31 October, 2008




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30 October, 2008


Promoting Interactivity, Student-Centered Learning, and Peer Input
As the Web has afforded new ways to network people dispersed across a broad, invisible system of bytes and nodes, educators have learned a great deal about the ability of the Web to nurture, foster, and enable community. Indeed, the ubiquity of the Web is matched by the reassuring anonymity that it affords. In an online environment, people share personal and family experiences, ask for advice regarding intimate matters, and initiate dialogues with total strangers (Glogoff 2001). Such activities encourage closeness and immediacy in online relationships (Powazek 2002). In this kind of environment, appropriate tools empower participants to say what they think and to receive feedback quickly from others.
In an instructional environment, online communication tools such as e-mail, listservs, chat rooms, and instant messaging cultivate personal bonds with and among students and promote extended dialogue about important topics. In comparison to these communication tools, however, instructional blogging offers additional opportunities to engage students and extend the virtual classroom. Blogging can complement community building in hybrid and distance courses and can frame personal places in virtual spaces. As an adjunct professor teaching hybrid and online courses on information technology at the University of Arizona (UA), I have made extensive use of online technologies and have come to regard blogging as an exceptional learning tool that has enormous potential in the virtual classroom. In what follows I provide an overview of my instructional use of blogging technology, linking specific practices with key concepts in pedagogical theory and noting the adjustments I made in response to student feedback. By illustrating the value of blogging in a specific educational setting, this article provides worthwhile suggestions for instructors who are considering such technology for their own courses.
Blogging as an E-learning Tool
Instructional blogging operates as a knowledge-centered instructional tool. In this model the instructor involves students in research activities, engages them in discussions with practitioners, and leads them through developmental concepts of the discipline's knowledge domain.
I found that instructional blogging related well to knowledge-centered instruction in Decision Making for Information Professionals (IRLS613), a course that I taught in 2003 and 2004 for the UA's School of Information Resources and Library Science. The course content included modules such as technological evolution, information architecture, strategic planning, learning objects, content management, and usability. In both years I maintained a primary course weblog, but in 2004 I also provided each student with a predesigned, individual weblog at the beginning of the course. Prior technical experience with blogging was not a course requirement, and students were given instructions on how to maintain their weblogs. For course assignments I directed students to content-specific Web sites on which they researched a topic. After integrating this research with their own ideas and solutions, students published their work on their blogs. In some content modules, such as strategic planning and request for proposals, students and guest practitioners interacted by exchanging ideas and asking questions of each other. The guest practitioners also commented on student blog entries. By the end of the course, students had analyzed the deeper structures necessary to make sound decisions when evaluating information systems for use or purchase.
Learner-centered blogging acknowledges the important attributes of learners as individuals and as a group. As an instructor, I have used blogging as a learner-centered instructional tool by giving positive feedback to students on their comments in blog entries and by adding comments to discussion threads involving two or more students (Exhibit 1). Given that many online students miss the face-to-face contact realized in a traditional classroom, blogging offers particularly useful opportunities for learner-centered feedback and dialogue.
Such opportunities also support community-centered instruction by utilizing the critical social component of learning central to Vygotsky's (1978) notions of social cognition; Lipman's (1991) concept of a community of inquiry; and Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder's (2002) ideas of community practice. Blogging expresses the importance of social and

peer interaction as foci of the learning community. Instructors of courses rooted in a knowledge discipline can use blogs to lead students through the foundations of that discipline in order to contextualize real-world experiences. Because they are able to advance their own perspectives and experiences, students make an investment in what they post to their blogs (Exhibit 2). Class members further discussion by reading and appraising other students' blogs, commenting on the value or relevance of blog entries to their own experiences, and suggesting additional resources. Since blogs are presented on
Web pages, embedded links are appropriate and convenient, and they make it easy for other students to access new resources quickly. Although instructors should be cognizant of the delicate balance between the synchronicity of time and place on the one hand, and the need to keep discussions focused on the topic on the other hand, blogging provides opportunities for students to interact in meaningful ways that extend instruction in the virtual classroom.
Receptive Learning, Directive Learning, and Guided Discovery
Instructional blogging also utilizes the three instructional techniques described by Clark and Mayer (2003). These authors advocate supporting student knowledge acquisition through: (a) receptive techniques, which involve building instructional modules that open avenues to a great deal of information while limiting application and experimentation; (b) directive techniques, which emphasize frequent responses from learners with immediate feedback from the instructor; and (c) guided discovery techniques, which place the instructor in the role of the expert leading students toward identifying appropriate conceptual processes and solving real-life challenges.
As a receptive learning tool, blogging can be used to frame assignments within a theoretical context that encourages students to acquire information and report what they have learned. During the 2003 fall semester, for example, J. David Betts, a colleague in the UA College of Education, integrated blogging technology into a graduate-level course that studied the role of language in reading and writing processes. Betts utilized blogs for class assignments, reflections, and journal entries as a way to extend discussion and foster collaboration in the days between weekly meetings (Exhibit 3). Similarly, I have used blogging as a receptive learning tool through assignments that require students to acquire, report, and evaluate additional information within a given theoretical context (Exhibit 4).
Because of their public nature, blogs can be used as a directive learning tool to provide students with equal access to important information, to expand students' understanding of specific issues, and to direct students to explore additional material. While teaching freshman composition at the UA during the 2003 fall semester and the 2005 spring semester, for example, William Endres supplemented the blogs he created for each student with a separate blog in which he posted summaries of important classroom discussions, reinforced the week's key learnings, and clarified points that students had struggled to understand fully (Exhibit 5).
Blogs also lend themselves extremely well to the response strengthening inherent in directive learning because the comments form attached to each entry allows instructors to add content and additional prompts. For example, I posted the following comment to one student's blog entry on disruptive technology: "I agree with the idea that file sharing can be seen as a disruptive technology. At the heart of the disruption you are writing about, IMO [in my opinion], is P2P. Are you familiar with it?" After reviewing my comments, the student revisited the topic, found additional information, and posted an insightful entry regarding peer-to-peer file sharing and university policy changes. Indeed, most of my assignments lend themselves to response strengthening because I use the comments form to give direct, positive feedback. Because blog pages are public, I use e-mail and face-to-face exchanges to discuss critical comments with students.
Blogs can also be used to encourage guided discovery and knowledge construction. In a module on information architecture, for example, students in my course read from the professional literature and visited Web sites that provided tutorials and other content. After this exploration, students completed an assignment that asked them to synthesize what they had learned and to describe those concepts in a real-world situation (Exhibit 6). This use of the guided discovery technique also encourages collaboration because students work together to build knowledge. Using cognitive scaffolding, a basic tenet of constructivism, students revisit the learning space, build upon prior knowledge, think about what they have learned, and drill deeper for more information (Richards 2001). Finally, the opportunities for each student to post substantive comments to other students' blog entries add an additional tier of interactivity and social interaction. In online courses where communication remains largely text-based, such opportunities to enhance

community can make significant contributions to student learning.
