Supporting Student Blogging in Higher Education

Supporting Student Blogging in Higher Education

Lucinda Kerawalla (The Open University, UK), Shailey Minocha (The Open University, UK), Gill Kirkup (The Open University, UK) and Gráinne Conole (The Open University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-208-4.ch016
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Abstract

With a variety of asynchronous communication and collaboration tools and environments such as Wikis, blogs, and forums, it can be increasingly difficult for educators to make appropriate choices about when and how to use these technologies. In this chapter, the authors report on the findings from a research programme on educational blogging which investigated the blogging activities of different groups of Higher Education students: undergraduate and Masters-level distance learners, and PhD students. The authors discuss empirical evidence of students’ experiences, perceptions, and expectations of blogging. We provide an empirically-grounded framework which can guide course designers and educators in their decision-making about whether and how to include blogging in their course-contexts so as to create value and to generate a positive student experience. Also, this framework can help guide students who are either thinking about blogging for themselves, or who are undertaking course-directed blogging activities.
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Introduction

Blogging started in the form of Web pages or Websites through which people informed one another about other Websites or Web pages through links and comments. Tim Berners-Lee in 1992 created the first ‘What’s new’ page; later Marc Andreessen set up a similar page with links to new Web pages that were coming up on the Internet. Justin Hall started a filter log in 1994 which was effectively pages with recommended links for others surfing on the internet. In December 1997, the term ‘Weblog’ for ‘logging the Web’ was coined by Jorn Barger. From these link-driven sites, a community arose, and in 1999 the Websites Blogger and Pitas offered a simpler way to creating a Weblog without having to know HTML. Soon Web-log or we-blog was shortened to ‘blog’ by the programmer Peter Merholz and blogs evolved into personal journals or diaries. For a history of blogging from its origins and until 2000, please see Blood (2006).

With free blog-creation services, it was now possible for anyone to publish both events and opinions without the mediation (or cost) of professional media. Blogging moved into wider public consciousness when independent eyewitness reports in the form of a Web diary on the invasion of Iraq by the ‘Baghdad Blogger’ (Salam, 2003) were read and republished in print newspapers (e.g. the Guardian in the UK). Blogging activity has expanded and journalists now engage in blogging alongside the more traditional forms of journalism. It is now possible to set up a commercial blogging-organisation. For example ‘BlogHer’ (retrieved on 19th March 2008 from http://www.blogher.org/about-blogher-0) exists as a network for US homemakers, which is funded by venture capital and it accepts advertising, thereby providing employment for its originators.

Blogging has become another genre of text, and bloggers range from the amateur diary keeper, with no audience except for family, to commercial business blogs (Bruns and Jacobs, 2006, Nardi et al. 2004). In 2006, a US telephone survey reported that 8% of US adult internet users kept a blog and nearly 40% reported reading one. More than half saw the activity as a form of self-expression and were not concerned about whether others read their blog, while about one third felt that they were engaged in some form of ‘journalism’ and wrote for others to read (Lenhart and Fox, 2006). Businesses are seeing the huge potential of the conversational nature of blogging and have begun to adapt it for marketing, advertising, and even as a recruiting tool (Scobel & Israel, 2006). It is within this context that educational use of blogging is developing, and it’s not clear how educational blogging is being perceived by students who would have been exposed to different genres of blogging. It is against this backdrop that we have carried out a research programme in educational blogging which we report in this chapter.

Previous researchers have attempted to define different types of blogs, such as a ‘personal journal’ or a ‘filter blog’ (Herring et al., 2004) both of which may, at first glance, support learning. However, these descriptions seem to focus on the end product (i.e., the blog), rather than on the activity of blogging. In this way, the virtues of blogging are reduced to what ends up on the blog, to the detriment of considering the activities involved in creating and posting material to the blog. This approach also fails to recognise whether, how, and why blogging in a public online space is of benefit to the blogger.

Boyd (2006) defines blogging as “a diverse set of practices that result in the production of diverse content on top of what we call blogs” (p1), which suggests that ‘blogs’ and ‘blogging’ can mean different things to different people. This suggests that blogging software can be used for an infinite number of activities, and raises the question of how educators a) can exploit the potential of blogging and the available software for blogging; and b) encourage their students to participate in blogging.

Research into blogging in Higher Education has reported mixed success, with some studies suggesting that blogging can support learning (e.g. Du and Wagner 2007), and other authors offering words of caution about issues such as low levels of student engagement with the educator-suggested blogging activities (e.g. Williams and Jacobs, 2004). Problems are, perhaps, unsurprising given that, although the technology itself is relatively simple to use, its potential role to support learning is not fully understood. We discuss this and other challenges in the following section.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Blog Post: The term ‘post’ can be a verb or a noun. Noun: entries to a blog are called ‘posts’. Posts are usually in reverse chronological (date) order, with the most recent appearing first.?Verb: a blogger ‘posts’ material to their blog.

