January 2009 Archives

Uses for Blogs Within a Course


A BLOG (WEB LOG) is a type of website where you can instantly post your writing. Using web based blogging software, anyone can easily publish their ideas on the Web from any computer with an Internet connection.

The best known use of blogs is for personal online journals. However, the educational community is now finding many uses for blogs. Blogs can be used in at least two different ways: as a group journal where all members can post; or each individual in a group can have their own blog with each linked from a single web page.

* Instructor uses the blog as an online course management tool where s/he posts assignments, announcements, information and summaries of lessons.
* A weekly topic is posted and each student posts their thoughts on the topic.
* Post articles relevant to the course.
* Students post their thoughts regarding articles.
* Class discussions on course readings and lectures.
* Students post their writing assignments and homework exercises.
* Students exchange information related to the course's subject.
* Students post comments, questions and advice about the course to Instructor and fellow students.
* Students post their thoughts on what they are learning.
* Students use the blog as a writing portfolio.
* Students read each other's rough drafts of writing assignments and give feedback.
* Students and Instructor discuss news related to the course's subject.
* Students discuss class activities.
* Online students can get to know each other by reading and commenting on each others blog entries.

Advantages to using UThink vs. Blogger

The University of Minnesota has some centrally supported chat or chat-like tools that could be used to facilitate virtual office hours. There are two basic forms of these chat tools. One version enables synchronous text-chat sessions where instructors and students can connect electronically and type text back and forth. These tools often incorporate automatic recording of the chat sessions. Examples of synchronous text chat tools at the University of Minnesota are UM Chat (Jabber) or WebVista chat. Another type of tool is one like the Wimba "Voice Direct" tool. Wimba Voice Direct allows students and instructors to converse using natural voice. Both the text-based chat and the voice-chat may offer "hand raise" options that allow instructors to manage the flow of discussions or allow scheduling of office hours with individual students.

Instructors considering Virtual Office Hours may find the below links to resources at the University of Minnesota helpful in getting started:

UM Chat (Jabber)
* Standalone application
* Digital Media Center's UMChat Page
* UMChat Help Page
* Login to Web Client

WebVista Chat
* Inside a course management system
* UTTC Online training video or PDF
* Deciding on whether to use WebVista or UM Chat

WebVista Wimba "Voice Direct"
* Inside a course management system
* WebVista information webpage

Moodle Chat
* Inside a course management system
* Moodle instructor guide on chat

Here's a link to an informative and idea-generating video that was created at Purdue University. Faculty describe their use of Adobe Connect.

If you'd like to get started with UMConnect, please visit: