Online Journals

Journal Writing Online

A picture of a laptop with pad, paper and cup of coffee on a tabletop.

A journal is an informal piece of writing in which you record your thoughts, observations, experiences, and/or feelings. The idea of journal writing is to record those thoughtsthey don’t need to be written “correctly” or “eloquently”they just need to be written down! In many college courses, you’ll be asked to keep online journals. An online journal is just like a regular journal that your journal is often an informal response to readings or experiences and observations. However, in an online journal, you’ll be required to present your thoughts in an electronic format. Sometimes, your professors will ask you to have these journals develop into a personal blog, which will be discussed further in the pages that follow. However, sometimes, your professors will simply ask you to use a tool within a course management system to collect your journal response.

Whatever the case, here are some things to keep in mind about good online journal writing:

  • Journal writing is a way to “keep in practice.”  You become more at ease with anything the more you do it. Writing informally in a journal is a good way to become more at ease with writing, especially if you’re in a job that doesn’t require a lot of writing.
  • Journal writing is a way to record your thoughts as you read something (often called a “response journal” or a “dialectical notebook”). Because most of your writing assignments for college will ask you to offer your own ideas and analyses, maintaining a response journal to record your thoughts about your readings is a good way of gathering information for upcoming writing assignments.
  • Journal writing is also a way to examine your thought processes as you do something. For example, students studying math might maintain journals to record their thoughts and processes as they work on math problems. Students studying oil painting techniques might maintain journals to identify how and why they’re making certain artistic choices. People who build things, either as part of a construction job or as a hobby, might maintain journals to record the steps in the building process, so they can reproduce them. Managers who manage projects might maintain journals to record why they made certain choices at certain stages, and what happened as a result of those choices. The possibilities are endless.
  • Journal writing is a way to reflect on your experiences. Reflection, especially for adult learners, is an important part of the learning process. Writing down your own thoughts about “how is this related to that?” or “what did I learn?” or “what will I do differently the next time?” will help you with your learning.
  • Sometimes journal responses are meant to be between you and your professor. Sometimes, you will be asked to share online journal responses with the class. You’ll need to keep your audience in mind as you write, as there may be personal experiences and observations you’re willing to share with your professor but not your classmates.

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