Purpose

To give you an overview of how blogs can be used in the educational setting, and to make you aware of some of the issues involved in using blogs in class.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this workshop, you should be able to
  1. Identify different models of educational blogging
  2. Assess the educational potential of using blogs in your course

Program

  1. What is a blog?
  2. Educational focus
  3. Analysis
  4. Main models
  5. Ideas for practice
  6. Benefits
  7. Assessment and feedback
  8. Considerations
  9. Class plan
  10. Blog and wiki comparision tables
  11. Reflection
  12. Evaluation
  13. Useful links

1. What is a blog?

Check out our page on this wiki and also visit the blog page on the Web 2.0 survival guide

Blog characteristics
Blogs can be on any topic: travel, hobbies, current affairs, pets, astronomy, plants, adult education, family ... anything!
  • A website where a person or a group make regular entries or ‘posts’ on a topic.
  • Posts might include opinion, links, commentary, reflections, discoveries, tips, announcements, or advice.
  • Readers make comments on these posts.
  • Newest material is shown at the top of the blog (i.e., in reverse-chronological order).
  • Posts can include links, photos, video, audio, graphics and other media.
  • Posts are ‘tagged‘ (meaning that authors give them multiple keywords so that they can be retrieved later on) and archived.
  • Blogs are all about the blogger

If you're still not sure, watch a YouTube video on blogs

2. Educational focus

  • Reflection
  • Sharing of opinion, links, discoveries
  • Communication and knowledge-sharing
  • Development and demonstration of understanding
  • Analysis, synthesis, evaluation
  • Presentation and dissemination of information
In pairs, analyse some blogs. Go to the Education Innovators site and explore at least three ANU teachers' sites. Use the table below to help you compare the sites.


Site 1:
Site 2:
Site 3:
How is the site being used in class? Class management? Learning focus? Communication (by whom and for what purpose)?



Who is doing the blogging? Teacher only? Or students, too?



What are posts and comments about? What sorts of information is included?



Are posts focused?



Are the students engaged? Why/why not?



What is the quality of the writing, thinking, critique, reflection, etc., like?



What is the use of media (i.e., videos, images, slideshows, etc.) like?



Is the site easy to navigate? Any problems?



What sort of 'static' information is included on the site? i.e., What appears on regular 'pages'?



Why do you think the teacher has decided to use a blog in class?




4. Main models

  1. Class management (teacher-only site): communication tool, announcements, links, lecture notes and powerpoints, advice to students, resource repository.
  2. Educational, teacher as blogger: Teacher writes posts and students comment on what the teacher has blogged.
  3. Educational, whole-of-class as bloggers: Anyone in the class can write posts and comment.

5. Ideas for practice


  • Post or comment on course topics or themes
  • Use as communication or class management tool
  • Discuss the 'learning journey'
  • Discuss class, workshop or tutorial activities
  • Create e-portfolios and writing journals
  • Post prompts for reflection
  • Add videos, graphs, images, links to articles, etc. for discussion
  • Ask a guest blogger or content expert to blog occasionally

NOTE:
  • Blogs are their own beastie: don’t use them as email lists, discussion groups, or listservs.
  • Don’t use blogs to get students to post mini-essays or the like. If you want students to write a mini-essay, then ask them to write a mini-essay.

6. Benefits

Intellectual
  • Writing, reading
  • Integration of scholarly opinion, research, diverse perspectives
  • Track developments in thinking
  • Reflection and critique
  • Creativity and sharing
  • Higher-order thinking especially analysis and evaluation
  • Engagement with key course concepts and themes

Motivation
  • Control and ownership
  • Organisation of thoughts, notes, info
  • Students try harder when others can see their work
  • Easy self-publication
  • Wider audience
  • More authentic
  • Common goal
  • Personally valuable

Communication
  • Community and socialisation
  • Connection with experts
  • Engagement with new audiences
  • Easy sharing of ideas
  • Appropriate online behaviour

Management
  • Ease of feedback
  • Searching via tags, archives and categories
  • Track student progress
  • Communication tool
  • Easy assignment submission
  • Formative and summative feedback
  • Accessible anywhere
  • Easy to use
  • Notifications of changes (RSS and email)

