Student Bloggers OutFront

Your students text it, tweet it, facebook it and they are so savvy with a range of social media and motivated to communicate using them. So take advantage of their comfort zone with the social media to extend discussions outside the classroom space. Blogs have been envisioned as a space where discourse can occur between learners, between learners and instructors, as well as between learners and the larger internet community. In their review of studies which examined the effects of blogs in higher education settings, Sim and Hew (2010) found that blogs are used by students or instructors in various ways:
  1. A learning journal or knowledge log where students collect, analyze and synthesize information about a specific topic of interest.
  2. Personal journals for recording life and academic experiences, thoughts, and feelings
  3. Communication platform to promote interaction with other people such as the instructor and classmates.
  4. An assessment tool including use of a blog for peer assessment activities.
  5. A task management tool (digital drop box for assignments; project management).

The authors also summarized the effectiveness of blogs across the 24 studies they reviewed. The data about the effects of blogs on academic performance a was derived primarily from self-reports (questionnaires, interviews, blog content). Overall, blogs contribute to student learning in various ways as they provided:

1. An organized space and a medium for their reflective thinking and writing
2. Documentation of their learning upon which to reflect on more effectively
3. Stimulation for student interaction
4. A knowledge log for summarizing, organizing, and reflecting on course topics
5. Opportunities for deep processing (argumentation, creative and critical thinking)

As an example of the use of blogging as a component of a course Chrisopher Long, Associate Dean in the Liberal Arts, uses the Penn State blog platform to extend the conversation beyond the classroom by using the blog as a platfor for learning in which undergraduate students, graduate students but also experts in the field participate in the discussions.  Chris Long explains in the video titled The Pedagogy of Blogging the philosophy behind incorporating blogging in a course.

Since blogs are an emerging learning and assessment tool in higher education instructors are searching for ways to evaluate their students’ blog activity. If you are concerned or already hit with the eternal student question “How are you grading this?” click on this ProfHacker blog post or share any assessment tools (e.g., rubrics). Also, you can access the rubric that I have modified and plan to use for students’ for grading students’ comments particularly their reading reactions on this blog.

Sim, J. W. S. & Hew, K. F. (2010) The use of weblogs in higher education settings: A review of empirical research. Educational Research Review, 5, 151-163.

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