What is a blog?
A blog (an abbreviation for web log) is a simple web-publishing tool that allows users to make entries to a web page that are displayed in date order. These entries, known as posts, are made up of textual content with weblinks, and they can combine pictures, video and audio.
You can allow students to participate in blogs in three ways:
- Course blogs: You can create a course blog and choose the topic. All course members can add blog entries and leave comments underneath blog entries.
- Individual blogs: Students can add entries only to their own blogs. All other course members can view and add comments to it.
- Group blogs: A custom group of students can be given authorship over a shared blog. All course members can view and comment on group blogs.
Why would you use a blog?
As a simple, quick and effective means of web publishing, blogs provide an immediate and personal perspective from the author/s. Interaction is provided by the ability of a reader of a blog to leave comments on a post in response to what has been written, and/or reply comments of other readers. In this way, a dialogue between the blog author/s and the readership can be built up. This dynamic and informal approach to publishing content distinguishes blogs from static websites.
Blogs have been integrated into courses and modules as part of ‘blended’ learning approaches and adopted as modes of assessment. A body of published research by writers such as Downes (2004) and Windham (2007) has highlighted the role of blogs in:
- Developing skills in personal reflection and critical thinking
- Encouraging the process of ideas development
- Fostering discussion through published content
- Building a sense of community and identity
- Information sharing and issuing news
- Recording events and capturing activity.
There are many educational advantages of blogging. For students:
- The opportunity for more reticent students to engage in discussion outside of the classroom
- Increasing the opportunities for writing practice and the overall level of discussion and communication between students
- Giving the individual student a chance for self-expression
- Building a structured forum for debate and commentary over a period of time
- Bridging the gap between classroom activity and later reflection
- Enabling students to formulate thoughts and opinions in preparation for face-to-face lessons
- Providing the ability to more easily incorporate different media such as video and pictures.
- Identifying students’ understanding of topics and concepts in readiness for face-to-face lessons
- Monitoring postings as a mechanism for identifying when students are struggling at an early stage in a course.
Assessment and feedback:
- Providing a record of contributions and discussion for revision or future reference
- The facilitation of peer feedback, where students are able to comment on each other’s work
- Blogs can be linked to the Grade Centre, and feature online marking/feedback tools.
How to get started
Alternatively, if you would like to speak to one of the TEL advisors in CQSD about using wikis in your teaching, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a summary of your query to request a TEL 1-2-1 Consultation.
We also run a periodic staff development session called Create Learning Activities Using Blogs, Wikis, Journals and Discussion Boards. Part of this session covers the pedagogical uses of blogs and how to use them.
Read about and listen to Dr Chloe Houston (English Literature) discussing how she has successfully used blogs as an assessed activity in one of her undergraduate modules with positive feedback from her students.
Alternatively, the adoption of Salmon’s (2004) e-moderating 5 stage model can help in the design of a blog-based learning/assessment activity and in understanding the facilitation of this by the tutor. (Summary of the 5 stage model available at https://www.gillysalmon.com/e-moderating.html.)
Please note: The introduction of blogging as a learning activity needs to be managed in order to be successful. It is important for you as a tutor to consider how the features of a blog can best be matched to appropriate learning/assessment activities and that blogging is made an integral part of the course and not supplementary.
JISC (2009), ‘Engaging students in critical reflection, University of Edinburgh’ [online], JISC, available at http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/programmes/elearningpedagogy/engaginglearners.doc (Accessed 11 January 2019).