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I’d not thought about that before: using blogs to enhance student learning Nicholas McGuinn Honorary Fellow, Department of Education, University of York nicholas.mcguinn@york.ac.uk. Early Reception ….

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I’d not thought about that before: using blogs to enhance student learning

Nicholas McGuinn

Honorary Fellow, Department of Education, University of York

nicholas.mcguinn@york.ac.uk

slide3

Early Reception …

  • We are being pummelled by a deluge of data and unless we create time and spaces in which to reflect, we will be left with only our reactions
  • Blood, R. (2000) Weblogs: a History and Perspective. http://www.rebeccablood.net/essays/webloghistory.html
  • Blogging makes people more thoughtful and articulate observers of the world around them
  • Blood, R. (2002). The Weblog Handbook: PracticalAdvice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog. Cambridge MA: Perseus Publishing

The weblog is a malleable and fluid medium through which individuals can develop an individualized voice that can reflect facets of their personal style and idiosyncratic intellectual approaches. Fostering such a voice may offset pressures to plagiarize materials or to withdraw in academic or persona personal discussions.

Can be used to explore social construction notions, demonstrating the growth of various communities of practice … and underscoring the value of intellectual property

Oravec, J-A (2003): Blending by Blogging: weblogs in blended learning initiatives, Journal of Educational Media, 28:2-3, 225, 227, 229

  • [B]logs are being hailed as fundamentallydifferent from what came before, and as possessing asocially-transformative, democratizing potential.

The "intermediate" characteristics of blogs makethem attractive to users. In particular, they allowauthors to experience social interaction while givingthem control over the communication space. Combinedwith the unprecedented opportunity blogs provide for

  • ordinary people to self-express publicly, thesecharacteristics suggest that blogs will continue to grow in popularity in the future, and that they will be put toincreasingly diverse uses.
  • Blogs can be used by almost anyone, and beresponsive to people's daily needs. [B]y enablingreaders to post comments, blog soft-ware makes Webpages truly interactive, even if that interactive potentialhas yet to be fully exploited. Moreover, the flexible,
  • hybrid nature of the blog format means that it canexpress a wide range of genres, in accordance with thecommunicative needs of its users.
  • Herring, S.C. Scheidt, L-A, Bonus, S. and Wright, E. (2004) Bridging the Gap: A Genre Analysis of Weblogs. Proceedings of the 37th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences: 1, 11
slide4

… And Now?

  • Students more aware of developing interaction within the virtual space
  • Students become more autonomous (student centred pedagogy)
  • Bhattacharya, A. and Chauhan, K. (2010) Augmenting learner autonomy through blogging, ELT Journal, 64:4, 376
  • Ideal platform for extensive writing on line (in real-life situations)
  • Create a sense of belonging within a cyber community
  • Encourages autonomous reviewing and monitoring of own writing without teacher intervention
  • Fosters meta-cognitive strategies for learning
  • Sun, Y-C (2010) Extensive writing in a foreign-language classroom: a blogging approach. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 47:3, 327, 338
  • Students prefer writing blogs to writing on paper
  • Students appreciate having a personal space for reflective writing
  • Writing for peers is a motivator
  • Peer interactive feedback enhances reflective thinking and can provide emotional support
  • Open-ended tasks encourage creativity
  • Lee, L. (2010) Fostering reflective writing and interactive exchange through blogging in an advanced language course, European Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning, 22:2, 212 – 227
  • Improve communication skills
  • Construct new knowledge through social interaction
  • Encourage move from surface to deep learning
  • Establish learning communities beyond the classroom
  • Provides social and emotional support
  • Jimoyiannis, A. and Angelaina, S. (2012) Towards an analysis framework for investigating students’ engagement and learning in educational blogs, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28:3, 222 - 234
slide5

Robot Wisdom site: February 1995

  • December 17, 1997, Barger began posting daily entries to his Robot Wisdom Weblog
  • Shortened to "blog" by Peter Merholz in 1999
  • 10 million active blogs in 2005
  • Bialik, C. (2005) Measuring the Impact of Blogs Requires More Than Counting. The Wall StreetJournal Online
  • 70 million in April 2007, with 120,000 new blogs being created daily
  • Murray, L. and Hourigan, T. (2008) Blogs for specific purposes: Expressivist or socio-cognitivist approach? European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning 20:1, 83

2011 over 181 million public blogs in existence.

http://www.nmincite.com/

Neilsen/McKinsey (nm incite)

Jorn Barger: 1953 -

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The ‘rules’ for blogging are developing tacitly through debate and consensus with very little in terms of pressure from external authority (such as the opinions of ‘experts’).

