Inside Higher Ed :: An Academic Blog for Students

The university of Pennsylvania reportedly will require all incoming freshman to “keep blogs” of their academic progress, though I’m sure many in the blogosphere will have serious issues with the use of the term. New students will complete online journal entries that will focus on their academic interests and concerns, background information and summaries of experience. Other than the on-line part though, most of the features that we’ve come to associate with educational blogs will be missing.

Unlike typical blogs, the Penn blogs will not be public. Access is limited to the student, the student’s advisor, and, under certain circumstances, authorized university officials.

The decision to require all students to use the tool was made after a pilot that involved 300 students. The Inside Higher Ed article doesn’t give any detail about how the pilot was evaluated. Given the free wheeling nature of most of the online journals that naturally attract students, the restrictions that the university has in place seem pretty draconian.

Because the College of Arts and Sciences sponsors the journal pages, DeTurck said the school is responsible for monitoring the quality in order to avoid liability issues. The student pages are considered academic records, and after an entry is completed, it cannot be altered by the student. Members of the college’s counseling office can look at material if it is deemed to be relating to the student’s mental health.

Seems like a good way to use the technology to enhance the communication between advisor and advisee; I just think I’d call it something different so that faculty who want to use blogs in the more traditional sense won’t have to overcome of misconceptions that would be developed through this program.