Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Blogs in education part 2

Okay. Onwards in my quest to find examples of using blogs for learning and teaching. I’m particularly after straight forward examples of their use for which I can then summarise and pass on to those of you who are interested.

Stuart Glogoff’s article ‘Instructional Blogging: Promoting Interactivity, Student-Centered Learning, and Peer Input’ (Web Link, as mentioned in an earlier post provides a range of examples. In particular he uses blogs to encourage guided discovery and knowledge construction. In one of his modules, for example, he asks students to do additional reading on specific topics while referring back to the course materials. After this exploration, the students synthesized their views through blogging in which they presented what they had learned as applied to real-world situations. Commenting by other students was actively encouraged since, as Stuart recognizes, this encourages collaboration - the students are working together to build knowledge. As Stuart observes, they are engaging in cognitive scaffolding through which they revisit the learning space, build upon prior knowledge, think about what they have learned, and drill deeper for more information.

Often individual student blogs are usually the main focus of these articles. However it’s worth realizing the power of the class blog when used in association with personal blogs. Class blogs can be used to post summaries, (BTW class blogs are available on the module website within StudyNet). For instance students could be required to summarise their entries on their personal blog into one blog entry for the class blog. Or as Stuart notes the class blog can be used to supplement the blogging exercise in which the tutor provides additional information such as summaries of important classroom discussions, reinforce the sessions key learning’s, and clarify points that students had struggled to understand. In either case you should take care to make full use of the tagging facilities when using the class blog as this helps to add some order to the entries made there. For example you could categorize particular entries left by yourself (‘assignment’, ‘’new topic’ etc.) or encourage the students to add tags relating to the subject of their entries.

Finally blogs in themselves may only be part of a bigger picture. Christian Dalsgaard’s article, ‘Social software: E-learning beyond learning management systems’ (Web Link), describes as to how he uses blogs to direct students towards problem solving. In this context the blogs are tools with which the student can use to solve problems on their own and in collaboration with others students. He further stresses that, and this is something I often talk about, blogs should not be used on their own. Any activity which by it’s nature is problem-based and requires collaborative effort needs tools which support construction, presentation, reflection, collaboration. So we’re talking about personal blogs being used in association with forums, wikis, class blogs etc. He even goes so far as to identify the need for tools for finding people and other resources of relevance to their problem – basically social networking elements which again is an issue close to my heart and the subject of an earlier blog entry relating to the future evolution of socially based MLEs. And the result? We have ‘An open-ended learning environment provides students with multiple possibilities for activities.’

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