  • Weblogs can serve as catalysts in stimulating critical thinking and inspiring students to be lifelong learners.
  • The weblog genre extends these efforts by facilitating the development of individuals’ unique evaluative talents and creative expression. Blogs can be a ready outlet for dissemination of ideas that run counter to academic dogma or the stereotypical themes provided by popular broadcast media.
  • Oravec, J-A (2003): Blending by Blogging: weblogs in blended learning initiatives, Journal of Educational Media, 28:2-3, 226 – 227; 232

Blood (ibid) also notes the inevitable shift in status of the individual from ‘consumer’ to ‘creator’, thus undermining the type of information control exerted by authorities over artists in the past. Therefore, it is significant to acknowledge the relative empowering nature of blogs which allows individuals to express freely their ideas and to publish them on a worldwide stage

Jorn Barger: 1953 -

Murray, L. and Hourigan, T. (2008) Blogs for specific purposes: Expressivist or socio-cognitivist approach? European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning 20:1, 83

slide7

Expressivist Framework (1)

Expressivism promotes and encourages a sense of fluency in the writtenoutput and supports the development of the writer’s distinctive ‘creative voice’. This isregarded as a necessary means to develop and refine one’s writing skills, placing the emphasis on aspects such as self-exploration and discovery

Berlin, J. A. (1988) Rhetoric and Ideology in the Writing Class. College English, 50:5,484

The blogs in this sample share a common purpose: to express the author's subjective, often intimate perspective on matters of interest to him or her. In thecase of most blogs, the matters of interest concern the authors and their daily lives.

Herring, S.C. Scheidt, L-A, Bonus, S. and Wright, E. (2004) Bridging the Gap: A Genre Analysis of Weblogs. Proceedings of the 37th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences: 1

  • Blogs are as individual as the people who keep them. However, most bloggers areprimarily interested in creative, personal expression – documenting individualexperiences, sharing practical knowledge, or just keeping in touch with friends and family.
  • Lenhart, A. and Fox, S. (2006) Bloggers: A Portrait of the Internet’s New Storytellers Report forPew Internet and American Life Project, 19 July. http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/186/report display.asp
slide9

(Socio) cognitivistframework

Problem-solving approach

Highlights the importance of developing higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills.

Collective dissemination of knowledge

Peer discussion

Collaborative processing and application of data

Single publication comprising plurality of authors

Murray, L. and Hourigan, T. (2008) Blogs for specific purposes: Expressivist or socio-cognitivist approach? European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning 20 (1): 87

slide10

The Community of Inquiry Model of Blog Research

Social presence in online learning:the ability of learners to express themselves bothsocially and emotionallythrough:

open communication

emotional expression

  • group cohesion
  • Cognitive presence in educational blogging: the extent to which learners are able to construct andconfirm meaning through:
  • discourse
  • sustained reflection
  • content sharing
  • Four phases
  • triggering (initiation ofcritical inquiry)
  • exploration (brainstorming, questioningand exchange of information)
  • integration ofideas to connect and describe the issue or problem underconsideration
  • resolution to further problems and new triggering events causing the process to start over
  • Teaching presence
  • Conceptualizedthrough indicators describing activities related to:
  • instructional design and organization
  • facilitating discourse
  • direct instruction
  • Shared responsibility between teachers and students
  • As the course progresses and the students get more familiar with blogging activities, teacher presence is much less tangible while more if not all students increasingly undertake teaching presence roles (Eric DeCorte)
  • Garrison, D.R. & Arbaugh, J.B. (2007) Researching the community of inquiry framework: review, issues and future directions.
  • The Internet and Higher Education 10, 157 - 172
slide11

Producing a weblog on a regular basis can … be time consuming and occasionally boring (if creative juices run dry); a number of weblogs have been orphaned over time as initial enthusiasm for the project waned.