Student Responses to Blogging
Although Brookfield and Preskill (1999) have advocated useful iterative techniques that promote more meaningful classroom discussions, successfully promoting discussion in virtual courses can be challenging because virtual students have a tendency to lurk rather than participate. Moreover, Anderson (2004) argues that it is easier for instructors of online courses to be exclusive and allow nonparticipants to lurk without active community involvement.
My own experience teaching hybrid courses between 1994 and 2000 and teaching IRLS613 as a fully online course in 2003 and 2004 confirms this problem. During the hybrid years, I was pleased to note that all but the most introverted students fully participated in online forum discussions. In fact, one of the most impressive aspects of the 2000 hybrid class was that students regularly took their assignments beyond the basic requirements. Typically, they shared additional resources with classmates, and some even challenged others to build upon what they reported. When the class became fully online in 2003, I added a blog to provide a common space for students to explore individual findings related to one of the course's main themes: recognizing and explaining real-world uses for new technologies. I asked students to share new insights with each other, read each other's entries, and use the comments feature to add new content. Those students who found the course's subject matter engaging posted entries regularly, whereas others refused to do so, even though posting was a course requirement. No matter what incentives I tried, I could not lure the lurkers into participating in meaningful ways in the discussion forums or the blogs. The primary difference between the hybrid and fully online courses was the absence of face-to-face discussions in the latter. Without such discussions, I could not call on students and lead them through a knowledge construction process that would result in their ownership of an idea.
On an anonymous assessment survey at the end of the 2003 class, one student commented that he/she enjoyed reading about new subjects and doing research for postings to the topical blog. The student lamented, however, that in general "the posts were few and far between. None of my posts were ever commented on, which was a little disappointing." With this reaction in mind, at the beginning of my 2004 class I surveyed students informally about their previous experiences with blogging. Several people had similar stories of disappointment. They reported that, in a different course taken the previous semester, the professor had asked them to blog but did not require them to post entries. Nor did he comment on student entries. Because of this lack of attention, the students abandoned their blogs after the first week.
In order to increase the effectiveness of blogging in my 2004 course, I created a blog for each student and developed assignments that required students to post entries. I also required students to read each other's entries and make three substantive comments per week. These policies ensured participation, but they also were crucial to validating students' contributions. In this course, I observed more participation than in the previous year's class, and students reported that blogging promoted a greater sense of community (Exhibit 7). Overall, student satisfaction with blogging in the 2004 course was high (Exhibit 8), and students reported that the peer-review capabilities of blogging contributed to better understandings of course content (Exhibit 9).
As a valuable e-learning tool, blogging can be used in a number of ways to engage students in discussion, exploration, and discovery. It is appropriate for both hybrid and fully online courses. As my institution's primary support person for instructional blogging, as well as an instructor who has integrated blogging into his teaching, I can attest that it works best when integrated into a coherent pedagogical approach, vested in an appropriate educational theory, and updated regularly by participants. As more instructors use blogging, we will have the opportunity to assess new applications for this emerging instructional technology. It will be interesting, for example, to learn whether blogs promote virtual communities after a course has ended and grades have been assigned. More importantly, extending contact between instructors and enthusiastic students through a topical blog could provide a practical way to mentor and encourage exceptional students to continue their studies in relevant fields.

Anderson, T. 2004. A second look at learning sciences, classrooms, and technology: Issues of implementation: Making it work in the real world. In Learner-centered theory and practice in distance education: Cases from higher education, ed. T. M. Duffy and J. R. Kirkley, 235-249. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
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Brookfield, S. D., and S. Preskill. 1999. Discussion as a way of teaching: Tools and techniques for democratic classrooms. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Clark, R. C., and R. E. Mayer. 2003. e-Learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
Glogoff, S. 2001. Virtual connections: Community bonding on the net. First Monday 6 (3). http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue6_3/glogoff/index.html (accessed June 1, 2005).
Lipman, M. 1991. Thinking in education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Powazek, D. M. 2002. Design for community: The art of connecting real people in virtual places. Indianapolis: New Riders.
Richards, S. L. F. 2001. The interactive syllabus: A resource-based, constructivist approach to learning. Paper presented at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference, Indianapolis, IN, October.
http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EDU011 08.pdf (accessed June 1, 2005).
Vygotsky, L. S. 1978. Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Wenger, E., R. McDermott, and W. M. Snyder. 2002. Cultivating communities of practice. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
This article may be reproduced and distributed for educational purposes if the following attribution is included in the document:
Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Glogoff, S. 2005. Instructional blogging: Promoting interactivity, student-centered learning, and peer input. Innovate 1 (5). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=1 26 (accessed May 29, 2005). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.


Annotated Bibliography

Edublogging, or blogging for educational purposes, is a relatively new concept, and the realized potential of this tool is still very much in its infancy. More and more, educators are feeling pressure to be accountable for their education initiatives and to also demonstrate that these actions are having a positive impact on student learning. Educators are exploring new ways to engage students in the learning process and allow them to acquire higher order thinking skills.
Blogging, which is one of the elements of narrowcasting, is one option that is being investigated. Video blogs and podcasts - the two other components that make up narrowcasting - are also examples of alternatives that may be adopted by educators in the future. Young people believe that anytime, anywhere access is essential (Mobile Pipeline, 2005), and the use of mobile technologies to enhance the edublogging experience is also being considered (Trafford, 2005). However, the move to adopt new technologies in an educational setting is not going to happen overnight.
The educational community has been slow to adopt the use of technologies, such as the Internet (Hitlin & Rainie, 2005), and blogging is no exception. This is quickly changing, though. Students, particularly those born between 1980 and 1994, are coming into the classroom with a certain set of technological skills (Carlson, 2005). Educators are investigating the use of blogs as a way to connect to this new generation, which is sometimes referred to as the Millennials (Oblinger, 2003). At this time, a number of educators have seen the possibilities associated with the integration of blogs and blogging activities into the curriculum.
Blogs, by their very nature, support the development of reflective learning skills, foster collaboration, and encourage students to take ownership of their learning. As educators, like Will Richardson and Pam Pritchard, experiment with the technology, the number of innovative applications for teaching and learning will increase (Richardson, 2004). If done correctly, edublogging appears to have the potential to lead to generalizable knowledge by providing opportunities for faculty coaching, student collaboration, and self-reflection (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989). The hope is that edublogging will empower students to assess their own understanding and extend their learning beyond the walls of the classroom.
At the time this bibliography was produced, very little empirical data had been collected and disseminated. Due to the lack of quantitative data currently available, one may question how educators are making the decision to incorporate blogs into their classrooms. Perhaps some are basing their decisions on the works of people like Jerome Bruner and Bent Flyvbjerg. Bruner, one of the primary figures in the cognitive revolution, believes that plausibility rather than verifiability is the key validity issue (1990, p. 44). Flyvbjerg, in his book, Making Social Science Matter (2001), emphasizes the importance of the example and paradigmatic case studies.
