Week 5 post – Blogging and podcasting

  • 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!


bart interview

4 thoughts on “Week 5 post – Blogging and podcasting

  1. Phil

    @hannah – really appreciated Bart’s candor in sharing his iterative process and learning design experiments that seemed to succeed and those that faltered. It is this kind of open sharing that genuinely benefits and sustains online learning networks. Also, I can really appreciate his point on the challenges of keeping up with the volume of posts, comments, etc. Teachers who are already busy are going to feel pretty challenged when they’ve got to not only keep up with the content, but also evaluating and commenting. Perhaps there are options here for investigating peer-based evaluations where, for example, teams of students can be scaffolded into evaluating posts and comments. Along these same lines, … I think one of the best features with PSU’s new wordpress platform is the Contributions panel on the dashboard since it displays all users and the categories of interaction (e.g., post, comment). Similarly, and like Bart mentioned in the interview, it’d be great if there were some kind of dashboard that would allow the instructor to quickly glimpse the general trends of these blogging interactions (e.g., a map that depicts posts gaining lots of traction).

  2. Shelby Nelson

    I enjoyed listening to Bart! One of the things that stood out to me was when he talked about how his students must “test it, try it”-becoming comfortable with the structure and technology itself can take a while for some folks. Before asking students to really open up and to use it as a means of learning, they must step out and experience it.
    I was also able to make a connection with your comments about using blogs to learn things. No matter what you’re having difficulty with, using tools like blogs is an excellent way to find the information you need quickly (both professionally or personally!)

  3. mlc400

    I found it interesting that you also commented on the idea of teachers needing to give up the control of a whole group in class discussion. The point in the readings that talked about giving up those “teachable” moments in a lesson really hit me. I believe that there is so much that happens during those teachable moments, that I wonder if the price of giving them up would be less because of the huge gain you get out of blogging? I realize that you can still have teachable moments within the blog by interjecting your own thoughts; but when a blog is set up to be mostly student driven, a teacher can not keep interjecting to seize those moments or the blog turns into a teacher directed blog. Also, I found it interesting that when studied, most blogs that were student driven did not have any problems with inappropriate posts. I think it is important for the teacher to spend time in the beginning teaching students how to respectfully disagree in posts, so that the blog can maintain a positive learning atmosphere where everyone feels safe to contribute their ideas/comments. I liked how you pointed that out because I also found that to be a very interesting point within the readings!

  4. Justin Montgomery

    As you cited from Bartholomew, socialization is a key to “integrate, use and maintain course blogs so that they are a strong and positive educational force in the classroom… [and] promote a collective learning experience for students” (p. 19). Socialization is an apt choice of words, because it captures the realization that students – though digital natives – need guidance and modeling on how to apply Web 2.0 tools (not only toys) in ways that advance their learning. Part of that socialization comes from the students’ end, to which you alluded when citing Bartholomew’s points about students policing their peers when they posted anonymously. This self-directed behavior is a seed of how “a course blog will foster democratic education” (Dewey 1916, Glassman & Kang 2011b).

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