  • Oravec, J-A (2003): Blending by Blogging: weblogs in blended learning initiatives, Journal of Educational Media, 28:2-3, 230
slide13

Blogs will be put to increasingly diverse uses (Herring et al. 2004)

In 2003, bloggers are still fixated with the medium, rather than coming to terms enough with it to utilise it (Oravec 2003)

• Online course management tool: A weekly topic isposted and each student posts her/his thoughts on thetopic, as an assignment by the instructor (Maag 2005;Lin &Yuan 2006).

• Discussion forum: The blog acts as a forum wherestudents discuss, share, and exchange information,thoughts, and ideas related to the course’s subject,lectures, announces, and readings as well (Yang 2009;Deng &Yuen 2010).

• e-Portfolio: The students set up their own blogaccording to the teacher’s assignments and guidelines.Every student posts to the blog his classroomand/or homework writing assignments, tasks, andexercises. In addition, students can share their blogswith peers in their class and receive feedback throughthe comments section of their blog (Carroll et al.2006; Dippold 2009).

• Group blogging: The blog acts more as a collective orcollaborative space than as an individual one (Ladyshewsky& Gardner 2008). The students are dividedinto groups while all students in each group areexpected to contribute consistently to their own groupblog. The various blogs are connected and studentscould also post their comments to the other blogs(Philip & Nicholls 2009).

• Project-based environment: The blog can be used asa collaborative content-sharing space to supportproject-based learning activities (Poling 2005;Angelaina&Jimoyiannis 2009). Through the blog, the studentsshared their reflections, completed a writingproject, and read and commented on other students’posts.

• Research tool: Blogs can constitute a platform forongoing literature review for academic purposes(Mejias 2006). Recently, Paulus and Spence (2010)used blogging conversations as an instructor’s usefulsource of data on students’ understanding and misconceptionsof course topics.

Jimoyiannis, A. & Angelaina, S. (2012) Towards an analysis framework for investigating students’ engagement and learning

in educational blogs. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28 (3): 224

slide14

Enhancing Practice: Recommendations

  • • Offer opportunities to all students to familiarize with the blogging concept and the related principles byshowing examples of good blogs and how people canparticipate

• Design and organize the blog both technically andpedagogically (learning goals, duration and timelineof tasks, scaffolding actions, archives organization,etc.)

• Consistently monitor the class blog, read students’postings and post content information, summariesand alternative views, questions, and triggering newtopics, in order to facilitate discourse

• Encourage all students to debate by identifying thosewith low participation and supporting them both technicallyand cognitively

• Require mandatory writing assignments that must beposted on the class blog to make sure that all studentswill participate

• Describe and determine students’ assessment, basedon their participation and their presence in the blog,as a constitutional dimension of the educational bloggingactivity.

  • Jimoyiannis, A. & Angelaina, S. (2012) Towards an analysis framework for
  • investigating students’ engagement and learning in educational blogs.
  • Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28 (3): 231 - 232

To promote deeper reflection, the instructor needs to guide students through the peer commenting process and offer them strategies for critical thinking to promptin-depth and thoughtful responses

Lee, L. (2010) Fostering reflective writing and interactive exchange

through blogging in an advanced language course.

European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning, 22 (2): 225

slide15

Qualitative Feedback

Using a blog was an extremely useful aspect in order to recap lecture section and encourage interest through [sic] the group. This definitely helped with my understanding and enjoyment of the module and I will miss it next term

Found the blogs were useful in developing a further understanding of the topics discussed in class

It was good but sometimes I found the questions too long and too prescriptive. An open blog on what we covered that week would have been better!

Would be nice to have a blog page so you don’t have to go through each week to find a blog

The blog has also been useful as a tool for revision etc. and looking back on past weeks when working on assignments

The blog is a really good idea as people are much more open to sharing their ideas online and expressing themselves well on line

It was an extremely useful tool to consolidate my knowledge and to communicate my ideas to my fellow classmates. It was also a great way to expand on the lessons with my own ideas and opinions

slide16

Allow students to identify and focus on a chosen theme (would this undermine pedagogic aims of the task?) - currently students have to read entire blog posts to pick out areas within a given topic.

Move to a system that will allow responses to a topic to be collated within one space. A discussion board with a dedicated forum for each week and dedicated thread for each topic, or a blog where the instructor posts the topic and students respond via comments and then use threaded comments to reply to each others responses, could both be suitable ways forward.

