Message Forums and Blogs

Message forums and blogs allow teachers to extend learning beyond the classroom. Time constraints often prohibit deep discussions of mathematical concepts, advanced problems, etc. Furthermore, teachers often get bogged down with paperwork and don't want to be further burdened with having journals to grade. Why not put it all online and have the students respond outside the classroom?

Message Forum - Allows registered users to post messages on topics. You can regulate the topics and can require users to enter a password to access the forum. Best choice for class discussions.

Blog - Short for "web log". Provide online commentary, news updates, or a personal diary. Typically serve to be informative, but often allow viewers to leave comments. Best for course reflection or for communication during small group projects.

Approximately 52% of all blogs are developed and maintained by individuals ages 13 through 19. Although blogs are primarily text, they may also contain images, photos, and hypertext links to other Internet sites. Teachers are able to post “problems of the week” on blogs that improve students’ mathematical abilities and enhance their problem solving skills (Glazer, 2004). Teachers can also use creative networks, which restrict the blog so that only specific individuals can post comments (Blog, 2008). Potential benefits supporting the use of blogs in mathematics instruction include promoting reflective thinking, nurturing collaboration between peers, increasing student accountability, providing additional student feedback, promoting independent student learning, and encouraging interaction with experts and other students outside the classroom (Macbride, 2008).

There are many free services available to post information online. Here are two that I found to be very useful and user friendly:

Link Description
www.activeboard.com To get up and running, you need to create an account, choose desired settings (requiring passwords, etc.), and then post a discussion topic. You can view an example forum I created at http://brhs.activeboard.com/.
www.blogspot.com Essentially the same process as for the message board above. You can view an example of a blog I created at http://brfogdog.blogspot.com/. You can designate certain people to be contributors. Each student could have their own blog and submit reflections. Click on "BR Student" under contributors.

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