Friday, February 18, 2011

Thoughts on Blogging

First let me apologize for the late post.  I was under the impression that the only assignment we had was the post on Thinkfinity.  A few words of wisdom, "pay attention to the deadlines tab".  

This is my first time blogging but I think it's a very interesting tool. It really gives you to opportunity to express yourself within an open forum in a very simple way. Students today are on Facebook and Twitter more than ever, attempting to have their ideas reach a larger network and this is another tool to accomplish just that. It makes this tool appealing and provides an avenue for articulating ideas to peers.

My difficulty with blogging comes from the type of interactions plan to have with students. While blogging seems great and user friendly for expressing ideas, I didn't see how this can be expanded to all out of class environments for students in college (my research area). The article by Nardi et. al (2004) helped me think of some ideas. Authors describe 5 main motivations for blogging (1) documenting one's life; (2) providing commentary and opinions; (3) expressing deeply felt emotions; (4) articulating ideas through writing; and (5) forming and maintaining community forums." (pg. 43) One of the learning environments that struck me when reading this was apprenticeship roles (ie. Internships and cooperative learning positions). One of the difficulties experienced by the departments in the School of Engineering is tracking the relevance of these positions and understanding what the students are learning. How great would it be to require students to keep a weekly blog on their learning experiences and the relationships between industry and their engineering discipline?

I also thought about the use of blogs to encourage students who are in retention/intervention programs to keep weekly blogs that help guide their required sessions with academic counselors. By consistently articulating their experiences, difficulties, and successes I believe support services can do a better job of providing the help that students require. Does this sound a little farfetched? Can we place that much responsibility on a counselor to manage? I can't answer that questions, but I have a strong feeling that by asking students to track their experiences they can begin to self access their needs as well.

Last point, I promise. The incorporation of formulas and equation tool options would also help make blogs more applicable to the STEM fields. If this is an outlet for articulating ideas, maybe the same can be done in the STEM fields by encourage innovation on some type of blog application.


  1. Hi Mike,

    I agree that not every technology can be expanded to your uses. I actually quite agree that support services could be using technology quite effectively to "check in" with engineering students. Regarding your question of "will this add too much of a burden on support counselors," I think there are a lot of engineers who drop out but never talk about it with Rutgers counselors before they make their decision. So if a system gets set up where everyone communicates their feelings to Rutgers staff on a regular basis, there will be a lot more retention work to do. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though.

    Sometimes the best technology is no technology. As a math major, I'd say that the most important support tool for me was studying with classmates. Meeting a few times a week with a regular study group made school a lot easier, and I honestly believe that I learned better with a weekly study group.

    Regarding internship blogs, I actually think a Sakai site could be better. Having students use Sakai's discussion boards or fill out open-ended quiz forms on a regular basis might provide students with the trust that their responses are private.

    However, there might be some good ways to use access control on a blog. My concern with blogs is that discussing details of their internships might "out" students' identities by process of elimination if companies are looking.

    Regarding equations on blogs, there are other blog sites that allow this. Wordpress blogs can format equations using the LaTeX typesetting code. See here: If you are familiar with it, this will be very useful. If not, LaTeX might seem complicated at first, but there are plenty of tutorials online. This is a good introductory guide:


  2. Hi Mike,

    Great first entry! I think you made some really nice points about how blogs can realistically be utilized in math and engineering type classes.

    I have to say, however, that I agree with Tom when he states, “Sometimes the best technology is no technology.” I teach middle school math, and I know for a fact that many of my students learn best when they can combine hearing what I am saying, watching what I am doing, and copying down the information. There is a certain face-to-face interaction that is really important in teaching a subject like math, especially because it is so difficult and frustrating for so many students. Also, it is necessary to be present when many students are learning math because as an educator you can identify their mistakes, and talk them through multiple ways of correcting their errors.

    That being said, I feel that there is clearly a necessity for having a hybrid-modeled class if you’re interested in utilizing a lot of technology in math or engineering. I think blogs and wikis can be EXCELLENT tools at home, as a supplement, for things like posting assignments and allowing students to chat about homework. Again, however, they can’t be used for everything.


  3. Hi Mike,

    You bring up many excellent points about blogs and possible uses (or limitations). Even if you don't find them useful for your instructional purposes, it may be useful for you to start or join a professional blog that may inform you as an educator. Just reading some of the posts here shows how useful it can be to get ideas and resources from other educators in the field.