7. Assessment and feedback


What are you assessing?
Some suggestions
  • Ideas, comprehension, reflection, critique
  • Intellectual engagement
  • Focus
  • Relevant information sharing
  • Development of thinking over time
  • Links to course themes
  • Relevance of post topics
  • Usefulness of comments
  • Frequency of posts
  • Quality of writing
  • Frequency and quality of comments/visits
  • Relevance of media or links

Good assessment practice
  • Give clear assessment instructions and guidelines
  • Set clear goals
  • Set concrete tasks
  • Provide examples
  • Develop and distribute assessment rubrics
  • Make regular comments on student posts
  • Allow room for questions/advice
  • Set commenting/posting rules, if necessary

8. Considerations

  1. Time and tech factors: assistance, moderation, implementation
  2. Audience, expectations
  3. Trust and appropriate online behaviour
  4. Privacy
  5. Legal compliance
  6. Mitigating liability
  7. Copyright and Intellectual Property
  8. Institutional policy and guidelines


9. Class plan

Make sure you have one!


10. Blog and wiki comparison tables

General
BLOGS: PROCESS
WIKIS: PRODUCT
Personal
Public
Static text
Creation of document
Long scrolls
Relationship of pages
Monological
Topic/content focus
Temporal
Atemporal
Show change in thinking
Show change in writing
One-to-many
Many-to-many
Knowledge at top
Knowledge is webbed
Immediate, in the moment
Mediated
Benefits
BLOGS
WIKIS
Track developments in thinking
Collaboration, teamwork
Reflection
Easy sharing of info
Control and ownership
Synthesis of research, scholarship
Allows for creativity
Construction of knowledge up front
Writing skills, integration of diverse perspectives, communication, appropriate online behaviour, motivation, engagement in the community, higher order thinking, audience, students try harder
Writing skills, integration of diverse perspectives, communication, appropriate online behaviour, motivation, engagement in the community, higher order thinking, audience, students try harder

... by students
BLOGS
WIKIS
Individual student blogs
Group wikis
Reflection on course content
Sharing info, resources, links
Learning journey
Resource collections
Reflective journal
FAQ
Writing journal
Synthesis of research
E-portfolio
Pages on course topics

... by you for students
BLOGS
WIKIS
Prompts for reflection
Resource collections
Synthesis of class topics
Glossaries
Further discussion of class topics
Advice pages (grammar, study skills)
Group blog: owned by you, but students can comment and post
Demonstration videos, graphs, equations, articles, labs
News/RSS feeds
News/RSS feeds



Considerations
BLOGS
WIKIS
Why a blog?
Why a wiki?
Privacy options? Comment rules?
Who owns what? Provenance, collegiality, group work problems
Time and tech factors: assistance? moderating? implementation?
Time and tech factors: assistance? moderating? implementation?
Purpose, objectives, audience, expectations
Purpose, objectives, audience, expectations
Concepts, connections and engagement
Concepts, connections and engagement
Assessment, instructions, guidelines
Assessment, instructions, guidelines
Trust, personally valuable, common goal
Trust, personally valuable, common goal

Assessment
BLOGS
WIKIS
Encourage student feedback on posts
Encourage editing of pages
Make regular comments
Visit the wiki/s regularly
Concrete tasks, lots of links
Concrete tasks, lots of links
Develop and distribute rubric/s; provide examples
Develop and distribute rubric/s; provide examples
Provide a space for questions and advice
Provide a space for questions and advice
Development of thinking
Content development
Links
Data gathering
Frequency/quality of posts
Frequency/quality of page edits
Comments/visits
Discussion topics
Reflection, critique
Analysis, evaluation
Content: ideas, comprehension, intellectual engagement, focus, info sharing
Content: ideas, comprehension, intellectual engagement, focus, info sharing
Pages: writing quality; relevance of media, links
Pages: writing quality; relevance of media, links
Design: organisation, appearance, enhancements, management
Design: organisation, appearance, enhancements, management

11. Reflection

What do you think or know now? What is still confusing? What do you need to follow up on?

12. Evaluation

Helpful or not? Let us know your thoughts.

13. Useful links

Web 2.0 survival guide
Blog basics
YouTube vide on blogs