Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Class blog is (finally) a success

I created a members-only blog for my Campaigns class this semester, and after nearly four months it's finally working.

At the beginning of the semester, I posted items relating to whatever we were doing in class (such as, "here's a link to a good summary of how to do a focus group"). I also solicited input from professionals on similar topics ("here's how we're using a survey to help with employee relations") and on the job search process since the students are all graduating seniors. Each student was required to initiate a post or comment on a post with something substantive to add (a link, a related book title, something learned in another class) at least 5 times during the semester.

At first, with a few notable exceptions, they were incredibly reluctant to post. I limited the membership so they wouldn't have to worry about strangers reading it (one of my guest bloggers told them that his agency Googles and checks Facebook for all prospective employees, so now they're all blocking their sites), but some were uncomfortable with the software, some felt weird writing for the rest of the class to read, and others just plain procrastinated.

I despaired. I begged. I gave up.

Then the last month or so of their school careers rolled around, and they started to use the blog to bond over graduation, job search, and life transition issues. They posted with suggestions for moving, worries about finding jobs, and just general angst about leaving school. I never would have thought to post anything on these issues--but they made the blog their own. And two of the teams created blogs for their client, so they must be seeing some value to it. Not every teaching experiment works, but this one's worth repeating.

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"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given" --Bertrand Russell

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