The current anecdotal evidence does suggest that edublogging may have the potential to enhance the learning experience in an effective manner. Earlier studies have also indicated that the use of technology in the classroom can be beneficial. For example, Steve Jones and Camille Johnson-Yale found that 67 percent of college faculty reported that email improved their interactions with students (2005, p. 8). However, Austan Goolsbee and Jonathan Guryan, economics professors at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago, conducted a study on E-Rate subsidies and Internet in public schools. They found that the Internet did not have a significant impact on student performance (2006, p. 65). More research is needed to determine the effect edublogging will have on the educational experience and on learning outcomes.
This annotated bibliography is by no means an exhaustive resource. It is, however, an attempt to pull together and examine a corpus of the available literature on the topic of edublogging. Articles that concentrated solely on blogging technologies or that did not consist of substantial information about the concept of edublogging were not included. The articles that are summarized below examine a wide variety of topics including the following: the use of blogs in an educational setting, reactions to the technology by teachers, students, and administrators, issues and concerns surrounding the use of this type of tool, and the potential transformations edublogging may have on student learning.

Armstrong, L., & Berry, M. (2004). Blogs as electronic learning journals. E-jist 7(1). Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://www.usq.edu.au/electpub/e-jist/docs/Vol7_No1/CurrentPractice/Blogs.htm
Learning journals have long been associated with active learning experiences. Blogs adopt the concept of the paper-based learning journal, but the capabilities are enhanced due to the online nature of the format. With blogs, students are able to make their entries publicly available so that others can read and comment on them. This allows the learning to become a shared experience.
The purpose of this article is to examine the possibility of using blogs as learning journals in an online environment. Students who participated in this study used blogs as e-learning journals, and they were observed and interviewed about their experiences. Three different learning contexts were examined, and a total of 11 students were included. The results point out that the "comments" feature was not used. In fact, students did not use the blogs to communicate directly with each other; rather, they seemed satisfied simply displaying their learning for their audience. Because the postings were published instantaneously, students were conscious of the public nature of their entries. The findings concluded that the students considered the blogs to be useful tools designed to help them review and revise their work. This in turn helped them to become better writers and take control of their learning.
Bartlett-Bragg, A. (2003). Blogging to learn. Knowledge Tree. Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://www.flexiblelearning.net.au/knowledgetree/edition04/pdf/Blogging_to_Learn.pdf
Bartlett-Bragg examines the history of blogging and investigates how this tool can be used in an educational environment. The discussion begins by taking a look at blogs in general. This section also outlines Paquet's (2003) five features that make blogs different from other online tools: personal editorship, a hyperlinked posting structure, frequent updates, free public access to the content via the Internet, and archived postings. Next, educational uses of blogs, including group blogs, field notes and journals of professional practice, academic blogs, and learning journals are briefly discussed. The article then goes on to illustrate the five-stage blogging process for students. These stages include establishment, introspection, reflective monologues, reflective dialogue, and knowledge artifact.
Establishment is the stage where students set up their blogs and become familiar with the technology. Introspection allows students to begin reflecting on their own thoughts and experiences. This is in contrast to the thinking associated with traditional journals in that students begin to write for themselves rather than for their teacher. When students get to the reflective monologue stage, they are consciously aware of the experiences and how they relate to their learning. This is often the point when students recognize that they are writing for themselves, and entries become more frequent. At the point of reflective dialogue, class time is not normally allocated for blogging activities, and the efforts often become more self-directed. The shift to this type of responsibility is not easy for everyone, and students often stop blogging at this stage. And finally, students who move into the knowledge artifact stage begin to read and comment on the entries of others. This information is then incorporated into their learning scheme. The article concludes on an optimistic tone, and points out that there is evidence that blogging can be used as an effective educational tool.
Betts, J. D., & Glogoff, S. J. (2004). Instructional models for using weblogs in elearning: A case study from a virtual and hybrid courses. Syllabus. Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://download.101com.com/syllabus/conf/summer2004/PDFs/w01.pdf
Many students today have grown up using technology and often have a different view of learning and information gathering. The University of Arizona began incorporating the use of blogs into their online and hybrid courses (i.e., courses taught face-to-face that include online components). Blogs were not the only online tools used in these courses, but this article focuses specifically on the use of blogs in the two different courses.
The first case that is examined is one involving the hybrid course. Students enrolled in Learning, Reading and Culture (LRC551) were introduced to blogs as a way to experience "New Literacies." Case two involved students in the summer 2003 course, Decision Making for Information Professionals (IRLS613). This was an online course that included 30 students who were geographically dispersed. Survey findings for both courses revealed that the students had very little prior blogging experience but felt that the course blog experience was a positive one. The article concludes by noting items for future consideration. They include making blogs more of an integrated course experience and devising ways to minimize the number of students who simply lurk.
Brandon, B. (2003, May 19). Using RSS and weblogs for e-learning: An overview. The E-learning Developers' Journal. Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://elearning.typepad.com/thelearnedman/files/eLearning_RSS_Weblogs.pdf
Weblogs allow individuals to easily publish anything and make it publicly available with minimal effort. In recent months, the number of blogs discussing educational issues and concerns has escalated. Not only does this article address the use of weblogs in education, but it also acknowledges the importance of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) - an XML format for the description and syndication of information - to e-learning developers.
Several examples of weblog use in e-learning are provided. Common applications of weblogs include communication between educators, communication between educators and learners, and learner to learner communication. A point that is made is that one of the first uses of weblogs in education was for the exchange of "information and ideas that work." Writing and collaboration are also noted as two significant advantages of using blogs in e-learning. In addition to the examples of educational uses of weblogs, this article also describes the various types of weblog software that is available for free or for fee.
Bresia, W. F., & Miller, M. T. (2006). What's it worth? The perceived benefits of instructional blogging. Electronic Journal for the Integration of Technology in Education, 5. Retrieved November 15, 2006, from http://ejite.isu.edu/Volume5/Brescia.pdf
A three-round survey procedure was used to identify characteristics that make blogging an effective tool to support college learning. The 24 "experts" who completed all three rounds of the survey represented 18 different states and 22 different universities. These individuals strongly agreed with seven of the characteristics, which include using the blog as a "knowledge log," taking what is learned in the classroom and presenting it to the public, and leveraging teaching to outside class hours. The article concludes by noting the potential for blogging in educational settings, as well as its challenges.
Brooks, R., Nichols, C., Priebe, S. (2004). Remediation, genre, and motivation: Key concepts for teaching with weblogs. Into the Blogosphere. Retrieved December 17, 2005, from http://blog.lib.umn.edu/blogosphere/remediation_genre.html
The purpose of this article is two-fold. The authors hope to push forward the notion of using blogs in education. Another goal is to validate the hypothesis that a motivated writer is a better writer.
