University Writing Program pushes blogging

The University Writing program is embracing blogging as part of its curriculum for first-year students.

Heather Schell, director of the first-year writing program, said the UW classes have begun teaching students how to write for blogs as well as for traditional research papers. Schell said blogs can provide students with a new perspective on writing.

“A blog gives students an authentic audience outside of the classroom. Complete strangers might read that blog,” Schell said in an e-mail. “From the perspective of the student writer, this potential audience is real even if no one but the professor happens to read the blog post, because the student had to write as if someone would read it.”

In many of the UW classes, students have to defend their arguments only to a professor, which limits the growth of the student, Schell said.

“A blog gives students a public audience and takes away anonymity, which forces students to confront the civic responsibility of taking ownership of their own ideas,” she said.

In her class titled “Your Body, Their Words: Intersections of Health, Culture, and Rhetoric,” professor Danika Myers has students read blogs by doctors, researchers and other academics who discuss body issues.

“The academic community within a discipline has spread to the blogosphere, and can be a powerful research tool if a student knows how to analyze and approach the information,” Myers said.

Not to be left behind, the UW program also developed a blog, called News and Notes, where students and faculty exchange writing tips with each other, share writing experiences, and comment on anything related to the UW program.

“It offers as a way to communicate with our students that’s a bit less formal and structured than our main Web page,” Schell said.

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