Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How will you grade this?

Last weekend I finished reading the book Second Language Teaching and Learning in the Net Generation. It was an interesting book, recommended for both Instructional Designers and Language Teachers alike. Some chapters as admittedly better than others, but as a whole the book was quite good (related note: follow me on GoodReads).

Hot on the heels of this I came across a post on ProfHacker called "How are you going to grade this? Evaluating classroom blogs". Instructors in our Instructional Design program drilled into us the, by now, infamous WIIFM (What's In It For Me) - learners are going to ask this before they take any course (or learning event) that you design. Well, the question that I (and my fellow students) were asking once we were in the course was "How is this assignment going to be graded?" Learning is all nice and dandy but in the end we need to achieve a certain grade and knowing the grading rubric helps us focus our work.

In any case, this post on ProfHacker was something that I did not encounter in the book I read, and I thought it was important to link these two items together. So how do you grade a blog (and it's associated blog posts)? The article is pretty good, so I won't summarize it for you (just go an read it, it's free and it doesn't take that long :-) ) but I will point out something that really stood out to me.

In this blog post (and in others about technology), it appears to me that people are constrained by existing paradigms of how things work. An example of this constraint is using the standard research paper format on a blog - just text and nothing else. When you are using some new medium (and associated tech that accompanies that medium), it is important to break out of the conventions of the older medium and have the new medium embrace and extend those older methodologies.

For instance, in traditional papers (the dead tree kind), the convention for citations is a giant Works Cited list at the bottom of the paper. In blogs, while I still think there should be references and Works Cited lists, why not hyperlink them? Instead of listing a book, why not link to the WorldCat page for that book or an Amazon listing for that book? If you got an academic article from a database, why not hyperlink to that article's persistent URL? The same principles applies of hyperlinking apply to footnotes and endnotes - you can link to other places for more information.

In addition to linking to textual sources, students can embed charts and illustrations, video and audio - some of these media types not always an option in the dead-tree-edition of a research paper :-) Using comments for constructive feedback is also another great use of a blog. Why post it online if you aren't going to allow for peer feedback?

I think that the advice on ProfHacker is really on the ball: instructors must "ensur[e] that blogging has a purpose besides just reducing the use of paper."

So how will you grade your class' blog posts? That's up to you, but if I were teaching I would ensure that in my grading rubric has a section for the utilization of hypertext's potential - in addition to other things of course.
blog comments powered by Disqus