Teaching Experiment: Allocating Marks for using Blogs

Knowing that blogging is making headway in the general worldwide community and in business I decided to attempt to introduce blog use into my teaching. In semester 062 in two subjects (INFT215 .NET Programming Environment and INFT338/331 Web Applications Development) I allocated 5% of the marks for blog use during the semester. The small number of students in INFT338 were all enrolled in INFT215 as well. I attempted to make a case for the benefits for blogging in the assessment sheet.

blog-titles

With no blogging server yet available at Bond I decided to use public blogging engines of the students choice. 3 or 4 students already had their own blogs, mainly as a result of their previous work experience in the IT industry. The students were asked to email me the blog link and the feed link to their public blogs by week 2 of the semester. They then started to populate their blogs with a minimum of 20 postings for each student expected over the semester.

Over the semester the 16 students submitted 278 blog entries in total which falls short of the 320 required. They obviously found it a more difficult exercise than I anticipated.

However, there were some excellent blogs. I show the blog titles of one student on the right in reverse chronological order as presented by the blog itself. I taught this student on two of my subjects so he needed 40 blog entries. Notice that in entry 2 (the 41st entry) he celebrates by boasting that he is continuing to blog even though he has reached his assessment limit!

It is fascinating to read his range of blog entry topics. They encompass academic study (3, 10, 12, 26, 28, 32, 40 and 42), assessment and exams (9, 13, 24, 35 and?36), lifestyle (4, 6, 11, 16, 22, 23, 25, 37 and 38), technology (5, 8, 19, 21, 29 and 30), and other people and their blogs (14, 15 and 31). This impressed me and also gives an insight into his way of living and attitude to life. I think he too will find these blog entries a valuable aide memoir into a few months of his past.

In an end-of-semester survey?one question was “I thought the marks allocated to creating and using my public blog were beneficial to my learning”. The Strongly Agree/Agree versus Strongly Disagree/Disagree ratio was 3 to 6. Thus a majority of students felt that blogs did not enhance their learning. Most found composing a paragraph or two of text a struggle, possibly a typical reaction of IT students in general.

Another question was “Comment on the good points and bad points of being marked for using the discussion board and my blog”. The complete comments that relate to the blogging exercise were:

  • blogs are great way to structure your thoughts
  • Blogging on the other hand was just a burden to me… Not really helpful. So I never enjoyed it and didn’t take much out of it. Still, with corporate blogging to come, it might be a good thing
  • My blog were just a wast of time for me, since the log I kept mainly covered what we did in class, and that can be read off the content site. Since everybody had so many entries, I necer read others blogs, occupied by filling up my own.
  • Good points are it forces you to actually acknowledge whether you did work this week. As if you were lazy, it would definetly become obvious while reflecting upon the blog post for the week. The bad points are that I did 2 subjects with blogs so I needed to write 4 entries a week!
  • …the blogs were a bit of a pain because i had to do them all at once…but i think that they would be useful doing them properly, a good way to revise wat u have learnt
  • The blog makes absolutely no sense to me at all because you do not gain anything from it. Maybe to write in english :-). I didn’t find the blog useful and as such have not really used it. Although i will have to as this counts for 5%.
  • Blog was useless, i thought.

I had suggested one type of blog entry could be the topics learned each week and any problems encountered. As will be seen from the above most students took this a little too literally and it became a less than useful regurgitation exercise. There were definitely more negative comments than expected.

A couple of positive comments, some good blogging examples and the recognition that corporate blogging will likely be expected in the future make me want to persevere with this experiment into at least another semester. I will definitely need to make a better case for blogging as a support for learning. As well I need to give more examples of useful blog entry content. In addition, I need to set a useful learning task each week to be reported as a blog entry so that the blog contains relevant information.

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About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

2 Responses to Teaching Experiment: Allocating Marks for using Blogs

  1. Pingback: Impressions Scholarcast » Blogging for teaching - paper summary

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