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Sunday, October 01, 2006

An Educational use of a Blog - Example 1: The Course Blog

I've started to browse blogger.com to see what people are doing with blogs. I came across this blog English 120.

This blog is being used to administer a module (course). I have not looked into it too deeply, but it has struck an instant chord with me, as this is one way that i have envisaged that blogs can be used in an educational context to improve the communication and collaboration of a teacher, administrators and groups of learners.

I think with the easy use of templates, internet access 24/7, and a perhaps a modest extra knowledge of html blogs could be potentially be the quickest, easiest and most simplest way to improve communication and enhance a feeling of "community" amongst adult distance learners (or campus based students for that matter).

There will obviously be adjustment issues on the side of the educationalist on how they deliver and respond to working in this new medium, but i think students will love it! positives that spring to mind are:

1. Problems cannot be swept under the carpet - It should force concerns to be addressed quicker.
2. Email notifications keep students up to date and informed of what is going on.
3. It seems an easy system to me, thus promoting "community spirit", leading to help, support and sharing of resources.

Whether all this positives sit comfortably with all parties on the educational side of the fence i am not so sure. Using Blogs in this manner may force a change in attitudes, culture and working practice. Anyway these are all things to ponder more seriously at another date.

If any DMU Colleagues wish to explore how blogs can be used in this way, Give me a SHOUT - If i can help i will endeavour to do so.

4 comments:

Hally said...

on English 120 what did you like and why? how do you think this use of blogs can be integrated into Adult Distance Learning?

molvaniamark said...

I was wondering what you thought about the 2 things you highlighted about English 120: tool for communication and collaboration. Did it do one better than the other? How important is a "sense of community" to the quality of learning for students? And how does this work anyway?

haven't got any answers but am curious about the individual/collective nexus in learning, about how a group quest for meaning and understanding can impact individuals.

Steve Mackenzie said...

Thnak you molvaniamark for your comments.

Well i think this blog is primarily about communication. It's predominanlty a one way communication and i suppose that this would be the main purpose of the blog. However there is nothing to stop the blog being set up to encourage a more two way communication.

The collaboration on reflection would be more to do with the teaching and learning side of the course and so therefore would not be the strongest element of this particular style of blog.

The issue of "sense of community" is more important for the adult distance learners than conventional students.

Feeling some connection to fellow classmates and the teacher is important in respect of the emotional and motivational aspects of (distance) learning.

If you belong to a connected, supportive, interested, happy group of distance learners i believe this is a very powerful motivating force that will enhance the quality of learning. A sense of loyalty and duty to the group will drive people to contribute and make the group a success.

A blog of the type "English 120" with its ease of use could be one useful tool in the quest to enhance the experience for online distance learners.

Steve Mackenzie said...

Thank you Hally for your comments.

What i liked about "English 120" was
1. The convergence of communication with resources in one central point.
2. The fact that the postings will be sent directly to group members emails.
3. The fact that this seems to be one of the easier ways to achieve this type of cenralisation of communication, information and resources.

I think this use of blogs can be integrated into Adult Distance Learning by designating a course blog as the communication tool of choice for a particular module. This could be embedded into blackboard or similar VLE should there be any privacy or security issues.

I will comment further on your questions and this issue in my next blog.

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