College is a time when students are given the opportunity to learn more about the world around them. While attending classes and participating in various service-learning activities, students are exposed to diverse environments and are forced to interact with people who come from different background. It is during their college career that students begin to develop their own sense of identity and take position in public policies as different social issues are brought to their attention.
When I was a freshman, I admit that I paid little to no attention to social issues and problems that were happening around me. I was ignorant about the situations that others had to experience and was selfish to not take any actions to help solve the problems. However, as I learn more about the power relations among institutions, corporate systems, and social structures, I began to realize how many people were oppressed by higher authority and the privileged. My freshman writing class, human relations, and some introductory courses in journalism were the springboard in my awakening to knowing that I could play a role to stop institutionalized oppression.
As an instructor, I feel strongly about opening my students’ eyes to the inequality and injustice cases that are happening around them. I want to take advantage of the technologies available around us to introduce them to ways they could contribute to making their society a better place for all. Among the means of public writing, blogs are a good tool that enables students to fight for social justice.
Using blogs to curate and inquire information
We live in a world of opinions. Using blogs, students can work in groups to investigate and collect information that they decide are credible and accurate in a particular social issue. Students may start reading about the issue from other blogs and websites where they could get a better idea of the current situation. As bloggers, they may immerse themselves into the bloggers community and get connect with other bloggers. Students can drop by at news aggregating sites and news blogs to comment on the reported issues and reflect on the topic via reflective writing in their own blogs. They may also collect different viewpoints and analyze them rhetorically. Student blogs thence become a space where they meet and grapple with opposing opinions and make an informed judgment about an issue they care about.
Using blogs to create awareness
Moving beyond the reader’s level, students can strive to create public awareness on the issue they’re exploring. They may use the information they have collected from various sources to make an argument about why some actions need to be taken immediately. Using blogs as a platform for advocacy, students can call the public’s attention to unveiled injustice and promote equality. To take an even bigger step forward, students can ask the public to join as advocates in a certain issue and participant in shaking up the social norm.
Using blogs to promote democratic citizenship
As the culture of social-sharing continues to be amplified through social networking media, students can use blogs as their foundation in advocacy to encourage community building and accumulating collective knowledge. In their campaigns, students can inter-link social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc., to stimulate more conversations around the issue. For instance, students may use blogs to announce an event, whereby the details of the events are also set up on Facebook event page and could be shared among millions of users. In collaboration with a nonprofit or civic organization, students can learn more about democracy and how to instill it in their everyday lives.
Though new social media (such as microblogging trends on Twitter and Facebook) are slowly threatening the existence of blogs today, many individuals and organizations have taken blogs to different levels where blogs serve as community organizers — something that’s beyond their original intention for journaling or vain self-publications.