March 7, 2020

BTBGuide: Advantages of Blogging: Daily Announcements

Blogging has been the center of my work teaching online: I blog, and my students all blog too! In this Guide, I am going to focus on the idea of a blog channel for class communication, a "Daily Announcements" type of blog that teachers can use to be there for their students. To get a sense of how that works, take a look; this is my Daily Class Announcements blog.

Every day, there is a new blog post. A new post every day conveys the sense of always being there, day by day. No matter what day students are doing work for the class, there's something new that day at the announcements. The information is current, and the content is also fresh and fun.

Easy to manage. I queue up tomorrow's post in advance; the new post goes live at midnight (while I'm happily snoozing). If I'm going to be out of town, I queue up all the announcements before I leave town. Plus, while each post is long, I'm writing very little new content; almost all of the content is recycled from semester to semester, and that's fine: that old content is new to this semester's students!

Different content for different purposes. At the top of each day's post, I identify where we are at in the semester with a link to current assignments. Below that I have two (or maybe three) pertinent notes about class procedures and reminders, and then below that is a big body of content to explore. I include items there from the class blog stream and from Twitter, past student projects, videos, graphics, plus a featured campus event of the day and an "on this day" holiday or anniversary. The idea is to keep the students informed (stuff in the top part of the post), but also to stimulate their curiosity and support their learning in a more general sense (stuff in the lower part of the post).

Dynamic sidebar content. In addition to the fresh daily content, there is even more fresh content in the sidebar. The blog sidebar is one of my favorite thing about blogging (and yes, I use the more old-fashioned templates where the sidebar is always visible). I put dynamic content in the sidebar so that in addition to the new content every day in the post, there is new content each time the page reloads: random mindset cats, random student advice, random books, all kinds of randomness going on. So, if a student sees the announcements more than once in a given day, there is still a sense of newness each time that happens.

Personal presence. Above and beyond the syllabus, the assignments, etc., this is a place where I can connect with the students, being there for them as a teacher, and also as a learner. As I learn new things online (which I do every day!), I can share what I am learning with my students too. The Announcements blog is a space where I show the students how I connect, learn, and share online, hoping that they will want to connect, learn, and share online too.

Learning: it's all about making connections. :-)

Picture your brain forming new connections.