In my introduction to this series, I wrote about my own experiences as a college student in the days before internet usage became widespread.

An enduring memory from those days is those packets of supplemental readings that many of my professors required. After buying scores of textbooks, I would trek uptown with my friends to Kinkos to buy those extra resources, articles copied and bound carefully.

In many ways, I preferred the supplemental readings to the texts. Typically, they were more up-to-date, more interesting.

By integrating online resources into the classroom, instructors can transform learning in a way that goes far beyond just adding interesting, current materials to supplement textbooks.

Instructors who successfully integrate online resources will likely have a set of learning objectives that remain constant; we may assign key readings from a textbook. Yet we will make two important commitments in order to achieve two important results.

Instructors will be active learners to create active learners.

As instructors engage in ongoing learning about their course topics online, by searching for up-to-date articles and reading related blog posts, we will introduce students to the most current resources on our topics.

Reading blog posts and articles online can be an active and interactive experience for students, especially if we expect students to get involved in commenting on posts or searching for their own resources.

Last semester, I posted a link to an article from a favorite blogger as an additional resource for my students in an online course. In doing that, I made an important introduction, pointing the way to an ongoing opportunity for learning. Every student will not enjoy every blog I recommend. However, if I assign reading from a variety of sources, students may find one or two sites that they enjoy and return to, even after the semester is over.

Face it: Who reads textbooks after they complete their degrees? Instructors who introduce students to blogs in their field ensure that they have a vital learning source to reference long after they sell back their textbooks.

Instructors will model expected behaviors.

We can’t expect students to do something we are not willing to do. We need to model the behavior we want to see emulated in our students. If we want and expect students to write blog posts, we will write blog posts. If we want to see students comment on others’ posts, we will comment. If we want students to tweet, we will tweet.

By getting involved ourselves, we can give students a glimpse into the value that active online involvement can bring.

Merely reading online articles gives limited value in content retained. Commenting on posts creates potential for more value. Students can ask questions or and share a contrasting opinion, interacting with and wrestling with content, gaining insights and new ideas.

Students who consistently interact with bloggers may become part of a supportive community of learners, with important relationships that extend beyond online interaction.

By writing blog posts, students can clarify their own ideas and improve their writing skills.

Join the conversation!

What are some other benefits of using online resources?

This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is reposted with permission.