One way we could help students connect with each other, and stay connected with their parents and friends who are not at WMU, is by encouraging students to use blogs.
Through a blog, each student could write about their academic and social experiences at WMU. Over four years of writing, each student could look back and utilize previous posts to reflect on as well as demonstrate their personal growth throughout their college experience. Parents could subscribe to their son or daughter’s blog through an RSS feed, or visit the blog on a regular basis. Mom and dad could easily know what their family is up to without having to feel like they are nagging or pestering their child. In addition, when mom and dad did call their son or daughter — they would be able to have a richer conversation: “Bill, we read that you went to the homecoming opener at Waldo Stadium and ran into your old friend Jeff — that is SO COOL! What are you guys up to this weekend?”.
WMU could be one of the first universities to partner with Blogger, WordPress, or MoveableType to deliver a rich blogging service to students. The technology used to support blogging is very easily to integrate and deploy.
Academically, blogs could be used to support student information technology literacy — students will learn electronic communication and collaboration skills. Blogs can be used to do group work — each student could invite other students to be guest authors on their blog. Course work could be made a part of blog activity too — instructors could assign students short papers or research projects and require students to post individual and/or group work on blogs. Finally, instructors could even use Mashups (a single source that combines multiple blog feeds) to create collaborative learning environments.