As there are usability and functionality pros and cons and potential support and training implications for both approaches it might be worth piloting and evaluating both approaches next year. (Both these solutions could also include e-mail subscription options to alert when new posts have been made)

Allow students opportunity for more open, unguided reflections - what would be the implications of asking them to do this and respond to guided topics?

Revise navigation to situate all discussion in one common area.

Revise navigation to place all weekly session materials in dedicated left hand menu item, removing need for multiple clicks to access content.

Keep with the approach - it is clearly popular and valued.

  • Properly designed blogs can extend students’ learning space beyond the classroom boundaries to home or personal environments, and combine formal, nonformal and informal learning.
  • Jimoyiannis, A. & Angelaina, S. (2012) Towards an analysis framework for
  • investigating students’ engagement and learning in educational blogs.
  • Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28 (3): 231
slide17

Areas for Further Research

Enriching ourknowledge regarding the instructional design and theinvestigation context of blogs

Teaching presence in blog-based communities oflearning

Scaffolding strategies forpeer feedback, ideas presenting, reflective thinking

  • Balance between blogs’ structure(instructor-directed dialogue) and students’ autonomy(student-directed dialogue)
  • Jimoyiannis, A. & Angelaina, S. (2012) Towards an analysis framework for investigating students’ engagement and learning in educational blogs. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28:3, 232

Teachers’ different roles in blogging projects and their possibly different effects on both students’ writing products and students’ perceptions towards blogging as a means of learning to write

Pressure of audience and writer’s consciousness of audience (Oravec 2003)

Sun, Y-C (2010) Extensive writing in a foreign-language classroom: a blogging approach. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 47:3, 338

slide18

Further studies regarding the pressure of the audience and the writer’s consciousness of the audience will be needed

Students’ choice of topics

Avoidance behaviour

Concerns about the audience

Self-disclosure

Sun, Y-C (2010) Extensive writing in a foreign-language classroom: a blogging approach.

Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 47:3, 338

slide19

Which of the four poems I have asked you to look at for next Monday really struck a chord with you in terms of what it had to say about literacy and identity?

I personally found the leonard poem really interesting, and also quite revealing in terms of how we read language, standard or otherwise. At a glance the text just looked like complete nonsense, but when I started to read the text something just seemed to click and I then realised the author was Scottish. This made me think about the idea that reading and speaking the 'Queen's English@ is not necessarily the only thing that enhances our literacy. I have personally met Scottish people and have heard them speak on TV, and due to these encounters I was able to decipher the poem with relative ease. However, i think interpretation might not have been so simple for someone who's second language is English rather than their first, as they are less likely to be familiar with the many different dialects in Great Britain.

slide20

Describe a 'service encounter' you have experienced where you felt the text (it could be oral, verbal, written or multi-modal) tried to position you in a way that you felt you needed to resist. Did you employ 'carnival' techniques to do so?

In a foodie genre there is almost a constant pressure to eat either the ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ foods, from people on both sides of the health food debates. I saw this interesting multi-modal picture recently: (see the attached image from http://abcnews.go.com/meta/search/imageDetail?format=plain&source=http://abcnews.go.com/images/Health/ht_burger_king_diabetes_billboard_ll_111021)

Where someone has graffitied a Burger King advert in America. Interestingly this adds a kind of paradox to my response to the text. The advert in the first place shows images of deserts and junk food which attempt to recruit me to go to burger king and buy them. One effect of showing images of food to the audience is to make them hungry. This definitely works for me, however, this is where my ‘carnival’ response kicks in: in opposition to the lent/shrove Tuesday example we considered in class, my response to seeing junk food like that on the billboard is to want to find something healthy and nutritious and far more delicious to eat, both because it’s more satisfying and to prove Burger King wrong! Also I have so many negative associations with junk food that my immediate response to an advert like this is negative. Then there is the graffiti person’s response to consider… interestingly, they seem to have had a similarly negative reaction to mine, but their active response is very different. Then on top of this is the fact that the edited advert has been posted onto the internet and shared globally, which adds yet another dimension. It’s almost as though the initial advert has completely backfired as a result of people’s use of Bakhtin’s carnival idea. Then again, perhaps this was the initial intention of Burger King. After all, so many more people have seen this now than would have done otherwise, perhaps they used carnival themselves. Oh, the conspiracy!