Here at Bucknell, an area in need of improvement is academic exploration and discussion amongst students outside of the classroom. Various initiatives, such as the residential colleges, exist in an attempt to further this mission. Blogging, however, is one of the only learning tools available, which can effortlessly integrate the world of academia with the lifestyle of the typical college student.
Many in the education field are beginning to recognize the value of blogs given the extreme freedom they give students to post at any time in any place with an Internet connection (which is virtually everywhere these days). This concept of a blog is also a very viable participation option for students who may not want to express their views in class; those shy individuals are more likely to share with peers by crafting a blog post encompassing personal viewpoints and arguments. As for professors assessing their students, much more creativity and freethinking can be incorporated into blogging than into a traditional assessment method, such as a timed in-class writing.
With so many benefits, blogging of course does have a few downsides. For instance,Professor Deb Marciano at Washington College in Maryland was forced to deactivate the collaborative feature of a blog for one of her courses because it became overrun with spam. Additionally, students must be cognizant of the content of their posts because there could be legal implications if anything defamatory or libelous was posted. Another point to be aware of when it comes to blogging is that nothing can replace in-person social interactions. So while blogging may be an excellent tool to hone writing skills and facilitate academic discussions, it should never completely replace in-person communication and discussion. For this reason, many “old school” educators are hesitant to delve into the blogging world, but it should be noted that blogging certainly encourages critical thinking. Blogging is all about easily referencing diverse sources by embedding links in the post itself and directing fellow bloggers to relevant sources that relate to the topic at hand. This allows for a much more expansive, sophisticated writing approach by examining countless online sources and then synthesizing an argument building off of multiple scholars’ views, a current event, a youtube video, or all of the above. Technology is clearly the path for the future so it makes sense for educators to embrace it so that students can master the skills necessary to succeed in such a technologically advanced, fast-paced environment while they are still developing intellectually.