English 110, the first of two required first-year composition courses at North Dakota State University, was selected for study during the fall 2002 semester. Use of the blogs was not assignment driven, and many students exhibited signs of hesitation in the number and types of posts. A wider range of English courses were selected for study during the spring 2003 semester, and students, in general, responded positively. Students completed an initial and an exit survey designed to determine how similar or different the two groups were in their experiences with and in their responses to the blogs. Most students in both groups had no previous blogging experience. Students also reported that they were familiar with the paper version of the genre with many indicating they kept a personal journal, an academic notebook, or note cards. Even though there was no way to benchmark it in this case, the students appeared to find blogging to be a motivating tool. One item of note is that upper level students tend to see the value of blogging, more so than those at the lower levels.
Chen, H. L., Cannon, D., Gabrio, J., Leifer, L., Toye, G., & Bailey, T. (2005). Using wikis and weblogs to support reflective learning in an introductory engineering design course. Proceeding of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition. Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://riee.stevens.edu/fileadmin/riee/pdf/ASEE2005_Paper_Wikis_and_Weblogs.pdf
Tools, like weblogs and wikis, have caught the attention of many in the field of education. The fact that these tools are easy to use, accessible via the Web, and encourage knowledge management and collaboration make them attractive to many educators. One goal of this study was to determine ways to encourage reflective thinking about the design engineering process. This paper examines the integration of weblogs and wikis into a freshman engineering seminar at Stanford University.
The authors found that students who completed the course, Designing the Human Experience were able to see the products they produced during the course, but they did not necessarily see the learning process that accompanied them. All of the students in the course were in their first year, and one-third of the students in this course were female. A number of the students enrolled in the course had no prior design experience. The study described in this article was conducted in winter 2004 and spring 2005. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected, and all students were interviewed at the end of the course about their experiences. The findings indicate that core expectations, concreteness, feedback, and robustness are keys to maintaining student engagement. Areas to explore in the future, such as gender differences and long-term effects, plus suggestions for improving the Folio Thinking approach wrap up the discussion.
Dickey, M. D. (2004, November). The impact of web-logs (blogs) on student perceptions of isolation and alienation in a web-based distance-learning environment. Open Learning, 19(3). Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://www.citeulike.org/user/cgering/article/83844
Research has shown that students participating in online courses may experience feelings of isolation and frustration. The goal of this article is to examine whether the integration of blogs into an online course experience may alleviate some sources of student distress. A Web-based course for pre-service teacher education students conducted in the fall semester of 2003 was selected to research the use of blogs as a discourse tool. Data collected included observations of blog postings, interviews, email interactions, and course evaluations.
The study found that students used the blogs in different ways. Some used the blogs to reflect on their assignments, while others used them for more social purposes and as a way to express frustrations. Students also used the blogs to direct others to outside sources of information. Based on the survey and interview data, students, overall, reported positive feelings towards the use of the blogs. However, not everyone was 100% satisfied with the experience. Some students felt that others were ignoring the entries, and that the community members were not supportive. Further research is needed in this area, but in this study, blogs did help combat some of the negative issues surrounding online course experiences.
Downes, S. (2004, September/October). Educational blogging. Educause. Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0450.pdf
The article opens with a brief scenario outlining the activities of fifth and sixth grade students at Institut St. Joseph in Quebec City to illustrate a new trend in education: the use of blogs in and out of the classroom. At the time this article was published, there were no exact data outlining the number of blogs being used in schools; however, several individuals and groups, like Will Richardson and the Educational Bloggers Network, were touting the benefits of this online tool.
Blogs have been shown to have many diverse uses and purposes outside the classroom. For example, some individuals use blogs for personal and social uses, while others use blogs in more of a journalistic capacity. One thing that makes the use of blogs so attractive is their ease-of-use. The article describes the technology and software that contribute to this feature. Negative features of blogs and blogging, such as the potential conflict between the blogger and the administration, the possibility that not all students will be motivated to use the tool, and the lack of commitment to continue the blog once the course has ended are mentioned. When comparing the positives to the negatives, blogging appears to be a tool that has the potential to provide students with a richer educational experience and promote life-long learning.
Dron, J. (2003). The blog and the borg: A collective approach to e-learning. Paper presented at E-Learn 2003, AACE, Phoenix, Arizona.
This paper examines the use of blogs in Reflective Use of Communication Technologies, a year-long course offered at the University of Brighton, United Kingdom. At the time this paper was presented, the course had been offered for three years and attracted about 12 students each year. Much of the learning in this experiential course is conducted through online dialogue via the technologies being studied. It is also loosely modeled on Kolb's learning cycle, which outlines ways to understand different learning styles and the cycle of learning.
One portion of the course involved the maintenance of a blog, which was designed to capture the students' reflections. Many of the blog entries reflected on frustrations with the technology and on the students' desire for more structure. The blogs in this situation were found to facilitate the development of effective online learning communities where students provide most of the instruction. Another advantage of basing the coursework primarily on the blogs is that plagiarism become virtually impossible.
Du, H. S., & Wagner, C. (2005). Learning with weblogs: An empirical investigation. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 38th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS'05) - Track 1 (p. 7). Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://wagnernet.com/tiki/tiki-download_file.php?fileId=8
Universities are under a lot of pressure to show the educational impacts on student learning. Assessments designed to measure learning are often used to determine if initiatives undertaken in the classroom are actually doing the job. One concern is whether or not the learning that takes place in the classroom will transfer to other situations. One approach to promote a lasting experience is to incorporate the use of learning logs into the education experience. This article takes this concept one step further by also examining the use of weblogs in the classroom, and discusses how this online tool promotes components of the constructivist model, such as accountability, collaboration, and benchmarking. The goal of the study outlined in this article is to determine whether or not learning logs can be used to predict overall course performance.
In order to accomplish this goal, students in a senior elective course for information systems majors, conducted during the 2003-2004 academic year, were selected as the unit of analysis. All students in the course were asked to keep a weekly learning log using Blogger software. A total of nine weblog entries were required during the 13-week semester. The study confirmed the initial hypothesis, and found that students who did well on the weblog portion of the course also performed well on the exam. Their overall course performance was high, as well.
Efimova, L., & Fiedler, S. (2004). Learning webs: Learning in weblog networks. In P. Kommers, P. Isaias, & M. B. Nunes (Eds.). Proceedings of the IADIS International Conference Web Based Communities 2004 (pp. 490-494). Lisbon, Portugal: IADIS Press.
Personal Web publishing tools, such as weblogs, allow individuals who are not technologically savvy a means to utilize the Web's publication capabilities. A number of weblogs are maintained for the purpose of staying connected to friends and family; however, there have been an increasing number of individuals who have started using weblogs for professional development and as a storage facility for personal knowledge. Several examples are used to illustrate ways in which weblogs may be used to foster professional development and learning. One is the display of blogrolls as a sign of value and personal recommendation. Another is the ways in which weblogs act like references in scholarly publications. The ability to have conversations is also noted.
A study questionnaire was distributed to those who maintained a weblog and those who did not to determine the motivation to blog. Respondents indicated that they started a weblog for learning purposes and found that it facilitated the development of their knowledge skills. It also allowed them to create learning communities with others. In conclusion, there are strong indications that weblogs are being used to support learning outside formal institutions.
