Professor Forbes demonstrated that blogging was an important component of the course by making blog posts and comments a graded requirement.  

Students benefit from having specific guidelines for blogging and commenting, and these will vary according to course goals.  A clear rubric for evaluation helps students to understand not only the most important aspects of the assignment, but also how writing on the blog will will benefit their learning.  

Professor Forbes assigned a specific number of mandatory posts and comments, although his students enjoyed the blog so much that they often exceeded these requirements.  

Professor Forbes’s blog assignments encourage students to engage in all levels of thinking outlined in Bloom's Taxonomy.  Students not only Remember and Understand (by sharing interesting articles related to course content) but also Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create (by asking questions, developing hypotheses, and building on each other’s ideas.)

Image of students with laptops listening to instruction.Instructors recommend giving students specific guidelines for writing on a blog by explaining the key elements of a good post or comment.  In Professor Forbes’s classes, the students found preferred posts that demonstrated higher-order thinking skills and were inspired to raise expectations for their own work.  

Professor Forbes sometimes joins the conversation in the comments section, which serves to model scholarly discourse and to clear up confusion.  Moreover, this practice helps students to understand that the instructor cares about their learning.

Blogs are excellent tools for encouraging intellectual and logic-centered risk-taking and scholarly conversation among students.  Scholars find that learning objectives geared more toward emotional risk-taking and individual contemplation might be better assessed through private journals or other assignments read only by the student and/or the instructor.

Professor Forbes sets his blog to “private,” restricting access to enrolled students only so that his students feel freer to contemplate course concepts. He advises that instructors contemplate issues regarding privacy (including FERPA) and intellectual property before creating a public class blog.

Some students may require technology instruction.  Demonstrating the technology or providing good resources and support for students who need help can encourage student “buy in” and the successful completion of blog assignments.

All students can benefit from Universal Design principles, such as providing alternate text for and links to source data for images or graphs.  This helpful accessibility checklist includes suggestions for making blog posts and comments accessible to students with disabilities.

Professor Forbes found that blogging encouraged his students to come together as supportive colleagues to form a “community of inquiry.”  Some instructors ask students to sign a Blogger's Agreement outlining expectations about honesty and respect.

Instructors often use class blogs to add flexibility to lesson plans by highlighting important or exceptional blog postings during class time.  Students may be more motivated when they feel that the blog is a critical component of course learning objectives and activities.