I recently manned (womanned? personed?) a table at our school’s little tech fair; my subject was this post’s title. I am using blogs exclusively in my classes now–I’ve dropped Moodle, wikis or other platforms. For me the choice was not between blogs and paper– but that’s the choice for many of my colleagues, hence my title.
For me the choice was mainly between blogs and some educational CMS like Moodle or Blackboard. I stopped using blackboard a few years ago for three reasons. First, because it’s so integrated with our registration system that students who were on the waitlist or waiting for financial aid to clear would not be able to access any course material. That was a disaster every term. Second, It’s proprietary software which is very expensive for our school, and I stay away from that whenever I can on principle. Third, It’s proprietary software and can’t be modified at all.
Fourth, (ok, four reasons) and maybe most importantly, apart from their time here in school, when will anyone need to know Blackboard again? This is the same reason I ultimately abandoned Moodle.
Even the students who plan to someday teach will by that time need to learn entirely new systems or versions. Blogs, on the other hand, are being used by wider and wider groups of people, to create personal websites, and often by businesses to create websites as well. I find this development interesting in itself, as an example of technological affordances being exploited. No longer just about online journaling, blogs are used to create all kinds of websites because they are so easy to update.
Wikis are cool in many ways, but the open source types all seem to have steep learning curves and after trying to use them for a few semesters and finding that even my grad students had a tough time, I decided it wasn’t worth the time it was taking from class.
So, I decided that if students were to get comfortable with any Web 2.0 platform, blogs would most useful, while having a shallow enough learning curve that they would not take up too much time in a one-semester course that is already interrupted by mandatory furlough days.
Tonight I’ll be giving an actual presentation about using blogs to campus faculty; we’ll see how many people show up!