Centralized Model

playmobil-451203_1280One of the simplest ways to use UR Blogs in the classroom is the centralized model. In this approach, students all contribute to a single site, while the faculty member controls how that information is organized and displayed. Students have control over what they post, while faculty members have decision-making ability over who can access the site, and whether that information remains available after the course is over.

Advantages to this model include an easier and faster setup process, as only the faculty member needs to establish a site. Depending on what is expected from them, students may be able to participate without logging in, or may log in with their existing UR NetID. Keeping all course activity in one place (instead of distributed between a central site and student portfolios) also makes it easier for students to keep track of where they should be submitting work.

This model is recommended for courses in which all students will take part in considering and discussing the same topics. For example, an “Interpretations of the Bible” course might ask a few students to post reflections on each class session as a way to start discussion, and then ask other students to continue the conversations by leaving comments on each post.

Similarly, a “Politics of Presidential Elections” course might encourage students to share and comment on recent news stories, including collecting tweets, videos, and other media. This course might use the available privacy options to restrict participation, or even viewing the site, to those whom the faculty member has approved.

The technical skill level required to use this model is low. CTLT Liaisons are available to help faculty establish and build a site, and also to schedule class visits to help students understand how to use the site. Even if students do not have previous experience with WordPress specifically, many of the tasks they need to perform will be familiar to those who have participated in online discussion forums.