Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Blogging used as a tool for study abroad

By Sadie Hughes

Twenty-one Utah State University students will go to Spain in July for a monthlong study abroad at Fundación Universidad de la Rioja. The adviser of the trip, Joshua Thoms, decided to add a new element to the trip – blogging.

The students have been able to prepare for the trip with access to a blog created by Thoms. The blog contains information about each student going on the trip and will be used as a way to practice their Spanish.

“All of the students going got an email with a questionnaire about what music we like, why we’re excited for the study abroad, our hobbies and stuff about our family,” said Brooklyn Baldwin, a student going on the trip. “I can stalk people and get to know them before the trip.”

Thoms explained that one student going on the study abroad lives in California and is taking classes online through USU. Thoms felt the blog has been a way for her to still feel connected to the group.

“Some students were hesitant upfront because they didn’t know anyone else going,” Thoms said. “I thought the blog would be a good way for them to get to know people.”

Each student will be required to attend the two classes they'll be enrolled in Monday through Friday and will be housed with host families. Thoms said spare time can be spent exploring the area and learning more about the Spanish culture.

Students will also publish posts on the blog during their study abroad about what they are learning and experiencing. The posts will be typed in English and Spanish.

“I will be putting the students into groups of three, so each group will be in charge of seven blog posts about cultural aspects they see during the trip,” Thoms said. “I want it to get students thinking about what they’re seeing and experiencing.”

Thoms also said it will be fun for family members of the students to look on the blog and see what is going on.

“It’s a way to document the students’ development and allow them to reflect on their study abroad experience,” Thoms said.

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