Farmer, J. (2004). Communication dynamics: Discussion boards, weblogs and the development of communities of inquiry in online learning environments. In R. Atkinson, C. McBeath, D. Jonas-Dwyer & R. Phillips (Eds.). Beyond the comfort zone: Proceedings of the 21st ASCILITE Conference (pp. 274-283). Perth, 5-8 December. Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/perth04/procs/farmer.html
Weblogs began as simply a way to record links to websites, but they have since evolved into a much richer tool. This type of technology has many features that lend themselves to fostering what the author calls, "communities of inquiry." Some of these include the ability to self-publish with ease, the capability to comment on posts, and the unique time and date stamping function.
Some believe that a community of learners and effective communication are important contributors to higher learning in an online environment. Certain technologies, such as weblogs, may facilitate this process in a valuable way. This article examines weblogs in relation to three different categories: social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence. When blogs are examined based on these characteristics, the technology appears to be able to effectively meet the needs of those attempting to establish a community of inquiry. For example, in terms of the social presence characteristic, weblogs allow students to present themselves as "real people." Weblogs support the cognitive presence category by offering a mechanism that facilitates reflection and critical thinking. Students also gain the ability to develop a unique voice. However, weblogs do not rate quite as favorably in the teacher presence category. In fact, the author suggests that this may be due in part to a weblog feature referred to in the article as "incorporated subversion," which allows students to express themselves in ways that go beyond the scope of the teacher's original objective.
Ferdig, R. E., & Trammell, K. D. (2004, February). Content delivery in the 'blogosphere.' T.H.E. Journal. Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://www.thejournal.com/magazine/vault/A4677.cfm
Blogs have the potential to be an effective medium for education. The ways in which blogs can be used in the classroom are covered in this article. Not only do the authors tout the benefits of blogging in educational settings, but they also support these claims by tying the use of this medium to educational pedagogy.
Knowledge building is a key factor in teaching and learning. Blogs can be used to make the task more authentic and more active by enabling students to publish their entries instantaneously in a public space for teachers, classmates, and others to view. Because the writing can be accessed by an outside audience, students become accountable for their entries. Blogs also allow students to voice their thoughts and opinions, as well as receive comments and feedback about their posts. This interactive process creates an environment where students can personalize their learning and deepen their understanding. For those interested in implementing blogs in the classroom, the authors provide five suggestions. Four benefits of student blogging are also outlined.
Fielder, S. (2003). Personal webpublishing as a reflective conversational tool for self-organized learning. In T. D. Burg, BlogTalks (pp. 190-216). Vienna, Austria.
An increasing number of people want to explore the use of blogs for educational purposes, and the technology is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of applications. There is a growing need to investigate ways to support student learning outside of traditional educational settings, and blogs may be one option. The characteristics of blogs naturally allows for self-organized learning. Those who are able to learn these skills will be able to take responsibility for their own learning and use the technology to support self-defined projects.
Tools such as weblogs may permit individuals to step back and reflect. Weblogs allow individuals to represent their own thoughts and perspectives. The use of this technology also allows individuals to shift from a task-focused activity to one that is more learning-focused. More studies are needed to determine the ways in which weblogs impact learning, but there are signs indicating the technology is effective for those who currently self-manage their learning. Those who do not already manage their learning may need more support before they can benefit from the use of weblogs.
Forster, P. W., & Tam, T. (2004, May). Blogging in an MBA classroom: Personal experiences. Proceedings of the second teaching and learning symposium, Hong Kong, China. Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://hdl.handle.net/1783.1/1728
One key aspect about this article is the suggestion that the use of blogs may help dampen the proliferation of plagiarism among students. Blogs enable students to reflect on their own thoughts rather than merely extracting the opinions of others. The emphasis on self-directed learning may serve to reduce some of the unethical practices conducted by a growing number of students.
After presenting background information about blogs and outlining ways they may be used in education, the article focuses on the use of blogs in an MBA classroom. In the spring of 2003, the SARS outbreak caused many Hong Kong institutions to enact a more flexible educational design. It was at this point that the authors set up a course blog to encourage interactions and to support online case discussions. They encountered several challenges in the use of the blog for these purposes, including keeping the blog updated and motivating students to use it. However, several positive aspects of the blogging experience are also noted, including the opportunity to increase the interactions of the MBA students. It was concluded that the design of the discussion is very important. The design should encourage student interaction, and the instructor should actively moderate these discussions. Attempts to evenly distribute the workload should be made so students do not feel overwhelmed, and the instructor should wrap up the case at the end of the discussion.
Glogoff, S. (2003). Blogging in an online course: A report on student satisfaction among first-time bloggers. Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://www.ltc.arizona.edu/blogginginonlineworldpdf.pdf
This article begins by outlining the characteristics of weblogs. Some of those discussed include musings about Internet and social issues, as well as other commentaries. Weblogs are easy to use and affordable. This technology also provides the formation of virtual communities and enables interactivity between the author and the audience.
The class, Decision Making for Information Professionals, was the basis for this study. In the summer of 2003, 29 students enrolled in this online master's-level course. Two weblogs, Technology News and IRLS613, were incorporated into the curriculum. Students were asked to complete three anonymous surveys to assess the effectiveness of the weblogs, and they reported positive experiences. One surprising upshot was that the original purpose of the IRLS613 weblog evolved in such a way that it became a more valuable tool for the students.
Glogoff, S. (2005). Instructional blogging: Promoting interactivity, student-centered learning, and peer input. Innovate, 1(5). Retrieved December 12, 2005 from http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=126
The author begins the article by noting the Web's ability to "nurture, foster, and enable community." Instructional blogging may provide students enrolled in online courses a way to capture some of the Web's community-building attributes. It may also allow students and instructors to extend the realm of the virtual educational environment.
In 2003 and 2004, the author taught the course, Decision Making for Information Professionals at the School of Information Resources and Library Science at the University of Arizona. Each student was provided with an individual weblog at the beginning of the course. A weblog for the course as a whole was also developed. Students were assigned topics and asked to post their thoughts to the blog. Some students exchanged ideas and asked each other questions. The instructor was also able to provide comments and feedback to students. Blogging emphasized the importance of social and peer interactions, and it added a real-world context to their experiences. Based on the 2003 experiences, the 2004 course was revised to require students to post and to make at least three comments per week. Students in the later course reported having a greater sense of community, a better understanding of the course materials, and a higher level of satisfaction. The article concludes that a weblog can be an effective e-learning tool that is appropriate for online and hybrid courses.
Huffaker, D. (2005). The educated blogger: Using weblogs to promote literacy in the classroom. AACE Journal, 13(2), 91-98.
The use of blogs is beginning to find a place in educational settings. One of the uses outlined in this article is to promote literacy in the classroom. The article begins by providing a brief discussion of blogs before illustrating the ways blogs can be used to encourage individual expression and foster community development.
