Blogging – a useful learning tool?
Since I posted a page which had tips on how to get blogging started in school blogging seems to be increasing in popularity, certainly within the primary schools I work in we have teachers, and pupils, blogging for all sorts of reasons.
More and more research is available on the subject asking about the quality of learning. Researchers seem to be interested in the activities which takes place whilst blogging, and in the collaborative element.
Consider this, from a recent paper in the excellent International Journal of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning ( Alterman & Larusson 2012) –
At one level, blogging is an activity composed of writing, reading, and commenting, and at a second level, the students share their thoughts in their own voices. At a third level, over the course of the semester, the student posts and commentary form a commons of information that can be mined later in the semester for other kinds of learning activities. Knowledge creation, distribution, and accumulation are analyzed in terms of student participation at both the level of individual events and from the perspective of an ongoing community
It's worth pointing out that the case study was looking at adult learners who were expected to blog twice a week – however elements can be applied to primary schools. For example comments, and how important it is for learners to give effective comments (feedback) – something we regualrly model to our pupils.
Then there is this article by Tse et al in 2010 – they were interested in how blogging can support children who were learning another language, and summarize why others have been very positive about the efffects of blogging:
Chen and Zhang (2003) found that encouraging blogging (a) allows teachers and student to share information and ideas and (b) lets others comment or respond to their postings. Such feedback encourages writers to think about how they are expressing themselves, and prompts bloggers to amend and update blogs. Such blog interactions not only encourage students to read and write, they also stimulate thinking. Wu and Chen (2006) found that blogging helps to boost the confidence of computer users to learn independently, to share experiences and ideas through blogs and to contribute, if only in tiny ways, to the construction of knowledge.
They point out several postive outcomes for the learning of Chinese and English in their paper, such as the pupils independently seeking out English language sites, the development of different language for different social situations and the manner in which pupils who accessed the English language blogs displayed superior English reading performance. The recommendations from the authors include the very relevant fact that pupils were accessing these sites whether or not we used them in school, so it made social and educational sense to use them, and to curate and identify useful material for the pupils.
Duffy (2008) identified uses of blogs in the classroom from their paper:
- promote critical and analytical thinking;
- promote creative, intuitive and associational thinking;
- promote analogical thinking;
- potential for increased access and exposure to quality information;
- combination of solitary and social interaction
Within a personal academic perspective a blog can support;
- reflection on teaching experiences;
- resources and methodologies for teaching;
- ramblings regarding professional challenges and teaching tips for other academics, and
- illustration of specific technology-related tips for other colleague.
Within an organizational perspective a blog can support;
- a common online presence for unit-related information such as calendars, events, assignments and resources, and an
- online area for students to post contact details and queries relating to assessment
Within a pedagogical perspective a blog can support;
- comments based on content, literature readings and student responses;
- a collaborative space for students to act as reviewers for course-related materials;
- images and reflections related to industry placement;
- an online gallery space for review of works, writings, etc., in progress, making use especially of the commenting feature;
- teachers encouraging reactions, reflections and ideas by commenting on their students' blogs, and
- the development of a student portfolio of work
How many of these do you recognise. How many can we use within our schools? And how effective are they? As is mentioned by several authors, we are waiting for the longitundinal data, but the research is beginning to show the uses and the positive outcomes.
As usual I would love to hear of any brilliant examples – I will be updating my own advice to schools soon.
Duffy, P (2008) Engaging the YouTube Google-Eyed Generation: Strategies for Using Web 2.0 in Teaching and Learning – The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong – Electronic Journal of e-learning.
Richard, R & Larusson, J A (2013) Participation and common knowledge in a case study of student blogging International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning June 2013, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 149-187
Tse, S. K., Yuen, A. H. K., Loh, E. K. Y., Lam, J. W. I. & Ng, R. H. W. (2010). The impact of blogging on Hong Kong primary school students' bilingual reading literacy. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(2), 164-179. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet26/tse.html