Blogging for teaching – paper summary

Emma Somogyi sent a link to an excellent paper on the use of student blogs in a higher ed class. (Ref: Jeremy B Williams & Joanne Jacobs, “Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector”, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 2004, 20(2), 232-247.)

This paper starts with an excellent, brief history and description of blogging, with good early sources, and how it relates to wikis. Oravec is quoted for “encouraging personal reflection” and suiting  “students’ ‘unique voices’, empowering them, and encouraging them to become more critically analytical in their thinking”. These are the concepts that led me to experiment with student blogs. As an appendix there is a useful annotated list of other key sources, although a couple of years old.

Williams and Jacobs point out that blogging has been regarded as a grassroots phenomenon that might be looked down upon by academics. However they and I feel there is merit in using student blogging as part of an academic subject. They introduced an optional blogging exercise in an MBA subject where the student were asked to contribute 5 blog entries over 6 weeks. About 50% of their students paritcipated and they show the results of an end-of-class questionnaire. The students gave a positive response overall. However the authors conclude that “results would likely have been more positive had there been greater direction at the beginning of the project as to how one went about blogging, and what students could expect to get out of it”. This mirrors my own experience in semester 062 that I reported in an earlier blog entry. I believe I corrected this for the my semester 063 blogging exercise which I hope to report on early in the 2007.


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

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