Blog is short for Web log. What is a blog? A blog can be many things, but at its core is form of micro-publishing that allows the author to post informational content in a reverse chronological order for reading by others (Dabbagh, 2004).
In an educational environment, blogs are generally used to convey information related to the content of the course. In this capacity, a blog can serve three purposes (Hicks, 2013):
- It can increase student interaction with the material
- It can increase student interaction with one another
- It can increase student interaction with the instructor
One use of blogs in the classroom is to require students to post blog entries on the material prior to discussing the material in class. Requiring blog posts not only forces the students to familiarize themselves with the material prior to class, but it requires that the students apply critical thinking skills as well. Student blogs also have the added benefit of allowing the instructor to have an idea of what the students’ thoughts about the material are before the in-class session.
Secondly, by requiring students to reply to each other’s an instructor can promote interaction amongst the class. This has two benefits. First, it offers the students an opportunity to view the material from different perspectives. This promotes a greater understanding of the material. Secondly, when guided by the instructor, it promotes proper internet etiquette. As more and more business and social interaction occurs online, this is an important life skill.
Lastly, blogging increases the contact between the students and the instructor. Instructors have an opportunity to get an idea of how the class is interrupting the material. The instructor can then provide timely feedback outside of normal class times. An additional benefit is that student posts may prompt the instructor to provide additional learning material on subjects related to the material.
The most common method for using blogs in a classroom is for the instructor to provide a prompt and have the students respond with a blog post on their individual blogs. The students are then usually required to comment on a set number of their classmates’ blogs. While this can be time consuming for the instructor, they have to read and respond to all the blog posts, this method can promote a deeper understanding of classroom materials.
Getting started with blogging is relatively easy. Some learning management systems have blogging as a feature. If your does not, the instructor should choose a medium, such as WordPress, to host the class blogs. They then have the students create their individual blogs. Expectations and etiquette rules should be laid out ahead of time.
One further benefit of blogs is that they are not limited to the written word. Blog authors can embed video or images to enhance their post. They can also include links to other information. This allows that blog to serve more as a multi-media platform and can appeal to learners that are put off by long blocks of text.
Blogs can be very powerful tools for the promotion of a deeper understanding of course material, interaction between students, and interaction with the instructor. However, they can be very time intensive for both student and instructor. To combat this, blogs should be used judiciously and topics should be constrained to the topic at hand.
For more information check out the following:
Using Blogs in an Online Class as a Learning Tool by Sher Ratnabalasuriar – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOsKtPKTKAw
Using Blogging as a Learning Tool from Johns Hopkins University – http://ii.library.jhu.edu/2013/11/27/using-blogging-as-a-learning-tool/
Dabbagh, N. (2004). Using Blogs as a Teaching and Learning Tool. Retrieved from: http://mason.gmu.edu/~ndabbagh/using-blogs.ppt.
Hicks, K. (2013). The Benefits of Blogging as a Learning Tool, Part 1. Retrieved from: http://gettingsmart.com/2013/12/benefits-blogging-learning-tool-part-1/.