This fall marks the second time that I’ve taught my library’s three-credit course, LIB 1015: Information Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities (my course website). I’ve been struggling this semester with how to draw out the students who never raise their hands in class to participate in any class discussions or to ask a question. Classroom participation is a big part of each student’s grade (25 percent), as my class has daily hands-on activities that are intended to create discussion as well as practice in key abilities and strategies connected to ACRL’s information literacy standards and to the overall learning goals for the class.
I’ve had a course blog for the first time this semester and haven’t been quite sure how I want to use it. Now I’m beginning to think that maybe I can offer my students a blogging option for participation. I might tell them that if they are not ready to speak up in class, they can still get credit for participation by posting to the blog or commenting on someone else’s post. I suspect that some people who might have really great things to ask about or comment on in class might be shy; offering them an option to contribute on the blog might give them a space where they feel more comfortable expressing themselves. I should note that I was inspired to think of my course blog this way after reading Erica Kaufman’s post, “The Anxiety of Print This Out” on the cac.aphony blog which talks about times when student writing on blog posts is better than the papers that they turn in.