At Virginia Commonwealth University, nearly 30,000 students were encouraged to start blogging about their schoolwork. It was a way to incorporate social media, something that almost all college students are fond of, with education.
Gardner Campbell, Vice Provost for learning innovation and student success, said that this “catastrophic success…does not do justice to his real vision for both VCU and higher education.” He wants to change the direction, definition and purpose of concepts like online education and curriculum.
VCU worked with a vendor to set up a WordPress installation that would allow students to communicate with each other and their teachers as well as do their work online. Campbell explains how these blogs can act as an e-Portfolio. Since it is public, any other staff and faculty will be able to access it and view students’ work.
One example of using blogging for coursework was when students were asked to go out and take pictures of plants, post them on their blogs and add tags to them. This helped when biology students were studying botany.
Campbell referred to this as a catastrophic success in spite of the few disadvantages that the web can pose, such as poor connectivity. There can also be a low limit of how many students can sign up for the blog.
Nonetheless, Campbell said that VCU should look past the technological challenges and focus on the potential that this approach can have. This is just a work in progress, and could help advocates understand that a culture of a university should be more about content and course delivery.
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