I think that one of the most important areas of student learning that our core curriculum presents is growth for students in writing skills. We’ve all struggled through our own development of writing skills, whether in early days of trying to learn sentence structure as a child, academic writing in a doctoral dissertation (eeek!), or trying to write a professional memo. As student affairs professionals, we play a role in helping students to advance their writing skills and over the years I’ve been trying to refine my professional activities to build more ways for that to happen.
One of these strategies that has been developed over time by members of our staff is the use of blogging with students who are participating in off-campus professional conferences. We have used this approach to replace what used to be the “come back to the meeting and tell us what you learned” presentation and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the opportunities this blogging program has presented to us.
We use the blog every few years to illustrate student take-aways from the conference. A simple content analysis process shows you what the most prevalent themes from student posts can be and it’s shown us that our students post most often about their how these conferences enhance their pride in BSU. Such a great piece of insight for us!
– Reflective writing
Over the years we have tried many different approaches to guide student posts. Some years we have given them topics, other years we have let them free write and additional years have used an approach where they take turns blogging about different parts of the conference. It all brings different types of information forward so you would want to choose your structure carefully to be sure that it will elicit the content you desire.
– Engagement with the folks “back home”
Not everyone from a department or organization can attend a conference. It’s great to see the opportunity that blogs present to the students for engagement about ideas in “real time” with their fellow organization members if you can encourage them to actively comment on the posts and to read diligently.
Students from Program Committee and the Residence Hall Association will be blogging this coming week as they attend the Northeast Regional Conference for the National Association for Campus Activities in Hartford, CT. At this event, students will attend educational sessions, entertainment showcases and a trade show that offers them the chance to discuss potential contracts and other lecturers, artists and agencies that support the business partnerships between education and entertainment. Follow their adventures here: bsuatnaca.wordpress.com