Literacy is an important skill that follows individuals from childhood to adulthood. Digital fluency - the feeling of being comfortable with technology - is becoming another type of literacy that is gaining prominence in the field of education. The use of blogs allows the integration of both types of literacy into one learning experience. Blogs can also be used to foster storytelling capabilities and can be blended into a variety of multidisciplinary experiences. Several examples of blogs in practice are presented, including Will Richardson's weblogg-ed.com, the Galileo Academy of Science, and Technology's Li-Blog-ary.
Johnson, A. (2004). Creating a writing course utilizing class and student blogs. The Internet TESL Journal, 10(8). Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Johnson-Blogs/
Even though it is still in its infancy, blogging has already been integrated into several courses and writing programs. The ideas discussed in this article stem from the experiences of a graduate level science writing course that was taught in the spring of 2003. Two potential uses that are introduced here are the team blog and the tutor blog.
Ways to set up a blog-based writing class are outlined in detail. Some of the concepts that are presented by the authors are based on student feedback; however, they were not added into this particular course. Features of the blog-based class, setting up class and student blogs via Blogger, and viewing the teacher blogs are a few of the topics included in this section. Advantages of blogging for both students and teachers are also discussed. The article concludes that more applications for blogs in an educational setting will be uncovered as more and more teachers integrate them into the curriculum.
Jones, D. (in press). Enhancing the learning journey for distance education students in an introductory programming course. Retrieved July 5, 2006, from
The impetus for this study was the low completion rate of a procedural programming course offered at Central Queensland University. At this point, the study has focused on improving the completion rates for only those enrolled in the distance education version of the course. This was done because these students have the lowest completion rates and because they had been asking for changes for a considerable amount of time. A discussion about the use of blogs and coursecasting to improve the learning and ultimately the completion of the course is also provided.
Kajder, S., & Bull, G. (2003). Scaffolding for struggling students: Reading and writing with blogs. International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), 31(2), 32-35.
Students throughout the U.S. struggle with reading and writing. They often only read a book or write down their thoughts if those tasks are connected to an assignment. These activities often fail to make any connection to real-world activities, and students, therefore, find the assignments to lack in authenticity. Some educators are examining blogs as a way to rectify this situation.
This article outlines six instructional characteristics of a blog, and presents 10 possible instructional activities. Examples of the instructional characteristics include features like economy, feedback, and active participation. Instructional activities include aspects like character journals, devil's advocate writing, and storyblogs. One feature that is emphasized in this article is the significant instructional potential of blogs for improving student engagement.
Lohnes, S. (2003). Weblogs in education: Bringing the world to the liberal arts classroom. The Newsletter of the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education, 2(1). Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://newsletter.nitle.org/v2_n1_winter2003/features_weblogs.php
Background and historical information preface the discussion about the use of blogs in a liberal arts classroom. Blogs are easier to use than traditional Web publishing tools, and this fact has allowed many faculty and students to take advantage of the technology. One sentence in the article emphasizes this point by stating, "Publishing a website is no longer the domain of the nerd." Blog postings are also public, and the audience can include people from around the world.
There are a number of ways to use blogs in a liberal arts classroom. In some cases, blogs are being used as a means to strengthen the class community. Three ideas as to how blogs can be employed in an educational setting are noted, and include providing course content, creating student portfolios, and facilitating collaborative efforts. As students and faculty continue to use and experiment with blogs, educators will gain a better sense of how this technology can be used as a learning tool. At the end of this article, a list of links are provided for those who wish to find out more about blogging, take a look at examples of classroom weblog projects, and learn more about weblog software vendors.
Lowe, C., & Williams, T. (2004). Moving to the public: Weblogs in the writing classroom. Into the Blogosphere. Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://blog.lib.umn.edu/blogosphere/moving_to_the_public_pf.html
Blogs allow students to accomplish a number of tasks. For example, weblogs enable students to integrate thoughts and opinions about different academic topics with personal items of interest. Students can use the technology to reflect on and link to familiar and unfamiliar concepts. One of the benefits associated with blogging is that it provides the opportunity for social interaction between an author and the audience. Students tend to take writing more seriously when it is done in a public space and for someone other than the teacher. In the era of reality show television, students may find it intriguing to see private thoughts made public.
On the other side of the coin, some teachers and students fear the public nature of blogs. Teachers are often more comfortable "with the private," and they should be aware of these biases when contemplating the use of blogs in their classroom. A section near the end of this article describes some of the benefits associated with writing in a public space; one point that is emphasized is that weblogs allow students to take ownership of their work.
Martindale, T., & Wiley, D. A. (2005). Using weblogs in scholarship and teaching. TechTrends, 49(2), 55-61.
A definition of the term "weblog" and the history behind the use of this tool kick off the first portion of this article. Ways in which blogs can be used to promote professional development and scholarship are also discussed. For example, the BROG Project (Blog Research on Genre) is mentioned as an example of a group conducting blog research.
In the next section, the article launches into a discussion on instructional blogging and describes the authors' experiences using blogs in different educational settings. The first one examines the use of blogs in an educational leadership doctoral-level course. Each student in this course was provided with a blog, which was intended to supplement the discussions in the face-to-face seminar. The blog structure proved to carryout the goals established by the instructor; however, the students stopped blogging at the end of the course despite the fact that they were encouraged to continue. Other courses that integrated blogging into the curriculum are mentioned, and they include a team-taught survey course and an online course of the culture of online interaction. Positive comments were expressed by students participating in both courses. Overall, the theme of the article is that blogging promotes communication among a variety of different audiences, including those in education.
Oravec, J. (2003). Blending by blogging: Weblogs in blended learning initiatives. Journal of Educational Media, 28(2-3), 225-233.
Weblogs can be an effective means by which instructors can bridge face-to-face instruction with online learning tools. The weblog can be used as a way to allow students to develop an individual voice and flesh out their own personal thoughts. Because they are so easy to use and are aligned with educational pedagogy, interest in blending weblogs into courses is now growing. Educators can incorporate weblogs into the curriculum in a number of different ways, some of which include posting student work, exchanging hyperlinks, fostering reflective approaches to educational genres, and forming and maintaining knowledge communities. Weblogs are not without their problems, though, and educators should be aware of those before jumping into this medium. Some drawbacks include: showcasing hot topics rather than those that may be more constructive; encouraging the use of secondary sources; and maintaining a weblog on a regular basis can be boring and time consuming.
The use of weblogs in an educational setting can have benefits beyond those commonly associated with the technology, such as discouraging plagiarism and counteracting information overload. Weblogs by nature foster critical evaluation and reflective learning techniques, which may prove to illustrate the importance of academic integrity and intellectual ownership. Links may also be used to direct students to useful resources that may otherwise be missed.
Oravec, J. (2002). Bookmarking the world: Weblog applications in education. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(7), 616-621.
