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Kim Aling

Blogging in teaching and learning

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Edited by Kim Aling, Tuesday, 9 Apr 2013, 09:30

Web.2.0 has seen the introduction of a new activity, blogging.  These are online journals where individuals can write and publish their thoughts, ideas or research and open them to be read by either a select few of the whole world.  Blogs then invite comment and debate and can be tracked via RSS feeds.  So, can this technology be utilised in a formal teaching and learning context to improve skills, expand knowledge, promote collaboration or form a basis of assessment?

By 2004 the number of blogs post had was claimed to be passed 4 million (Husband as cited in Flatley, 2005, p77).   The literature highlights many benefits for blogging in an educational context.  Goh et al (2010) identify four benefits: the ability to customise and take ownership; safe environment where the blogger can be anonymous; learning through collaboration; encourages introspection and deep thinking.  Blogging also has the potential to improve students writing skills and self expression (Nedeva and Nedev, 2010).  It also helps develop critical thinking and to 'develop articulate critical voices' (Oravec, 2003, p232). 

Oravec (2003) looks at different ways educators can use blogs in learning to achieve these perceived benefits.  Firstly, students can simply post work for feedback and comment.  We have been encouraged to do this on H800 and the benefits have been, for me, a sense of progression and a chance to read ideas of others and check my understanding in the light of their posts.  Secondly, students can exchange hyperlinks.  We have not done this specifically on H800, but we have provided sources of our writing for others to explore. Thirdly, students can be encouraged to subscribe to other blogs outside the group that are specific to their field, eg educational blogs for H800.  Educational blogs we have been encouraged to visit are e4innovation.com and The ed Techie.  Other useful blogs can be found at:

Oravec's (2003) fourth use is to form knowledge communities.  It is argued specifically that 'weblog-based knowledge communities can also form as bloggers link to blogs with similar themes and provide critical commentary.   This is happening naturally with H800 as we have developed a community of practise based around the course content and we all are involved in some aspect of education.

 Kerawalla et al (2008)identify actual behaviours with regards blogging, suggesting there are five main types, resource network building, support network building, self sufficient blogging, anxious self sufficient blogging and blogging avoidance.  Goh et al (2010) investigate blogging behaviour in an Asian context and find four common perceptions of blogging: concerns over offending others and writing in a public space; a pragmatic approach where blogs were not customised due to lack of time; and  a tension between agreeing that collaborative learning is beneficial and a fear of being seen as incompetent.   These studies of students' behaviour and perception suggest that the potential benefits suggested above may not always be achievable and teaching strategies using blogs, as detailed above may not always be successful.

 I have really enjoyed the experience of blogging and of reading others blogs, but can understand how it may be difficult to achieve high participation rates and successful outcomes when integrating it into teaching.  The challenge is to find ways to make it relevant to the student, interesting to do and provide a safe place for students to express themselves. 

References

 

Flatley, M.E (2005), 'Blogging for enhanced teaching and learning', Business Communication Quarterly, 68, 1, pp. 77-80

Goh, J.W.P., Quek, C. J., & Lee, O. K. (2010). An Investigation of Students' Perceptions of Learning Benefits of Weblogs in an East Asian Context: A Rasch Analysis. Educational Technology & Society, 13 (2), 90-101.

 

Kerawalla, L. Minocha, S. Kirkup, G. and Conole, G. (2008) 'Characterising the different blogging behaviours of students on an online distance learning course', Learning, Media and Technology, 33: 1, pp21 - 33

 

Nedeva, V.,  and Nedev, D. (2010) 'A new approach of elearning education using blogging' Universităţii Petrol - Gaze din Ploieşti Vol, LXII pp162-169

Oravev, J., A. (2003) 'Blending by blogging:  Weblogs in blended learning initiatives' Journal of Educational Media, 28:2-3 pp225-233

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