One of the most flexible ways to use UR Blogs in the classroom is the portfolio model. In this approach, students each have their own site on UR Blogs where they not only publish their work, but also choose how their work is organized and displayed to visitors. Meanwhile, the faculty member establishes a central course site which includes links to, and/or automatically publishes selected content from, the students’ individual sites. The faculty member retains control over how work is organized and displayed on the central site.
Advantages to this model include ease of use for both faculty and students, who only have to visit one site (the central site) to see the work done by all students in the course. In addition to learning course material, students who use this model also gain practical experience using WordPress, which powers more than 24% of all websites, and leave the course with a complete project website they own and can refer to on internship and job applications.
This model is recommended for courses in which students are working on similarly structured but distinct projects. For example, an “American Music of the 1960s” class might ask each student to conduct research on a particular musical artist, and to design their sites using colors, images, and other media that help represent that artist and their genre. Sites about Jimi Hendrix, the Beach Boys, and Aretha Franklin would likely contain the same types of information, while looking very different from one another.
Similarly, a “Biology of Cancer” class might break students into groups, and ask each group to conduct research about recent developments and breakthroughs related to a particular cancer treatment. Sites about surgery, chemotherapy, and stem cell transplants might all have a similar visual design, but may include different types of information or need to use slightly different organizational structures.
The technical skill level required to use this model can be very low. Faculty members are welcome to contact their CTLT Liaison for help in establishing the central site, including setting up the mechanism that automatically pulls in student work. Liaisons can also help with the creation of student portfolios, including pre-populating them with organizational structures and sample content. Last but not least, we are happy to schedule class visits to introduce students to the portfolio model and demonstrate how to use it.