Making Curriculum Pop

I've cross-posted this in another group to reach as many people as possible.

I teach an undergrad media, culture and society class and require my students
to post on a class Ning site every week. They post on a forum with a
specific question related to the week's topic. They are also required
to write a blog post which serves as a media journal. The only
guideline is to reflect on something they encounter about media during
the week that relates to anything discussed in class.

A lot of the posts are pretty uninteresting and I would like to hear of any
suggestions for ways to guide more insightful commentary. If any of you
out there require media journals in your courses, what are some
suggestions or guidelines that you offer to your students?



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Replies to This Discussion

I participated in a graduate level class last semester where we had to do the exact same thing. For me, I always was finding new and interesting articles about things that I hadn't heard about before...but I haven't interacted with technology as much as undergrads maybe. One thing you could do is provide new and interesting media links that you find throughout the week and see if that spurs them to post something interesting. I got inspired when creating digital videos for the first time, when reading a random article from the yahoo homepage when I logged on, when I found out about TED talks in another class I was taking. Here is my blog that you are welcome to use as an example of different possibilities if you find it helpful.
I teach both undergrad and grad literature and critical theory classes and require my students to post weekly from outside disciplines. I find that the undergrads do not do well when left with open-ended assignments. They will do better when you provide them with guided questions, so I usually post five guided questions per week about the material we discussed,in class and ask them to find something to post that they believe would be the beginning of an answer to one of my questions. They must also post five sentences of their own explaining why they selected to post the particular item. It has worked wonderfully. Try it! It takes longer to do, but the results are worth it. Let me know how it works. Good luck!
Thanks for your tips. What you say is true-- I have a very good response in the forum through directed questions. My hope for the journal was to see how what they are learning in class is reflected in every day life. Maybe I should use that last line as my guideline so that what ever they write it ties back into the course material.

Again, thanks!

Antonio, I find that any journal response benefits from the scaffolding of a good rubric that expects students to make text to text, text to class, text to world connections. To those ends, you might be able to use or remix the PLAYLIST: Text Reflection/Journal LEO©. I use this for online and print journals and it generally helps students made interesting and unique connections (a la the Connect the Minds Activity & Quiz) in journal form.
Thanks Ryan, those were very good suggestions!



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