Friday, January 18, 2008

EconoBlogging Course at Ohio U

Donald Lacombe, an associate professor at Ohio University is offering a course he calls EconoBlogging. He has posted about discussions in class on the economics of bad behavior, growth, ethanol, the FDA and trade-offs. He appears to be using the blog as a reflection and summary of each days class.

Using a blog in class is potentially a great use of technology and there are other examples of this. Steve Greenlaw has actively used his blog (and later a wiki) to support his class. (see here and here) Greg Mankiw uses his blog to keep in touch with his current and former students. (The fact that it is ranked 3rd among all economics blogs is just a bonus for all of us). I have reflected on a problem based learning experience in my econometrics class in this blog.

Steve Greenlaw gave a presentation at Cambridge University last year called Augmenting Teaching and Learning With Social Software which is available as an online paper and a blog to support the presentation. Seeing what is possible with Web2.0 software for teaching economics is fun to watch and I encourage others to try.

I wonder how students take to blogs and how important they really are to the teaching and learning process for them. It is clearly important to many professors. As with many uses of technology the measurement of learning is very difficult. My mantra is always not to use technology unless you enhance student learning or you make professors or students time more efficient. I think the key is really whether students engage more with social software (blogs included) and thereby provide for deeper learning.

Last week I attended a lecture by Don Tapscott on his book Wikinomics. He focuses on the corporation in the wiki world, but he made a comment that he could have been talking about higher education. My mind started racing towards whether his four drivers (1) Web2.0, (2) The Net Generation. (3) The (online) Social Revolution and (4) The Economic Revolution couldn't be applied towards higher education and in particular to the teaching of economics. My head is still swimming on this so perhaps I will post some thoughts soon.

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