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Using Blogs in Online Education


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Invited online presentation for Alberta Distance Education and Training Association (ADETA) on some possible pedagogical uses of blogs, presented February 2005

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Using Blogs in Online Education

  1. 1. Blogging in Online Education: Opportunities and Challenges Presentation for ADETA January 27, 2005 Scott Leslie
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>What Blogging Is </li></ul><ul><li>What Blogging Isn’t </li></ul><ul><li>Matrix of Blogging in Education </li></ul><ul><li>Examples </li></ul><ul><li>Cautions </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Quick Survey <ul><li>How many of you have heard of blogs/blogging before? </li></ul><ul><li>… regularly read a blog? </li></ul><ul><li>… write a blog? </li></ul><ul><li>… use one in your online classes? </li></ul><ul><li>… use an RSS Reader/Aggregator? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Blogs vs. Blogging <ul><li>‘Blogs’ as a thing – a personal, chronologically ordered set of entries, each having a title, description and unique URL, in a web-based ‘log’ or journal. </li></ul><ul><li>VS. </li></ul><ul><li>‘Blogging’ as an activity - both a use of technologies, but more importantly, a form of writing AND reading on the network </li></ul>
  5. 5. So why all the fuss?
  6. 6. Blogs represent… <ul><li>first simple personal web-based publishing tools to be widely adopted </li></ul><ul><li>first set of tools supporting simple creation of XML-based content (e.g. content separate from its presentation which can be displayed many places) </li></ul><ul><li>creation of a set of practices and conventions around a new form of social ‘network writing’ that includes both the reading and writing </li></ul>
  7. 7. … simple personal publishing tools <ul><li>First blogs (c. 1997) were HTML pages generated with whatever webpage editor that was at hand </li></ul><ul><li>Emerged as a force with the advent of a number of web-based services and applications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogger, LiveJournal, MoveableType </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Their explosion in late 2002/early 2003 coincided (and partly brought on) a groundswell of interest in ‘social software’ and services focused on individuals located within a network </li></ul>
  8. 9. … simple creation of XML content <ul><li>While you can read blogs with a web browser, many people do not access them this way </li></ul><ul><li>Instead they have the highlights of many blogs pushed to them in the form of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) an XML format for synopsizing latest changes to a website </li></ul>
  9. 10. RSS Continued <ul><li>Reading RSS feeds in an ‘aggregator’ or ‘feed reader’ means that instead of having to visit every website each day to see what has changed, you can visit one place and see only what has changed since you last visited for all the blogs you read at once! </li></ul><ul><li>This efficiency means people can monitor hundreds of sources regularly without becoming overwhelmed </li></ul>
  10. 11. Examples of Blogging Software Outputs HTML/Blog + + RSS/XML ? Other Locations
  11. 12. … blogging practices and conventions <ul><li>‘ Blogrolls’ and references in posts as means to creating connections and virtual conversations, acknowledging who you read </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Trackbacks’ – automated means for notifying another blog when you have referenced them </li></ul><ul><li>As ‘web pages representing people’ blogs are googleable </li></ul><ul><li>Advent of sites like Technorati, Feedster have helped increase one’s sense of place within larger conversational space </li></ul>
  12. 13. What Blogging Isn’t <ul><li>While a virtual space of conversation ‘emerges’ from the collection of blogs, blogging is NOT a replacement for threaded discussion or mailing lists </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They represent an improved means to establish personal ‘voice’ and identity on the network, but a diminished means of having a focused ‘back and forth’ discussion </li></ul></ul>
  13. 14. What Blogging Isn’t (2) <ul><li>Blogs/Blogging are not a replacement for CMS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The purposely lack things lack assessment tools and user tracking </li></ul></ul><ul><li>They represent instead one lightweight tool that, alongside a myriad other lightweight tools, could provide an attractive alternative to ‘heavyweight’/ ‘bundled’ CMS </li></ul>
  14. 15. Matrix of Blog Uses in Education <ul><li>Originally developed for a BC-wide online workshop on the uses of blogging in education </li></ul><ul><li>Looked at blogs from the perspective of both reading/aggregating them and writing them </li></ul><ul><li>Also from the perspective of Student as author/audience and Instructor as author/audience </li></ul>
  16. 17. Instructors as Blog Authors <ul><li>Personal focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal Journal/KM Tool </li></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ Classroom’ focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Announcements’ blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Instructional Tips for Students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Annotated Links for Class </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Internet-wide focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Discipline-specific blog as ‘professional practice,’ networking, online publishing </li></ul></ul>
