Using Weblogs in Teaching: (from Kairosnews)
"I give one blog "assignment" every week, due on Mondays. I try to vary the types of blogging assignments I give. I guess I have three types 1) Sometimes, they are very structured, dealing with the readings, discussions, etc. that we have had in class that pertain to the particular subject/project we are on. 2) They have a general topic or choice of "prompts" to respond to, again dealing with relevant class topics, and 3) free writes, which have "failed" in my assessment.
Perhaps this is why free writes fail? My online classes tend to attract many ESOL students, and I find they are nervous about choosing their own topics. That's why even when the blogging assignment is more unstructured, I give some topics they can use if they like. Some of the students blog on their own -- journaling, complaining about other classes, venting about writing, etc. I have even had three that started a little poetry club so they can comment on each other's work. Some never blog outside of assignments.
I do assess their blogs -- I make their blogging a very small percentage of their final grade and I am very generous in grading the blogs. I don't count spelling or grammar -- just well developed thought. I think the students know that the blogs aren't "worth much" of their final grades, and thus, they are more likely to write without fear."