Thursday, August 9, 2007

Online discussion Versus The Blog

Is there anything that online discussion does better than blogs can do in teaching and learning?

Blogs are personal, learner focused tools that are designed for learner directed and orchestrated activity. A blogger has the ability to determine subject matter, customize design, organize content, edit current and past work, and delete unwelcome comments from the blog space at will. Blogs can simultaneously be focused on the educational application, while still retaining the self-directed, internal focus of the owner. For example, the blog enhances social presence by exposing the learner’s affective response through the self disclosure evident in the earlier, perhaps unrelated postings, the links and the graphics they chose to exhibit on their blogs (Anderson & Cameron, 2006).

I find the blog a good tool for management and promoting ideas, it can also give each person their ‘personal space’ but I don’t find it an engaging tool to teach with (as a communication tool).

It is good as a journal, as discussing an idea or promoting services/products but not for learning or teaching with as I find it abit slow based . I think the virtual class/Java script, Skype, Msn or even discussion forum is a better way to learn online as it is a faster stimulant.

Personally doing projects in teamwork, I have used social software as Msn and Skype to communicate and share ideas. The blog doesn’t stimulate as much discussion and the posts seem like a guest book for comments rather than a brainstorm of ideas branching from one topic and further establishing.

Ferdig and Trammell (2004) discuss the public nature of educational blogging and argue that, “blogging opens up assignments beyond the teacher-student relationship, allowing the world to grade students and provide encouragement or feedback on their writings.” The infinite potential for comment on their work can be at once intimidating and encouraging for learners and will have implications for how learners want to be perceived by this larger audience. Widening of the audience obviously affects the potential for developing identity but could also result in exchanges that may negatively impact learner confidence as their words are released to anyone on the open Net.

Will Richardson (2004) asks the question, “Could blogging be the needle that sews together what is now a lot of learning in isolation with no real connection among the disciplines?” and suggests that blogging has the potential to teach learners “how” to learn. Stephen Downes(2004) argues that “despite obvious appearances, blogging isn’t really about writing at all; that’s just the end point of the process, the outcome that occurs more or less naturally if everything else has been done right. Blogging is about, first, reading. But more important, it is about reading what is of interest to you: your culture, your community, your ideas” (Downes, 2004).

Do you think you would atempt to use blogging as a teaching tool or would you use another tool more adapted to your learning style?


Anderson, T. & Cameron, D. (2006) Comparing Weblogs to Threaded Discussion Tools in Online Educational Contexts. The Journal.

Ferdig, R. & Trammell, K.D. (2004) Content delivery in the blogosphere. The Journal.
Downes, S. (2004) Educational Blogging. EDUCAUSE Review.
Richardson, W. (2004) Reading and blogging. Weblogg-Ed.


unimelb said...

Wow good set of issues here.

As to the final question "Do you think you would atempt to use blogging as a teaching tool or would you use another tool more adapted to your learning style? "

The cop-out answer is going to be - it depends.

I actually think this environment is not just good for learning as I think you have made a good case for, with good quotes, but it does appeal to me as a teaching environment too. I do not want to trip my self up too much here - because I also believe, as I think you do judging from your comments about Galileo in your first post, that teaching really is about getting others to learn - therefore is something is a good learning tool it is also a good teaching tool.

See I have already tripped myself up.

If we were just going on my own personal preference for style I would probably shift to a more visual or audio based environment - again tripping up here I like blogs and I think they are useful but the addons like podcsts and links to videos are what really attracts me to any environment as a preference. That is as a preference not based on a solid set of references.

Overall though staying with the idea of blogs I reckon the personalised nature of the environment is the big plus for learning in them no matter what they contain and the preference thing is related to what it is that is being taught or learned - if video or audio makes the material more digestible, personable, interesting motivating, etc I would go with those things. Just my opinion though willing to hear other views on preferences for blogs as spaces for teaching (I am saying they are spaces for teaching but maybe someone else has some ideas on how this might happen)

JennyR said...

Hi Ragdha's
Tend to agree with so far in response to your comments.

"I don’t find it an engaging tool to teach with (as a communication tool).

The blog doesn’t stimulate as much discussion and the posts seem like a guest book for comments rather than a brainstorm of ideas branching from one topic and further establishing."

Can see benefits as well. Look forward to trialling blogging more.

amina said...

Nice Raghda,
I'm a bit busy now, I would love to browse through this site later on. Seems interesting and closely related to what we done in uni last semester.

Samuel Wright said...

Wow Raggy, very comphrensive. I too loved the quotes. In alot of these cases as we become more and more digital refugees. We (I) will pick up the skills and as we/I go along work out how to use this medium within the classroom. Blogs do have a 'Myspace' feel about it rather than the lateral brainstorming of a discussion environment.

Blogs also tend to create a 'guru' mentality. Meaning I will appraoch/subscribe to a site if I like that person or thier ideas. That I believe places alot of emphasis on the individual rather than the content . Another area where the online discussion had less of a tendancy.

Taking all this into account I will be reading with interest the rest of you stuff.

Keep up the good work



Raghda said...

Thanks everyone for your comments so far.

It is great to see your view points on discussion issues being raised, as by doing this it expands my horizons on online learning. Keep them coming and well done.

Chris Gregory said...

I think that blogs can have a place as a teaching/learning tool. They allow for publication by students to a wide audience that they may otherwise not be able to reach. However personally I would prefer students to publish collaboratively on a wiki so that each member of a team can contribute independently of each other. I like these online publishing tools because they can keep students & schools & parents up to date on student work and expectations of such.

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Galileo once said, "You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him find it within himself."

As an educator, I believe the mission of education is to provide all students with an educational enviornment. Technology is a great way to teach students and to reinforce what they have already learnt. I believe that technology can be useful to both educators and students, by providing millions of resources at our fingertips.

I have decided to a create a blog, because I believe blogs are designed to cater for everyone and in addition serve people in different ways. It has a structure which is flexible, you are able to communicate, share images, add a personal profile and promote ideas. I think it is a good management tool to be able to manage my thoughts.

What do you think of blogs? Would you use it as a management tool? Would you use it to communicate? Please share your thoughts.