students to single-user groups where they can post privately between them and the instructor or TAs.
In each of these cases, users create entries, which are added to their Discussion thread. The entries can be published and edited later. When entries are added to the Discussion thread, they are added automatically to an index organized by date.
For more information about how Brightspace Discussions work, view our guide about Understanding the Discussion tool.
Why Use the Brightspace Discussions Tool for Blogging?
Blogs foster and encourage personal reflection, offer the opportunity for deeper thinking on a subject, and simply allow the opportunity to further develop one’s writing skills. Blogs have the ability to open constructive dialog on the subject, and usually with an audience of readers who have strong and valid opinions, who may offer a variety of perspectives, and who may suggest other methods to solve a problem. Blogs also encourage the original writer to revisit their posts, digest the feedback, and reflect further. The isolation of journal writing invites more private thoughts, but omits so many other perspectives that might be valuable to the topic.
By asking students to review and comment on each other’s blogs, you not only keep ideas grounded but open the playing field for further examples and contextual relationships to build. Some instructors ask students to read/comment on two other student blogs, and provide examples of how to comment effectively. Also, asking students to avoid commenting on a post if it already has three or more comments will keep friends from always going to friends’ blogs.
In addition to student learning goals, Brightspace discussions tool can also make it easy to assess student performance on blogs. With direct grading that goes into a FERPA-compliant gradebook and a range of assessment tools such as rubrics and release conditions based on dates/times, Blackboard can make using a course blog as efficient for the instructor as it is enriching for the students.
Much more information can be found in the Vanderbilt CFT’s Teaching with Blogs guide.