Project blogs are perhaps the most useful concept for the classroom because they are devoted to a specific purpose that often has a defined beginning and end. When I first started blogging I read a lot of advice that all had to do with building a long-term audience for a blog. Update frequently and consistently for an extended period of time, the bloggers always said.
That’s good advice if that’s the kind of blog you’re after. But you don’t have to be a blogger for the long haul to make good use of the blog as a project space.
My first project blog lasted for 24 hours. Those were the terms decided beforehand. It was called Blogathon for Pearlington, and I did it with Joanna Howard to commemorate and raise money for victims of Katrina. We posted updates every thirty minutes for 24 hours. We sent links to all of our friends, and we asked them to support the hurricane recovery efforts. By the time we blogged for 24 hours and followed up for a couple of weeks, we had 81 posts, all telling the story of the small town of Pearlington and the devastation along the Gulf Coast.
We hear a lot of talk about service learning these days. Blogging for charity or to raise awareness of a cause is a great student service learning project.
I did the Welty blog to celebrate Eudora Welty’s centennial. I started out to post a new entry every day as I blogged my way through Eudora Welty’s Collected Stories. That sort of worked out. I didn’t always post every day, and I got busy and quit before I’d made it through the last section of the collection. But that’s okay. It’s still there, and I can go back to it whenever I want. I probably will at some point. Regardless, I got a lot out of doing it, and I think this kind of reading response blog is a great exercise for students. I wouldn’t require students to post every day, though. That’s tough. I’d suggest twice a week.
I set Media Memoir up as a sample electronic literacy project for the South Mississippi Writing Project. It’s a compilation of media memories just as it sounds, with links and YouTube videos and such embedded in the posts. It was lots of fun to create, and I would very much encourage similar projects with students. This kind of project is so enjoyable that you don’t notice how much you are learning from doing it.