I have for several years now offered students in my advanced philosophy and Honors courses the option of blogging in lieu of authoring more traditional research essays. When properly utilized, blogging can extend and enrich class discussions, facilitate conversations about course-related topics not previously or fully addressed in class, encourage students to exercise autonomy and creativity in sharing their own resources and critical analyses, and, most importantly from my vantage point as an educator, provide a regular, out-of-classroom, easily accessible mechanism for students to apply, internalize, and deepen their understanding of course material.
Sadly, I’ve witnessed over this past semester a dramatic upsurge in the number of students who choose the blogging option and then, for whatever reason, opt out of fulfilling the minimum, clearly articulated, expectations for successful blogging.
Faced with this kind of blogging devolution, a lesser epistemologist might be inclined to retreat to more traditional, directive, and teacher-centered methods. But my two-decade foray into all-things-epistemic has confirmed my intuition that successful pedagogy has little to do with the passive transfer of information from one mind to the next (and, like music instruction, certainly will not succeed to any significant degree during the lessons/classes themselves), but of necessity involves the daily, active, individual construction of each new element of knowledge. And, as a bonus, the activities blogging entails and engenders are precisely those I most value in classroom settings.
So, I have my first New Year’s resolution: blogging as a student-based, writing-intensive, discussion-oriented, autonomy-inducing method par excellence, will form an even greater part of the total course requirements for all students in my advanced seminars this coming spring.