Weblogs are an ideal medium to foster self-expression and interaction with the writer's audience. Educators can introduce weblogs as an online tool for classroom interaction, as well as a means to bring in materials on new topics. There are numerous free sources to support the use of weblogs in the classroom, and many are very easy to use. Not only are weblogs easy to use, but they may also discourage many of the problems that continue to plague education, including plagiarism and copyright violations.
Even though weblogs can be used to enhance the learning experience, there are some concerns educators should be aware of before launching into the use of this new medium. Web links can go dead after a period of time, which makes weblog materials that include links difficult to archive. Privacy is also an area to consider. The public nature of weblogs should be made known to students. Another concern is the topic matters discussed on weblogs. Some of these materials may not be appropriate in an educational setting, and may not be suitable for young students.
Poling, C. (2005). Blog on: Building communication and collaboration among staff and students. Learning & Leading with Technology, 32(6), 12-15.
Blogs have been thought of as a personal online journal, but their proliferation on the Internet has been capturing the interest of many educators. Educational curricula are often designed to foster critical thinking and reflective learning, which are skills that can be integrated into the blog format. This article discusses some of the ways in which blogs can improve comprehension and support collaborative learning.
Five ways blogs can be used in an educational setting are outlined. They include brief discussions on the following: blogging to support learning, individual blogs, classroom blogs, collaborative blogs, and staff development blogs. Most of the discussion surrounding these areas is positive; however, concerns such as the appropriateness of blog content, privacy issues, and the inclusion of ongoing technical support are also addressed.
Richardson, W. (2004). Blogging and RSS: The "what's it?" and "how to" of powerful new web tools for educators. InfoToday, 11(1). Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://www.infotoday.com/MMSchools/jan04/richardson.shtml
Blogging is changing the way educators and students use the Web. Those in education have been slower to adopt this new technology for reasons, such as privacy and access concerns. This is changing, and many are beginning to use blogs in a number of innovative ways. Educators also note that one of the best features of blogs, besides their ease-of-use, is the fact that many blogging software tools are free.
One of the many uses of blogs in an educational setting can be for the implementation of collaborative projects. The author describes his own blogging experiences that occurred in a high school literature class he taught. The book selected for this project was The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and a blog was set up to extend the discussion beyond the classroom. Much to the students' surprise, the author of the book even joined in on the conversation. Other examples, such as Pam Pritchard's use of audioblogs to help her students improve their reading and pronunciation skills, are also examined.
Roberts, S. (2003). Campus communications & the wisdom of blogging. Syllabus. Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://www.campus-technology.com/article.asp?id=7982
The flexible and user-friendly characteristics of blogs have allowed many to become self-publishers. Fields, like journalism, have jumped on the blog bandwagon, and education is following suit. The number and type of blogging applications in academia are endless. A few examples are discussed, and they include the following possibilities: students using blogs to chronicle their study abroad experience; faculty extending class discussions beyond the set class period; and researchers collaborating on projects from geographically dispersed locations. As the article points out, blogging is quickly becoming "the backbone of a new Internet communications movement."
Blogging has not been around very long, but it is already beginning to evolve. Approaches, such as knowledge logs (k-logs) are beginning to surface. Wikis - tools that allow individuals to build and edit Web page content via a Web browser - and other blog-like sites are also quickly gaining popularity. The impact of blogs and similar technologies remains to be seen, but the article closes by suggesting that planning, monitoring, and supporting policies and guidelines are the keys to success.
Schroeder, R. (2003). E-learning basics: Essay: One path to the blog: An odyssey in tracking and sharing technology with the online higher education community. eLearn Magazine, 6, 3.
The author outlines his experiences with various technologies, starting with writing BASIC on micro-computers and ending with blogs. In 1978, he began teaching courses in communication technology and saw the realm of technologies explode in the 1990s. It became a challenge for him to track the changes and educate students about the proliferation of various technologies. After much experimentation with tools, like electronic discussion lists, he finally stumbled upon blogs as a way to do the job.
Several articles have pointed out that part of the appeal of blogs is due to their ease-of-use and their character, and this one is no exception. The author briefly discusses the three educational blogs he maintains. He also notes that visitors to his blogs come from all over the world and use a variety of means to get there. Some have bookmarked the blog; some have been referred to his blogs from other sites, and others have arrived via a search engine. In the author's opinion, one of the most valuable features of blogs is the auto-archiving function.
Sharma, P., & Fiedler, S. (2004). Introducing technologies and practices for supporting self-organized learning in a hybrid environment. In K. Tochterman & J. Mauer (Eds.). Proceedings of I-Know '04 (pp. 543-550). Graz, Austria: Know-Center, Austria.
Students leaving higher education and entering the "real world" may find that they are not as prepared as they thought. Teaching and learning in a corporate environment is structured differently from that conducted in a traditional classroom setting. One possible way to bring the two sides closer together and encourage new student learning is for higher education to adopt hybrid environments.
Web publishing tools, such as weblogs, can be used to support hybrid learning environments. There are several advantages to using Web publishing tools to foster what the authors call, "self-organized learning." One advantage is that students are able to review their learning. They are also able to explore their own interests, formulate reflections, and make connections to outside materials. The instructor's role in this type of environment and in using these types of tools also changes. Instead of being the "omniscient teacher," the instructor takes on the role of a coach. As a coach, the instructor scaffolds the student's learning process and provides feedback. Peer-to-peer interaction and audience participation, made possible through technologies, like weblogs, add to the teaching and learning process.
Sharos, D. (2006, March 13). Blogs taking a seat in, out of classrooms. The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 7, 2006, from http://www.chicagotribune.com/ [fee subscription required]
Some educators have begun exploring the possibilities associated with blogging in the classroom. Blogging as an educational tool has been linked back to a conference presentation in 2004, and its use appears to be on the rise, particularly with the expansion of online learning opportunities. Even though some claim that blogs are easy enough for kindergarteners to use, educators emphasize that students must be taught how to use this technology in an educational setting.
Stiller, G. M., & Philleo, T. (2003). Blogging and blospots: An alternative format for encouraging reflective practice among preservice teachers. Education, 123(4), 789-797.
Initiatives described in this article began in response to a new set of requirements outlined by the authors' department at the University of Southern Indiana. The department implemented a "Reflective Teacher Model" with the goal of increasing the reflective practices of preservice teachers in the program. Several different options were investigated before deciding to use Blogger as a way to promote this practice.
Blogger was incorporated into two undergraduate preservice courses (Multicultural Education and Technology in Education). Students were asked to complete a survey, and their blog entries were reviewed. The findings of these data show that students were more analytical and evaluative than those who did not use blogs in previous semesters. Posts were longer and more reflective. Students also found the Blogger software to be easy to use. Complaints about the blogging experience include technical difficulties and concerns about privacy. Overall, the use of blogs enhanced the reflective abilities of students. On a closing note, the authors indicate that the review of the students' progress, instructor guidance and mediation are critical components when integrating blogs into an educational setting.
