Why not? The whole idea behind blogging is to create a virtual, asynchronous conversation between you and your students and provide a forum for student to student engagement. You want to encourage discussion and empower all students to contribute which doesn’t always happen in face to face classroom dialogues. The risk of course, is that you are not in control of what the students may say, but just like in the classroom, you need to establish the rules and conventions for commenting. The other luxury you have as the manager of the blog is to moderate the comments either before they appear publically (although I would discourage this as it is time consuming and breaks the continuity of the dialogue) or remove them if they are offensive, egregious, or simply off task. Here are some tips for preparing your students to comment:
1. Insist that they use their actual names or agreed upon user names approved and recorded by you.
2. Establish the rules for commenting – is point form allowed or do you want complete sentences? What about spelling and abbreviations? If you are using blogs as a means to improve writing, you may want your students to prepare comment responses in a word document first that can be checked for spelling and grammar and then copied and pasted into the comment box.
3. As you would expect in any discussion, insist that your students support their viewpoints with explicit examples and that any webrelated resources be linked.
4. If participation in the discussion is part of the course evaluation be sure your students have a clear understanding of what your expectations are – how often should they be submitting comments? How long should they be? I recommend the utilization of a rubric that helps students understand their responsibilities and self-evaluate their own participation in blog discussions.
For other resources regarding guidelines for student commenting check out the following links:
Grammar Girl – “How to Write a Great Blog Comment“
How do you Comment?
Often students are confused as to how to comment. Remind them of three simple steps:
1. Type or paste the comment in the comment box. (sometimes they may need to click on the comment balloon or the word “comment”)
2. Leave your name – note that some Blogs require an email or will allow you to log in via Twitter, Facebook or WordPress accounts.
3. Press submit!
Sometimes it is difficult to find the link to the comments on the blog. The following video shows you various places to look for the link:
Do you have any tips or suggestions for commenting? Feel free to add!