It’s official, our Fall 2007 SIT Study Abroad blog has it’s first student blogger signed on for when our programs start in September! We weren’t sure whether the project would appeal to our students, nor if they’d want to participate in a blog owned by World Learning vs. a personal blog. Some are doing both. However, the unanimous response from the students we chose was “Yes, of course! I’m honored!” Well, we’re honored to have them too. So it’s a win-win for everyone.
I received the signed waiver last night (via a photograph that was emailed from Brazil – smart kids!) and sent out the formal Typepad.com invitation soon after. You may wonder what the waiver is all about, or you may also ask why we haven’t taken a blood sample and an oath over a bible saying there will be no inappropriate material written over the course of the semester. I think some of our staff would have preferred that method, or that we’d have avoided blogging altogether, but maybe in my own young naivety, I’m trying to give our students the benefit of the doubt.
The waiver just suggests the type of content we’re looking for (citizen journalism vs. “my study abroad friends and I partied all last night and found the cheapest bazaar to buy liquor) and gives us permission to re-use content and photographs on our website and for future program marketing materials. Overall we’re just hoping that the students are inspired enough by their experience to write original content about their impressions of the new country, their experiences in class, in the city, and during their homestays. I know that when I’ve studied and lived overseas, there wasn’t a shortage of new things to write about – over time they just came pouring out of the woodwork, and it was hard trying to keep up with them. Students from Semester at Sea (where I’m an alum) have had no trouble finding lots of very interesting things to write about over the past several years on hundreds of independent student blogs, and we’ve found several wonderful independent student blogs of participants in our programs.
I’m on pins and needles waiting for our first post. Hopefully soon, and then that little bit of nervousness about the project will go away and we can really begin to leverage the power of blogging and Web 2.0 in the area of study abroad.