Across the country, blog writing has become a basic requirement in everything from M.B.A. to literature courses. On its face, who could disagree with the transformation? Why not replace a staid writing exercise with a medium that gives the writer the immediacy of an audience, a feeling of relevancy, instant feedback from classmates or readers, and a practical connection to contemporary communications? (Matt Richtel)
On Friday, January 20, 2012, Matt Richtel wrote in The New York Times about the “debate” between assigning blogs and assigning academic papers in college classes.
In the article “Blogs vs. Term Papers,” he captures a few schools of thought on the value of the blog in a college classroom.
One school sees the blog as a way to get the sort of thinking and reflection professors often want from students without burdening students with the relatively odd format of the academic/research paper.
The other school of thought views the blog with suspicion. For this group, blogging is a kind of giving in to what they see as the less rigorous, the personal and expressive, and the casual off-the-cuff commentary we often find in chat rooms, Facebook posts, or even text messages.
Our course makes a nod in the direction of both schools of thought here. We’re doing the “academic” writing stuff in class BECAUSE I know you’ll need to be able to handle that kind of intellectual and stylistic work in other courses throughout college. But we’re also doing the “blog thing,” though not in quite the same way captured by the article.
Richtel’s piece, it seems to me, largely misses the key idea that 21st century writers need to be able to work in multiple genres and formats. Frankly, the quotes he features in his article set up the blog as a digital writing “log” or “journal,” a 21st century equivalent of the homework questions professors have long required of students. We do THAT work on the course website in a blog platform.
But if that’s our idea of the “blog,” we’re missing a big piece of the blog genre. For this reason, you actually take up YOUR OWN blogs in this course. You choose a topic for your blog and your purpose. You’ll be thinking about your audience, and working to be part of the blogosphere that goes far beyond OUR class.
If I had to “align” our approach with one expressed by a professor in Richtel’s article, I would say that we’re doing something akin to what Andrea Lunsford articulates in the piece.
Check out the article. Weigh in with a comment.