- What do you see as the role of blogs for learning as integrated in formal learning environments?
Blogs can be a multi-use tool and can achieve both collaboration and reflection goals set forth by the instructor. with so much opportunity it is critical that the goals for incorporating this technology are thoughtful and intentional. Just plopping a blog into a course and expecting students to engage with it (not to mention understand its benefits) could be far fetched. Bartholomew talks in his article about the “five major factors for successful course blogging” including integration, technology roles, best practices, socialization and collaboration, and continual development. What I get from this is that a course blog is like a living organism and thought should be put in from the start until sometimes beyond the timeframe of the course.
I liked that the article addressed so many of the concerns that folks have when thinking about possibly integrating blogs into their classes. Blogs can, to some extent, force you to give up a little control over the conversation happening “during class”. The anonymity can provide just enough cover for folks to really let loose verbally. It was really reassuring to hear that students respected each other when commenting. Grading was another major concern, as was keeping up with the flow of posts and comments. Along with the tips outlined in this article, my interviewee Bart Pursel shared with me the rubric he uses for his students blogs and I’m sharing it here.
- What do you see as the role of blogs when self-initiated and informal (i.e., outside bounds of any insitution/formal classroom), especially in the context of learning?
When people keep blogs that describe and inform others on how they teach and the tools that they’ve used both with and without success, it helps the rest of us become better teachers through learning. It also acts as an incredible support system for those “lone rangers” experimenting with technology for the first time. I have found that no matter what question I’m having or challenge I’m facing, there is someone else out there that has had the same problem. More often than not they’ve even written an entire blog post about it.
- What do you see as the most important aspects to consider in using blogs for learning?
Blogs, like any web-based information source should be looked at with a critical eye and discerning mind. Unlike major information news sources, blogs are typically written by an individual and can swing from mildly subjective to wildly one-sided. For us as educators, it’s important to keep this in mind when using blogs as a learning tool for ourselves.
When using blogs as a teaching tool there are many things that are important to consider. There are so many benefits associated with keeping a blog for class, but it is up to us to make those apparent and relevant to the student. It can easily become overwhelming in large classes to make sense of individual blogs, so picking one or two behaviors to encourage through blogging is a smart place to start. That was one bit of advice I got from the person I interviewed this week, Bart Pursel, on the use of blogs in the classroom. The rest can be found in the interview itself which is linked below. Enjoy!