Roundtable at MMLA: Using Blogs in the Feminist Classroom

This blog entry serves as a virtual handout for my contribution to a roundtable at the Midwest Modern Language Association Conference in Chicago on November 5th. I also plan to distribute hard copies of the handout at the actual event.

Sara L. Puotinen (University of Minnesota,
Using Blogs in the Feminist Classroom

Some Links:

My personal research/writing blog: (making/being in/staying in) TROUBLE
Feminist pedagogy diablog with Kandace Creel Falcón: It’s Diablogical!
List of my course blogs at the U of Minnesota: An Introduction
My blog workshop (2/2010): Teaching with Blogs and Blogging While Teaching

Why blogging is useful for feminist pedagogy:

  • Shifting/reworking/disrupting who counts as an authority or who can produce/share knowledge
  • Providing students with more ways to engage and express that engagement
  • Enabling students to learn from each other, enabling instructor to learn from students
  • Requiring students to claim more responsibility for the class and how it works/doesn’t work
  • Training students in an important form of technology
  • Giving the instructor more opportunities to engage with students/material and to share their own research/knowledge in creative ways
  • Disrupting the rigid boundaries of the classroom in space and time
  • Encouraging the instructor to experiment with new techniques and strategies
  • Cultivating a space for public scholarship and for connecting with a wide range of people/communities inside and outside of the class and the university

Some Tips:

  • Successful blogs require assignments that are more than just offline assignments posted online.
  • Think about the blog as a location for reading and writing and reflect that in your assignments.
  • Bring blog entries, comments, and discussions into your offline class sessions.
  • In order to get students to use the blog, you must make it worth their while.
  • Spend some time at the beginning of the semester training students on how to use the blog.
  • Spend a lot of time really thinking through all of the details of your blog assignments.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with new techniques on the blog.
  • Don’t just assign weekly blog posts to your students that involve responding to your questions.
  • If you want students to be excited about the blog and take it seriously, you need to too.
  • Complete at least some of the assignments that you require your students to do.
  • Blogs work better in the classroom when we read and think more about what kind of teaching/learning practice blogging is (and/or could be).

A few examples of how I use blogs:

An Assignment:
My explanation  Example One: This is a Feminist Issue Because…
The entries This is a Feminist Issue Because…

The entry Day 8: October 27

Interactive Lecture:
My explanation Example Two: Organizing Class Discussion
The entry A Feminist Response to the Arizona Immigration Bill (SB1070)