Blogs in Education

 

A Blog is a website that often takes the form of an online personal diary. The word blog is derived from web log and blogging subjects are as varied as human interests. (e.g. Blogger). A blog site is typically maintained by one individual but you can add other roles/users to your site who can contribute to your site.  Blogs typically have post entries which can be commentary, express ideas and thoughts. Each post entry is dated and is ordered in reverse chronological order with the most recent post at the top. Usually others can comment on post entries. Stephen Downs provides a great piece on blogs in education.  There are all sorts of blog topics available over the web for personal (travel diaries, hobbies etc,) to work-related (team discussion) and for educational use.  To add depth to the blop entries pages you can add audio, video, images, files and external links. You can also add further pages to your blog site like wiki pages.

Select an option below:

Setting up a Blog in Blackboard
Setting up a Blog with WordPress (DMU Commons)
Setting up Blog in Campus Pack

Setting up a Blog

You can set up a blog in Blackboard for your course module for all users to participate, you can also have group blogs for students so that only those members in that group can access their wiki, yourself as tutor will be needed to added so athat you can monitor activities. More on Blackbaord Blogs are available here.

We also have our own DMU commons, or a space for using, sharing and producing, which users can theme and extend using widgets. You can use your own space on the Commons for blogging or as a website. You can make it public or private, or share it with a few colleagues. You can see what we are thinking about here: http://our.dmu.ac.uk/about/

The Commons runs on the WordPres platform and is supported by the Web Services Team in ITMS.

Blogs can also be hosted by third-party providers on the Web for example blogger.com. Some of these service providers are free, some charge and may carry adverts. Its important that if you go for any of these sites tthat you familiarise yourself with the Non-DMU tools information which will provide gudiance.

Use of Blogs

Blogs can provide an online writing space for students to reflect on their learning and reinforce learning. It allows the student to develop their ideas in a ‘space’ which can be logged,  amended and edited as they feel necessary. If the blogging space is private between the tutor and student, they can provide a good forum for feedback. An offset benefit is the practice and development of writing skills which can be improved.

students perceived the blogs to support their learning by providing them different viewpoints from both the instructor and their peers. Blogs also provided them a space where reflection and commentaries could be organized. Over time, the researchers conjectured that this allowed learners to observe their own changes and growth in thinking and as a result, allowed them to better reflect on their own learning. ” The use of weblogs in higher education settings: A review of empirical research by Jeffrey Wee Sing Sim  and Khe Foon Hew (see below)

Group blogs provide a wider audience and collborative space for students to share and develop knowledge and understanding.

Course blogs allow further sharing as it allows student to post comments and has a larger audience.

Blogs may appeal more because you can write short or longer posts.

The following full article ‘The use of weblogs in higher education settings: A review of empirical research by Jeffrey Wee Sing Sim  and Khe Foon Hew summarises some interesting findings collated from other studies and draw out four our practical implications from their findings to help promote the use of blogs,  see below (this is just a guide and no means prescriptive as you may have your own ideas!

  1. First, to minimize the possibility of students feeling discomfort about providing peer comments or feedback, educators may consider conducting ice-breaking activities that would allow students to first acquaint themselves with their peers before the start of the blogging activity. It would be best for such ice-breaking activities to be conducted in a face-to-face setting.
  2. “Privacy –  educators could consider the options of blogging” –  here one would need to consider whether you want a private blog between you and the student for feedback for example or whether you want a group blog or a course blog which can be open to the course memberr. The type of blog that you decide on will depend on the task activity and its life span. You may want the private blog to be ongoing throughout the module.
  3. Third, educators should implement measures to help students overcome their lack of understanding or unfamiliarity with the technology. For example, providing demonstrations and hands-on practice, as well as guidelines and reference notes on how to blog could increase student confidence with using the technology. With time, participants will gradually gain more confidence and experience in blogging and this could, in turn, lead to more active blogging.
  4. Consider the objectives blogging and why you think students should do this, how can you motivate them?

Some Great advice here on Avoiding the 5 Most Common Mistakes in Using Blogs with Students