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Dialogue: Blogs and Debate Boards in the Classroom

I am posting a dialogue from the comments to this post. 

Porten: … Although it's not really "blogging about blogging," student operated internet debate boards would serve a similar function. I wonder if there are any?

3L Epiphany: … Internet debate boards and forums can be useful, and I've wondered whether they can serve as a model for a new form of discourse.

   On one hand, this is already going on in a spontaneous way. Students don't need to be encouraged to get involved in these debates, because they already do.

   But I'm suggesting (as in the text of my response to you) that blogs may provide a new model for legal education, by forcing students to respond to criticism. An Internet forum or debate board may be a better place for it. But I am speaking of something "official," for better or worse.

   Students can engage in informal debates themselves, on their own, for their own purposes. But perhaps being put on the spot constantly on your own blog, or in an Internet forum, is a better way of sharpening your argumentative and persuasive skills than getting called on in a class twice a semester. (TWEN is already an example similar to what we are talking about here.)

   Suppose a law professor said that you needed to begin a blog for his class, on his particular topic. Let's say it's Contracts. And every night before his class, or every so often, you are required to post a case brief, and your own analysis of the case, on your blog. Then you are also required to visit other students' blogs, evaluate their work, and post your comments. Other students will do that to yours. Then you are expected to respond to the comments on your blog. If other students have criticized your analysis, you must either acknowledge the points are valid, or vindicate your earlier analysis.

   Of course this could be quite time-consuming. But it provides a different model than the Socratic method within a classroom. Or perhaps this is a version of the Socratic method as applied to student blogs (depending on how the professor oversees it).

   These are just ideas, but I honestly think that students would not mind creating their own blog, and leaving comments on other students' blogs, and then returning to their own blog and responding to criticism. I also think that some professors would enjoy this approach.

Porten: It would seem to solve at least the volume problem your response includes... if there were a class discussion board rather than class blogs for every student, students could argue about cases, which provides the extra Socratic dialogue you seek, with the added bonus that professors can quickly survey the class's discussion, ascertain where major areas of confusion lie and offer assistance all without using lecture time (although, obviously the prof could confront major concerns in lecture).

3L Epiphany: I think that would be a wonderful way of doing it, blending a lecture format with out-of-class blogging, and using the two to compliment each other.

February 26, 2006 in Dialogues | Permalink

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http://3lepiphany.typepad.com/3l_epiphany/2006/02/dialogue_blogs_.html#comment-14406362 The trouble w/students blogging about a law school class is that it would take the prof an unwieldy amount of time to evaluate and track participation.... For some... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 27, 2006 11:09:18 AM

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The trouble w/students blogging about a law school class is that it would take the prof an unwieldy amount of time to evaluate and track participation. My school already has discussion boards for each class and a handful of profs require 2 or so posts/semester from each student. For some classes it's worthwhile, but for the most part the professors tell you that it's a pass/fail thing -- if you do it, you get credit. That means the quality of the posts varies pretty widely and is not necessarily useful. Plus, there's really no way to track whether anyone is reading the posts others have made. So while I agree that more online participation (via blogs or discussion boards) could be valuable to law school classes, I just don't think it would work unless classes were really small (e.g. a dozen students or less), and/or profs had a dedicated team of RAs or something to monitor quality and quantity of participation.

Posted by: ambimb | Feb 27, 2006 11:08:50 AM

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