I see that I am finding it hard to get to grips with all the – very often amazing- blogs that are written by my students. I always seem to be behind with reading the most recent posts.It is certainly a lessons learned for next year. But how to solve it?
Something that I have to figure out, is how to provide feedback on the blogs from an education point of view? Now I provide comments on 1) the content and 2) the quality of the blog. In terms of content I share more information about the topic or share my humble opinion or correct a wrong fact. Feedback on the quality of the blog is a whole different ballgame. Students are used to receive feedback on their work through an individual assessment form. However, blogging is open to the world and so are all the comments/feedback I give as a lecturer. What to do with this? Should I comment on quality at all (like I do now) or perhaps leave this only for the formal assessment (which I also do but only at the end of the course)? But doesn’t that take away the whole flexibility and interconnectivity of using blogs in education which makes it dynamic and creates a much closer lecturer-student relationship where comments go back and forth and we truly learn from each other?
Whatever the outcome is of my above question, I did learn one important lesson this week and that is to be careful with stating comments on quality. I need to be just as respectful in my phrasing as I demand from my students!
Since I let my students free to write about any topic they want in relation to economic policy in the EU, the bogs are very diverse in theme. This complicates it to link the blogs to the regular classes and class exercises. For my weekly regular classes I stick to my red line in the story even though students are busy with different themes in their mind and thus in their blogs. I am not sure if this is working really well. But I asked a couple of students whether I should perhaps limit their blog writing to the weekly topic, but they said that it is exactly the freedom of choice which motivates them to blog. And I agree with them. I don’t want to limit their motivation and creativity. But how to solve this?
So for this time….lots of questions. Looking forward to hear from you.
My students have now been blogging for at least 2 weeks and I am still excited and enthusiastic about this new teaching concept! It does take a lot of my personal time to follow all the blogs and write online comments but I think it is worth the cause and it is certainly fun to do. I am astonished what subjects the students write about. Here’s a list of topics that I have seen passing by last week:
- Tax evasion and Switzerland
- Situation of Greece
- Digital currency
- Sanctioning Russia through SWIFT
- Deflation, ECB and all about quantitative easing
- The €-Swiss Franc peg
- The youth labour market in Europe
- Costs and benefits from EU Membership
This is certainly impressive keeping in mind that my students are typically NOT interested in economics. It shows that they are really doing an effort to actually grasp what it going on in the recent economic news and properly think about it. OK, some thoughts go in all directions and they don’t always have their facts straight, but they don’t have to. They are students. My main goal is to get them enthusiastic about economic policy and show them how interesting this world actually is. If my students will continue to follow the news and read about economics after my course I definitely reached my goal!
The trick as a lecturer is to let all this student-made content (because that’s what it is!) come back in the classroom through groups discussions and exercises. This means I need to weekly tailor my classes to what the students write. This is not an easy task. I am struggling as I also want to keep a bit of a logical structure of explaining EU policy to the students. For instance this week my literature is all about government budgets, deficits and debts, but the students were most keen to write about quantitative easing but this subject pops up in my planning and literature elsewhere.
Obviously, me being enthusiastic doesn’t mean that my students are also very enthusiastic (despite the fact that they write great stuff) Let’s hope so. I’ll soon find out in the next couple of weeks. So more blogs to follow!
For those who are interested, here are all the links to the student weblogs:
I’ve spent this evening reading the blogs of my students and I must say it certainly looks promising. A wide variety of economic topics was discussed ranging from a very hot topic (the situation of Greece) to a surprising topic (Ebola and its detrimental effect on the African economy) and a quite difficult topic (the situation of EU banking supervision).
What I noticed is that quite a few writers and commentators comment on the predictions of economists. I guess they are right: the predictions often end up skewed, but that is why they are predictions in the first place. They are based on so many assumptions: one of them is bound to be wrong! That is why economists always work with different scenario’s: best case, worst case, most likely case, etc. And they get adjusted as the situation reveals itself.
The high chance of error and complications makes economics a ‘dismal’ science. Translation of dismal can be nasty, wary, pitiful. All words with a negative connotation. BUT somebody has to do the dirty work. Future planning is all based on predictions and without predictions we are basically drifting. But obviously this is an economist speaking…..
Looking forward to your comments!
And check out and become a follower of these great student blogs:
Hurrah, the first workshop today with students went pretty OK considering the fact that none of the students really like economics in the first place and now need to weekly write a blog about it!
They seem to have understood the whole idea and what they can do with it. We talked about recent economic news such as the currency wars, the possible Grexit, the EU sanctions against Russia, and the money printing of the ECB. Just to name a few news items… Hopefully they will pick one of these subjects and dare to write about it in combination with the literature and theories I will discuss with them in class. I left it open to them to tackle the exact angle.
My most tricky issue is now to get to grips with the fact that I will need to weekly read and monitor approximately 18 blogs of my students ! I almost hope that they do not get too enthusiastic and write daily blogs. I am not sure my eyes will handle the workload ;-). The whole system of assessing and grading is another thing to tackle and in which I still need to put my head into.
For the moment I am trying to find as much as information as possible about weblogging in education and I am astonished how little scientific/evaluative articles there seems to be published about this topic. Funnily enough there are a lot of blogs about blogging in education so I am focusing on digesting these. I want my gut feeling that this will work to be backed up with some solid proof from the past that it led to success.
Picture source: http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.nl/2012/03/top-10-technology-blogs-for-education.html
This is my first experience with web logging in education. To be honest…my goal is not to write weblog articles myself, but to let my students start-up and maintain a group weblog where they can weekly write about the course they will be following with me; EU economic policy. More importantly, I want them to reflect on the literature they read in my course and to link it up to the news. EU economic policy is hot with regular news items so there is enough to write about!!
In parallel to weblog activities of my students I will maintain this weblog with news about how it is going education wise: is it working; do the students like it; do I like it; does it help students to study the literature; does it lead to interesting debates, etc.
This way I get to experience what my students are experiencing, yet with a somewhat different topic.