I do not have much experience using blogs, except reading them and using them for our course so far. However, I have used discussion boards, especially discussion boards within a learning management system (LMS) such as ANGEL. As we have discussed blogs and Web 2.0 tools, I have wondered where these closed discussion boards fit. In the Bartholomew, Jones, and Glassman paper from this week’s reading, I strongly agreed with the statement on p. 21, “Although closed University discussion boards are not blogs in the traditional sense, they do promote commentary within a community of learners similar to that of customary blogs.” I had been thinking the same thing! One of the benefits that I see for a discussion forum within a LMS is that there is more privacy as the boards are shared with only those students enrolled in that course. This is similar to speaking in your class of 20 students as opposed to it being broadcast to anyone who wants to see it across the world. While students today don’t get as concerned with their privacy, I am of a different generation, and I am concerned with my digital footprint. Another problem with blog posts that was discussed in the article is how easy it is for posts to get lost as the more recent posts will be the first in the list. I’m sure there are ways in different blog sites to manage which posts have been read, but I am used to the system in ANGEL that shows me when I enter the course which posts I have not read yet. ANGEL also has a threaded view that makes reading replies easier than having to click to the original post and then read the replies.
On page 24 of the Bartholomew et al. paper, I was taken by surprise regarding the description of how instructors minimized their own participation on the blogs. I have learned through prior coursework that instructors should maintain an active presence in online discussion forums to encourage student-instructor interaction. But it did make sense that students would feel greater ownership with the blog if instructor posting was minimized. I thought the example on that same page of the instructor picking two of the most interesting posts to discuss was an excellent way to promote models for other students to emulate. The most important aspects to consider in using blogs for learning in these formal environments is to design the assignments so that it is appropriate for the particular learning environment and for the desired learning outcomes. Not every blog type or structure will work for every situation.
Based on the readings and blog sites I explored, blogs in formal learning environments can allow for sharing of information, reflection, interaction with peers and the instructor, and collaboration. In the “Voices from Cornell Abroad” blog (http://blogs.cornell.edu/studyabroad/), not only were the students creating a chronicle with different forms of media, they were reflecting on their journey as the semester drew to a close. I would like to incorporate more reflection pieces in my own coursework because it allows students to think of the conclusion of the course not as an ending but simply part of their lifelong learning. In the informal blogs that I read, there was the ability to share content such as articles and videos, comment on that content, and reflect on how that content affects one’s own professional practice. I explored both “The Tempered Radical” (http://blog.williamferriter.com/) and Bryan Alexander’s blog (www.bryanalexander.org). If I were to create my own blog, #4 from the Balsley reading would be most appropriate: “holds you accountable”. That way, if I posted an idea I wanted to try, I would be more willing to follow through because I would know that my blog followers were waiting to hear about how it went! I may be too chicken to do this, but my goggle calendar helps me with this quite a lot!
For my podcast interview, I interviewed a colleague of mine, Professor Kennie Leet from Broome Community College. She is the Chairperson of the Physical Sciences Department and teaches Meterology both online and on campus. I did try to add a little music from Loveshadow to the podcast (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).