Blogging is a well-established vehicle for personal reflection and commentary and can play an effective part in the delivery of formal curricula. But blogs and social networking sites also have the potential to engage students and improve the quality of their writing and communication skills. We are seeing good practice emerging where tutors are guiding students on how they can effectively utilise these technologies for their learning.
In an example from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Divinity, a virtual learning environment-based blogging tool has been used to enhance the dynamics of tutorials and seminars and to improve the consistency of students’ engagement with more challenging elements of the curriculum. Following successful trials commencing in 2005, the School of Divinity has used blogging as part of a wider blended learning strategy to develop student skills of critical thinking and reflection.
The detailed case study is a word doc you can download: Engaging learners in critical reflection – University of Edinburgh
What are the advantages? In my experience, group blogging helps to unite a diverse body of students and makes it easier to identify individuals’ difficulties. The quality of discussion on the blogs is often high, with more competent students raising the performance of weaker students, and contributions made as part of these discussions can later become aids for revision. The time involved in monitoring blogs has not proved excessive – in fact the blogging activity may have reduced the time spent supporting students experiencing difficulties.
What’s your experience of using blogs with students? I would welcome your comments.