One of the things I love about using weblogs with my students is the flexibility it can build into the curriculum.
Case in point: In the last couple of years, the Philadelphia Inquirer has been having financial difficulties like many other big city dailies (To read more about the Inky’s most recent problems click here). Ten months ago Amanda Bennett, the editor-in-chief of the paper, wrote about plans she had to serve readers better given the prevalence of 24-hour news. Since then I’ve had each new section of journalism students read this article and respond to it.
On Sunday morning, I was reading the paper and read Ms. Bennett’s last column as editor of the paper. She is being forced out by the new owners, but her column is a positive piece about how journalism and newspapers will survive changes in society, technology, and economics. I went to the Inquirer’s online site, and created a link to the article in a post on my class weblog. By 9:30 the next morning my students were reading and responding to the column through the discuss feature of the blog. Their comments were honest and well thought out.
After class was over, I e-mailed Ms. Bennett and told her about our weblog and by 11:45 AM she had read my students comments and responded to them.
The next day when I told my students that Ms. Bennett had responded they actually seemed impressed (at least some of them), and they quickly logged on to see what she had to say.