  17. 18. Instructors as Blog Readers <ul><li>Personal Focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal Journal/KM Tool </li></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ Classroom’ Focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Student’s blogs as part of coursework </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional blogs/RSS feeds </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Internet-wide Focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ed tech/pedagogical blogs as part of professional practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discipline-specific Blogs to keep abreast of field </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RSS Feeds from LORs to gather new teaching materials </li></ul></ul>
  18. 19. Students as Blog Authors <ul><li>Personal Focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal Journal / Knowledge Management Tool </li></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ Classroom’ Focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Course-based Journals for Assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>As a group discussion tool </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Internet-wide Focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As a ‘eportfolio’ tool for both institution-wide and internet-wide publication </li></ul></ul>
  19. 20. Students as Blog Readers <ul><li>Personal Focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Own Journal/KM Tool </li></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ Classroom’ Focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Instructor’s Announcements or Content Blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other Students’ blogs (both course and non-course uses) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Internet-wide Focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Discipline-specific feeds as coursework </li></ul></ul>
  20. 21. Instructor Blogs Examples <ul><li>‘ Annotated Links’ blog </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bruce Landon’s Cognitive Psychology links blog </li></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ Administrative Announcements’ blog </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Jim Sentence’s Economics 102C. 203 and 312/462 Announcements </li></ul></ul>
  21. 22. Instructor Blogs Examples <ul><li>As Discipline-Specific Professional Practice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>UBC Botanical Gardens Botany Blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>EconLog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Elearnspace </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Professors who blog” list </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 23. Instructor Blog Examples <ul><li>As full course delivery mechanism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>David Wiley’s Understanding Online Interaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>see also student’s blogs cf. </li></ul></ul>
  23. 24. Student Blog Examples <ul><li>Blogs as Personal Journal and Student-to-Student Communication Space </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Random Thoughts by Joe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>cf. his ‘list of other journals he reads’ to see the informal student ‘network’ he participates in </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Michael’s Economics Blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http:// /econ/ </li></ul></ul></ul>
  24. 25. Student Blog Examples <ul><li>as ePortfolio </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  25. 26. Institution-wide Blogging Examples <ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http:// /weblogs/home/ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>UPEI </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http:// / </li></ul></ul><ul><li>U Minnesota Libraries </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>University of Warwick </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http:// / </li></ul></ul>
  26. 27. Cautions <ul><li>While there has been plenty of hype, there are still few great examples of the use of blogs in online education </li></ul><ul><li>May well be that, as they are very much involved with writing , they may well lend themselves better to certain disciplines then others </li></ul>
  27. 28. Cautions (2) <ul><li>Blogs in their ‘pure’ form represent a challenge to the ‘closed’ model of the online classroom </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This can be addressed by choosing to implement blog hosting software on campus that provides an authenticated environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Downside of loosing the serendipitous connections with others that blogs in the open promote; continues the quarantining of one’s online educational life from one’s life online </li></ul></ul>
  28. 29. Cautions (3) <ul><li>Easy to confuse the technological manifestations with the important lessons they are revealing </li></ul><ul><li>The true power of blogs have been </li></ul><ul><ul><li>to liberate personal publishing, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to enable indvidual voice but </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to do so in a networked environment in which the conversation ‘ emerges ’ organically rather than being confined by a pre-existing virtual space </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to bring together one’s personal, professional and classroom work around a single set of technologies </li></ul></ul>
  29. 30. Discussion <ul><li>Questions? </li></ul><ul><li>Potential topics for discussion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What do you think the major hurdle to using blogs in your online practice is? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How would you get started? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What other uses for blogs can you imagine? </li></ul></ul>
  30. 31. Thanks! <ul><li>Feel free to contact me with questions at [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>or at my home on the web EdTechPost </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>