Weblogs in Higher Education

Weblogs in Higher Education

Werner Beuschel (Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-208-4.ch004
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Weblogs are a popular form of Social Software, supporting personal Web authoring as well as innovative forms of social interaction via internet. The potential of Weblogs to emphasize active student participation and collaboration raises great expectations for a new pedagogical quality in higher education. In this chapter, the author explores the value of Social Software, specifically Weblogs, for learning and teaching in institutional education. An exploratory study serves as background for the discussion. Critical issues and areas of research for using Social Software in education are concluding the chapter.
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Social Software, Web 2.0, And Weblogs

Social Software provides an easy-to-use technical background for computer-mediated communications between individuals or individuals and groups: “Social Software blends tools and modes for richer online social environments and experiences” (Corante 2004). The quote refers to the enabling character of information technology for building new relationships: Social networks and Social Software are seen to be complementing each other. In contrast to the earlier understanding of computer use, where goal-orientation and purposeful uses were in the foreground, now the voluntary, self-organized distribution of information over the internet and the added value for supporting real as well as virtual communities catch the attention of research and business alike. So the appealing effect of the Internet is no longer driven by the technicality of being logged-in, but rather through the personal participation in the co-weaving of the information texture of the World Wide Web. Unlike earlier activities, this is not only done by writing and reading, but also by representing the interests of oneself through pictures, videos or audio streams.

The basic idea behind the term Social Software can be traced back over six decades to Vannevar Bush and others. Vannevar Bush’s “memex” was an early blueprint of hypertext, although never manufactured. The device was basically intended to store and associate related knowledge and experiences for personal use (cf. Bush 1945). So the idea to enhance the reach of our personal memory and knowledge by using an external device and providing it with all our individual understanding and experiences as well as that of other people is not so new. Interestingly enough and contained already in the original writing Bush envisioned that other people’s knowledge would be equally important and that the exchange of newly associated knowledge would be the crucial asset (for an extensive discussion of the unfolding of Bush’s idea cf. Allen 2004). The ease-of-use of the current applications and their widespread adoption, though, creates a new quality with respect to users and innovative interactions.

The term Web 2.0 was coined by Tim O’Reilly, a well-known speaker and writer on issues of the internet (O’Reilly 2005). Rather than trying to define Web 2.0 more precisely some authors distinguish its applications from the presumed world of Web 1.0. While Web 1.0 is supposed to simply present information, Web 2.0 is implying user participation. In popular publications, Web 2.0 is frequently understood as a synonym for Social Software, although it carries a stronger connotation to technical and business aspects. In this chapter, the term Social Software is preferred over Web 2.0, intended to embrace the facets of both terms.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Blogging: The individual activity to contribute to a Weblog, either by posts or by comments to posts

Posting: Another term for >Blogging

RSS-Feed: Defined as Rich Site Summary (RSS 0.9x), RDF Site Summary (RSS1.0), Really Simple Syndication (RSS2.0). Through RSS, short descriptions of articles or web pages can be represented in machine readable form (XML) and regularly delivered by a news repository. It is also called a newsfeed. This way changes and updates in one site are automatically fed to subscribers, see http://www.atompub.org/ and http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rssChangeNotes (06/14/2006)

Weblog: Artificial word, combining “Web” and “log”file. Web pages with individual entries presented in reverse chronological order, usually maintained by a single author and managed through a specialized software system

Blogroll: A list of constant links in a Weblog that points to other, somehow related Blogs

Informal Learning: Informal learning is neither institutionally planned nor functionally defined, but opportunistic and spontaneous. It can take place within or outside of institutionally planned education

Social Software: Web-based systems, supporting individual representation, mass interaction, formation and communication of common-interest groups

Trackback: A technology employed to let users of a Weblog know which other Blogs are linking to them.

Blogosphere: A thought construct, comprising all existing Weblogs, denoting the social relevance of Blogging

Blog: Short form for >Weblog

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Jennifer Preece
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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"
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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