Forced Blogging: Students' Emotional Investment in their Academic Weblogs

[Grr… the Word file that has my abstract in it won’t open on this public terminal on the convention floor. I’m retyping this from my lecture notes.]

When a curricular weblog program was made available to all students, faculty and staff at a small liberal arts university, the students, expected to blog as part of their course grade, initially expected to be told what to write about, how frequently to write, and how many words were required. While about a quarter of the students rarely if ever blogged more than the bare minimum, and therefore appreciated being told exactly what their blogging should be, other students quickly developed a sense of audience and ownership over their own blogging space; these students object to “forced blogging” assignments, reporting that their regular readers found those entries boring, or becuase the academic discourse they felt they had to adopt jarred with the tone offered by the rest of the site’s content. The field of composition studies encourages students to invest themselves in and take ownership over their writing. How do issues of “investment” and “ownership” translate into their participation in a shared blogging environment? My presentation examines the tension between forced blogging and voluntary blogging. Blogging is a medium that developed to meet the needs of a specific kind of writer. As many of us who teach with weblogs have quickly recognized, not every student is that kind of writer. Incorporating blogging into our curricula requires us to address these questions.

New Media Journalism @ Seton Hill University

Forced Blogging: Students’ Emotional Investment in their Academic WeblogsCCCC 04)

Among those in the audience was Ann Raimes, whose “Keys for Writers” I’ve used for years. She’s considering using blogs as an example of student writing in her next revision, and says she’s been reading through SHU student blogs.