Here is some food for thought about blogging and evaluation.
I started a new session with a group of students who are at the upper-intermediate level. We had a nice chat about blogging - about the importance of writing journals on a daily basis, having an audience to write for, reading and responding to other people's blogs. We also discussed the idea of personalizing their blogs into their 'own spaces'. They really liked this idea of a personal space and played with different layouts, templates, and colours. They really got engaged with it.
Then we opened our accounts and the students wrote their introductions, created "About" pages, and included links and pictures with their posts. Some of them took the initiative and started commenting on their classmates' blogs, which was nice. There was a lot of chatting in general and it was clear that they had a lot of fun. I was thrilled that they were so creative and enthusiastic about this. It was something much more exciting than learning English from a textbook!
Then, the following day, I received this email from one of the students:
"I have three questions about our blog:
1. How many articles should I write in blog per week?
2. Can I write anything as I want in my blog or should I write down some specific topics in my blog?
3. Is our blog be counted in our mark? If it is so, what are the requirements for getting high mark?"
I wasn't surprised by the email but I thought it was so sad that this student was looking at this really creative, fun, and open assignment in this cold and calculated way. "What are the requirements for getting high mark?" My gosh, I thought, are we engaged in learning a language or learning how to get high marks?
I was not surprised by this student's email though. It was something that I could have expected. With a continuous emphasis that we put on marks and evaluations, we condition our students to ask these type of questions and to think that whatever they do in school is done for marks. We teach them that every assignment will be rewarded with a mark and that learning is measured by the marks they receive, the abstract 77.3% which means that their English level is at 77.3% and not at 77.2%. There is a difference, we tell them. We can measure that, we tell them. Expect all your work and efforts to be numerically calculated, we tell them. I was not surprised then by the email. I was not pleased, however.
I wouldn't want to receive more emails like this one in the future. What do I do?
P.S. What mark would I get for my blog?