Blog: Weblog or blog is a Web publishing tool. Functionality of different blogging software varies but, generally, blog entries or posts may include a variety of materials including text, video files, sound files, photographs or screen shots, and URLs/hyperlinks to other Web pages or blogs. Readers can leave comments for the blogger(s) (i.e. the person(s) who own the blog). Access to blogs can be controlled by the blogger(s) so that, for example, it may be accessible to the world, or to a small group of friends, or it may be private and visible to the blogger(s) only.

Reflection: It is the re-examination and re-interpretation of one’s experiences. It is introspective contemplation of the contents or qualities of one’s own thoughts or experiences. Experience on its own does not guarantee learning. It is the product of reflecting on that experience that helps to acquire deeper insights.

Distance Education: The delivery of education to students who are not physically on site. Students do not attend courses in person, but teachers and students may communicate through the exchange of printed media (e.g. books or course materials) or electronic media (e.g. email, blogs, wikis, asynchronous or synchronous discussion forums).

Blogging: To write entries in, add material to, or to maintain a Weblog.

Socialisation: Socialisation is one of the outcomes of blogging where the Web is being used as a medium to interact with people and ‘socially’ network with them. Socialisation is about people being able to interact with one another and establish connections on one or more levels by sharing ideas, views and information.

Higher Education: In the UK, this refers to degree level, Masters level, or PhD level education (usually) for people aged over 18 years.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Foreword
Jennifer Preece
Acknowledgment
Stylianos Hatzipanagos, Steven Warburton
Chapter 1
Jon Dron, Terry Anderson
Understanding the affordances, effectiveness and applicability of new media in multiple contexts is usually a slow and evolving process with many... Sample PDF
How the Crowd Can Teach
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Chapter 2
Chris Abbott, William Alder
Although social networking has been enthusiastically embraced by large numbers of children and young people, their schools and colleges have been... Sample PDF
Social Networking and Schools: Early Responses and Implications for Practice
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Chapter 3
Eleni Berki, Mikko Jäkälä
Information and communication technology gradually transform virtual communities to active meeting places for sharing information and for supporting... Sample PDF
Cyber-Identities and Social Life in Cyberspace
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Chapter 4
Werner Beuschel
Weblogs are a popular form of Social Software, supporting personal Web authoring as well as innovative forms of social interaction via internet. The... Sample PDF
Weblogs in Higher Education
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Chapter 5
Mark Bilandzic, Marcus Foth
Web services such as wikis, blogs, podcasting, file sharing and social networking are frequently referred to by the term Web 2.0. The innovation of... Sample PDF
Social Navigation and Local Folksonomies: Technical and Design Considerations for a Mobile Information System
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Chapter 6
Rakesh Biswas, Carmel M. Martin, Joachim Sturmberg, Kamalika Mukherji, Edwin Wen Huo Lee, Shashikiran Umakanth
The chapter starts from the premise that illness and healthcare are predominantly social phenomena that shape the perspectives of key stakeholders... Sample PDF
Social Cognitive Ontology and User Driven Healthcare
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Chapter 7
Jillianne R. Code, Nicholas E. Zaparyniuk
Central to research in social psychology is the means in which communities form, attract new members, and develop over time. Research has found that... Sample PDF
Social Identities, Group Formation, and the Analysis of Online Communities
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Chapter 8
Jillianne R. Code, Nicholas E. Zaparyniuk
Social and group interactions in online and virtual communities develop and evolve from expressions of human agency. The exploration of the... Sample PDF
The Emergence of Agency in Online Social Networks
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Chapter 9
A. Malizia, A. De Angeli, S. Levialdi, I. Aedo Cuevas
The User Experience (UX) is a crucial factor for designing and enhancing the user satisfaction when interacting with a computational tool or with a... Sample PDF
Exploiting Collaborative Tagging Systems to Unveil the User-Experience of Web Contents: An Operative Proposal
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Chapter 10
Utpal M. Dholakia, Richard Baraniuk
Open Education Programs provide a range of digitized educational resources freely to educators, students, and self-learners to use and reuse for... Sample PDF
The Roles of Social Networks and Communities in Open Education Programs
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Chapter 11
Sebastian Fiedler, Kai Pata
This chapter discusses how the construction of an adequate design and intervention framework for distributed learning environments might be... Sample PDF
Distributed Learning Environments and Social Software: In Search for a Framework of Design
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Chapter 12
Yoni Ryan, Robert Fitzgerald
This chapter considers the potential of social software to support learning in higher education. It outlines a current project funded by the then... Sample PDF
Exploring the Role of Social Software in Higher Education
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Chapter 13
Kathryn Gow
This chapter focuses on the identification of a range of competencies that entry level workers, and thus graduating students, will need to acquire... Sample PDF
Identifying New Virtual Competencies for the Digital Age: Essential Tools for Entry Level Workers
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Chapter 14
