By Tyler Isbell
Are you looking for different ways to incorporate more student writing in your classroom? Consider student blogs.
Students blogs can provide:
- A way to have your students write frequently in your classroom without having to assign (and grade) more term papers or essays.
- A creative means to have your students reflect upon their thoughts, experiences, and course content in a space they can design.
- A platform for students share their ideas on a course topic, work with their peers, and connect with an authentic audience.
If you are unsure what a blog is, check out this four minute YouTube video. Essentially, we understand that a blog is a collection of one’s “thoughts, ideas, experiences, and more” presented in one place online (WPMU DEV, 2013). The creation of this collection will allow students to practice writing and improve their communication skills, while also sharpening their brain’s performance and boosting their confidence.
All of this is in a space that students can design to be their own and be shared with more than an audience of one instructor (Thomson, 2018). Furthermore, students work with and learn from both their instructors and peers virtually. Blogs provide chances for students to see others’ perspectives and to explore other resources included in posts. These opportunities promote active learning, student ownership, and reflective practices, provided that the purpose of and expectations for blogging in the classroom is clearly defined to the students (Chawinga, 2017).
How Do I Create Student Blogs (in Canvas)?
A quick search of the Canvas Guides for student blogs will turn up no results. Although I did find three interesting videos from previous InstructureCons (the Canvas annual conference – See the list at the bottom) regarding the benefits of student blogging, Canvas currently does not have a native blog feature or tool. However, instructors have developed a few options that others may adopt in order to include student blog posts within their Canvas courses. I will highlight two main solutions in the table below:
Native Tool Substitution – Discussions
Third-Party Tools – Blog + Aggregator
|Individual discussion boards are set up for each student as a ‘blog.’||Students use a third-party tools such as WordPress, Blogspot, or Tumblr to create their own blog. Another third-party tool knowns as an aggregator is then embedded into Canvas in order to present student blog posts within a Canvas page.|
|Canvas Discussion Example||Blogspot/Inoreader Feed (Gibb’s Example)Tumblr/Inoreader Feed|
Benefits of using the Canvas discussion tool
Benefits of using third party tools
Setbacks for using the Canvas discussion tool
Setbacks for using third party tools
- Go to ‘Discussions’ on your Course navigation.
- To create a student blog, click the +Discussion button.
- Input the name of the blog.
- Use the Rich Content Editor box to add a description of the blog.You may also include instructions for the author and/or guidelines for replying to a post.
- Choose ‘Options’ – Allow Threaded replies should be checked.
- Click the ‘Save’ or ‘Save and Publish’ buttons.
*In your course ‘Settings’, it is recommended that you uncheck ‘Let students create discussion topics’ and check ‘Let students attach files to discussions’ and ‘Let students edit or delete their own discussion posts.’
Solution 2 Guide
Step 1: Student creating blogs and aggregating their feeds into Inoreader
Instructions on collecting student blog posts into Inoreader for easy instructor access.
Step 2: Embedding Inoreader feed into Canvas
Instructions on embedding Inoreader feed in Canvas in order to share/publish student blogs in Canvas.
Tested Third-Party Tools
Here are a few tools tested to work well for student blogging and Canvas integration.
Learn more on our ‘Exploring Student Blogs’ Canvas Page: https://cbu.instructure.com/courses/3988/pages/blogs-in-canvas
Note: Whether you wish to use solution 1 or 2, feel free to contact our team if you have any questions, concerns, or difficulties setting up or facilitating an activity in your course!
OLET@cbu.edu (901) 321-4004
Extra Canvas Resources:
- Sharing Stories: Student Blogging, Journaling, and Wikis – Video | InstructureCon 2015
- Using Canvas and Blogs for Student Publishing and Reflecting – Video | InstructureCon 2016
- Outworld, In Canvas Leveraging & Integrating Blogs – Video | InstructureCon 2012
Chawinga, W. D. (2017). Taking social media to a university classroom: teaching and learning using Twitter and blogs. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 14(1). doi: 10.1186/s41239-017-0041-6 https://educationaltechnologyjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41239-017-0041-6
____________________Tyler Isbell is an Instructional Designer and Trainer for the Center for Digital Instruction at Christian Brothers University. He holds an Educational Technology Master’s Degree from Boise State University and masters-level certification in Technology Integration and Online Teaching. Before coming to CBU, Tyler was a trainer and instructional specialist in secondary education.