Trafford, P. (2005). Mobile blogs, personal reflections and learning environments. Ariadne, 44. Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue44/trafford/
This article begins by pointing out that there is a lack of literature on the merits of the use of blogs in higher education, although it does recognize that this type of information is beginning to slowly emerge. The studies that have been conducted indicate that blogs can be a useful tool in an educational setting and can even encourage interaction among students. Blogs can also enable students to reflect on their learning and make their reflections publicly available to others. In addition, this medium empowers students to develop critical thinking and analytical skills, and encourages them to take control of their own learning.
Experiences of those included in the Remote Authoring of Mobile Blogs for Learning Environments (RAMBLE) project are noted in the author's discussion. Students in the first group were asked to provide feedback on lectures, tutorials, and practices. The second group of students recorded learning experiences while on a clinical rotation. Blogs for both groups were maintained for six months, and the blogging experience was made mobile via PDAs and cell phones. Changes in the posts were noted after a few weeks with students reporting that they felt like they were gaining confidence and making connections at many different levels. Students did read each other's blogs, but very few used the comments feature. At the end, some students positively reported on the blogging experience, while others did not take to it. In conclusion, the blogs did support the students' reflective practices, and the mobile technologies proved to enhance the experience.
Wagner, C. (2003). Put another (b)log on the wire: Publishing learning logs as weblogs. Journal of Information Systems Education, 14(2), 131-132.
Benefits associated with learning logs can be further enhanced by the move from paper to an electronic format, like weblogs. Certain characteristics of weblogs, such as immediate publication, can be used to strengthen the value associated with learning logs. Possible extensions of this technology to improve the student experience are also suggested.
This article begins by discussing the nature of learning logs, the history of weblogs, and the results of the combination of the two. Several features of the learning weblog are noted, and they include the following: students can share their thoughts and get feedback; they can focus on the content rather than about record keeping activities; students can learn about the Web and self-publishing; students can collaborate on projects; instructors can monitor the logs easily; and there is no need for instructors to convert the final documents and publish them at the end of the project. The author wraps up the article by suggesting the use of wikis as a way to expand on the weblog experience.
Walker, J. (2005). Weblogs: Learning in public. On the Horizon, 13(2), 112-118.
The author, who began blogging while completing her Ph.D., wanted her students to take control of their own learning and find their own voice. Students were asked to maintain a weblog in an attempt to create a richer learning environment and make the experience one that would possibly have an impact outside the classroom. Some students quickly adopted blogging into their learning routine, while others did so reluctantly.
Blogging does not come naturally to all students, and some may encounter difficulties along the way. Several of these issues can be overcome with a bit of coaxing and some practice. One way to do this is to design explicit exercises for students to complete via the blog in class. As students in the author's course began to get more comfortable working in this medium and realized that others were reading their entries, their writing improved. Students also encouraged each other to write more, thereby fostering a collaborative learning environment. As the blogging culture becomes more engrained into the students' learning routine, the value of an individual's work become inherent. This blogging code of conduct then serves to discourage destructive activities, such as plagiarism.
Ward, J. M. (2004). Blog assisted language learning (BALL): Push button publishing for the pupils. TEFL Web Journal, 3(1). Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://www.teflweb-j.org/v3n1/blog_ward.pdf
This article begins by providing an outline of the history of weblogs, a definition of the technology, and a description of how this tool could be used to develop communication skills. A case is made for the use of weblogs to effectively teach reading and writing to students. One aspect of weblogs that can be a motivating factor is the realization of writing for an audience. For the language learner, weblogs not only show students that writing is an on-going process, but the technology also removes some of the inhibitions associated with face-to-face interactions. In fact, the author points out that some of the quietest face-to-face students can have some of the loudest weblogs. Because weblogs enable students to become readers as well as writers, this tool also fosters the development of critical thinking skills.
Weblogs are not just a fad, and many educators are beginning to adopt this technology. In fact, many students in journalism and L2 courses have started blogging. Some caution that blogging should not be tied to grades and emphasize the importance of students to become self-motivated. Students who use weblogs in the classroom find blogging to be an enjoyable experience that allows them to express their personal views and get feedback. Those who report disliking the blogging experience often point to technological problems.
Williams, J. B., & Jacobs, J. (2004). Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20(2), 232-247. Retrieved December 12, 2005, from http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet20/williams.html
One of the strengths of this article is its discussion of the history of blogs and wikis. Several dates are noted as contributing to the "explosion" of blogging as a self-publishing tool. Some point to mid-1999 and the arrival of Blogger.com as a key point in time. Others say blogging started in 1992 with the arrival of the first Web site; and then there are those who indicate the true notion of blogging began in 1997 with Scripting News and Slashdot. While other technologies, such as wikis, have come on the scene, the popularity of blogging continues to grow.
One section of the article examines the use of blogs as a "learning space" for students in higher education. The authors explore the blogging methods used in courses offered at Harvard Law School and Brisbane Graduate School of Business (BGSB). Descriptions of the students' experiences with the blogs at BGSB are noted, and it is emphasized that the process was to be as student-centered as possible. Student questionnaires were administered to assess the blogging experience. Overall, students favored the use of blogs and thought they improved the learning process.
Wrede, O. (2003, May). Weblogs as a transformational technology for higher education and academic research. Paper presented at the Blogtalk Conference, Vienna, Austria.
This paper takes a look at the positive aspects of weblogs in education, and emphasizes that this technology is different from other software concepts that may be used to enhance the learning process. A key feature that makes weblogs unique is the type of authorship that takes shape - neither the writers nor the readers are necessarily professionals. Numerous advantages of using weblogs are also outlined and include things like creating interactions and conversations.
Educators are beginning to find different ways of using weblogs in the classroom. The author indicates the need for flexibility and the acknowledgment of the role weblogs will play in the course. Instructors may even find some students to be less than enthusiastic about using weblogs. The article concludes by summarizing several ways that this technology can be used to create a more learner-centered educational environment.
Xie, Y., & Sharma, P. (2004). Students' lived experience of using weblogs in a class: An exploratory study. Retrieved December 13, 2005, from http://ernie.concordia.ca/ra_levin/weblogs_and_higher_education.pdf
Reflective learning and critical thinking are important practices in many university courses. Students often find it difficult to engage in reflection without support. Making links between the course material and external resources can also be challenging. The goal of this article is to examine the experiences and thoughts about maintaining a blog for a course.
Very little empirical evidence is available at this time to support the use of blogs in an educational setting. What is available tends to be a collection of student experiences and examinations on the impact of student-instructor interactions. In contrast, the study outlined in this article takes a look at nine Ph.D. students (four males; five females) who maintained a blog as part of their graduate course requirements. At the end of the course, the students were interviewed about the experience. Several positive aspects about blogging were noted in the interviews. One was that the tool encouraged critical thinking and the development of different points of view. Another positive aspect of blogging was its ability to disseminate additional information and expand on the course content. Negative features, such as the need for structure and the lack of privacy, were also pointed out. On the whole, most students reported feeling positive about the blogging experience and felt that it helped them in their learning and thinking; however, greater structure and guidance about the proper usage of the blogs were recommended. 
Sharon Stoerger