Jerald Hughes, Scott Robinson
This chapter examines interaction-oriented virtual religious communities online in the light of sociological theory of religious communities. The... Sample PDF
Social Structures of Online Religious Communities
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Chapter 15
Helen Keegan, Bernard Lisewski
This chapter explores emergent behaviours in the use of social software across multiple online communities of practice where informal learning... Sample PDF
Living, Working, Teaching and Learning by Social Software
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Chapter 16
Lucinda Kerawalla, Shailey Minocha, Gill Kirkup, Gráinne Conole
With a variety of asynchronous communication and collaboration tools and environments such as Wikis, blogs, and forums, it can be increasingly... Sample PDF
Supporting Student Blogging in Higher Education
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Chapter 17
Lisa Kervin, Jessica Mantei, Anthony Herrington
This chapter examines blogging as a social networking tool to engage final year preservice teachers in reflective processes. Using a developed Web... Sample PDF
Blogs as a Social Networking Tool to Build Community
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Chapter 18
Jennifer Ann Linder-VanBerschot
The objective of this chapter is to introduce a model that outlines the evolution of knowledge and sustainable innovation of community through the... Sample PDF
A Model for Knowledge and Innovation in Online Education
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Chapter 19
Petros Lameras, Iraklis Paraskakis, Philipa Levy
This chapter focuses on discussing the use of social software from a social constructivist perspective. In particular, the chapter explains how... Sample PDF
Using Social Software for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
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Chapter 20
Dimitris Bibikas, Iraklis Paraskakis, Alexandros G. Psychogios, Ana C. Vasconcelos
The aim of this chapter is to investigate the potential role of social software inside business settings in integrating knowledge exploitation and... Sample PDF
The Potential of Enterprise Social Software in Integrating Exploitative and Explorative Knowledge Strategies
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Chapter 21
M. C. Pettenati, M. E. Cigognini, E. M.C. Guerin, G. R. Mangione
In this chapter the authors identify the Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) pre-dispositions, skills and competences of the current effective... Sample PDF
Personal Knowledge Management Skills for Lifelong-Learners 2.0
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Chapter 22
Sharon Markless, David Streatfield
This chapter questions whether the shift from the Web as a vehicle for storing and transmitting information to the new Web as a series of social... Sample PDF
Reconceptualising Information Literacy for the Web 2.0 Environment?
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Chapter 23
Catherine McLoughlin, Mark J.W. Lee
Learning management systems (LMS’s) that cater for geographically dispersed learners have been widely available for a number of years, but many... Sample PDF
Pedagogical Responses to Social Software in Universities
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Chapter 24
Alexandra Okada, Simon Buckingham Shum, Michelle Bachler, Eleftheria Tomadaki, Peter Scott, Alex Little, Marc Eisenstadt
The aim of this chapter is to overview the ways in which knowledge media technologies create opportunities for social learning. The Open Content... Sample PDF
Knowledge Media Tools to Foster Social Learning
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Chapter 25
Luc Pauwels, Patricia Hellriegel
This chapter looks into YouTube as one of the most popular Social Software platforms, challenging the dominant discourse with its focus on community... Sample PDF
A Critical Cultural Reading of "YouTube"
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Chapter 26
Ismael Peña-López
The author of this chapter proposes the concept of the Personal Research Portal (PRP) – a mesh of social software applications to manage knowledge... Sample PDF
The Personal Research Portal
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Chapter 27
Andrew Ravenscroft, Musbah Sagar, Enzian Baur, Peter Oriogun
This chapter will present a new approach to designing learning interactions and experiences that reconciles relatively stable learning processes... Sample PDF
Ambient Pedagogies, Meaningful Learning and Social Software
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Chapter 28
V. Sachdev, S. Nerur, J. T.C. Teng
With the trend towards social interaction over the Internet and the mushrooming of Web sites such as MySpace, Facebook and YouTube in the social... Sample PDF
Interactivity Redefined for the Social Web
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Chapter 29
Sue Thomas, Chris Joseph, Jess Laccetti, Bruce Mason, Simon Perril, Kate Pullinger
Transliteracy might provide a unifying perspective on what it means to be literate in the 21st Century. It is not a new behaviour but has been... Sample PDF
Transliteracy as a Unifying Perspective
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Chapter 30
Martin Weller, James Dalziel
This chapter looks at some of the areas of tension between the new social networking, Web 2.0 communities and the values of higher education. It... Sample PDF
Bridging the Gap Between Web 2.0 and Higher Education
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Chapter 31
Steve Wheeler
The use of group oriented software, or groupware, encourages students to generate their own content (McGill et al, 2005) and can foster supportive... Sample PDF
Destructive Creativity on the Social Web: Learning through Wikis in Higher Education
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Chapter 32
Scott Wilson
This chapter describes the mechanisms of presence in social networks and presents an ontology that frames the purpose, content, methods of... Sample PDF
Presence in Social Networks
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