Using Blogs as a Technology Tool to Promote Teaching Goals in Education

Using Blogs as a Technology Tool to Promote Teaching Goals in Education

Pauline Stonehouse (University of North Dakota, USA), Jared Keengwe (University of North Dakota, USA) and Cynthia Shabb (Global Friends Coalition, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jicte.2012010105
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Abstract

This qualitative study explored graduate students’ use of blogs to support the achievement of teaching and learning goals. Blog postings and comments were analyzed and coded with the aid of HyperRESEARCH qualitative data analysis software. Once the blogs were coded, themes emerged from the data. The blogs were found to function in an integrated manner as a forum for students to engage other learners in discipline-specific conversations, espouse theory, reflect on professional and academic experience, and cogitate. Study results demonstrate the potential for blog technology to enhance the development of higher order thinking skills.
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Introduction

Blogs began as a personal approach of documenting thoughts, as in a “web log” or journal, and is commonly used teaching and learning as a tool to enhance communication (Williams & Jacobs, 2004). Blogging can be seen as a public enterprise when students post blogs via the World Wide Web (WWW) or it can be more private with blogs viewable only to selected members when used in a course management system such as Blackboard. There is a large amount of experimentation with blogging technology, including implementation in content areas such as science and math (Brownstein & Klein, 2006; Greer & Reed, 2008; Loving, Schroeder, Kang, Shimek, & Herbert, 2007; Luehmann & Frink, 2009), language (Dippold, 2009), business (Kaplan, Piskin, & Bol, 2009; Williams & Jacobs, 2004) and many areas within education (Deng & Yuen, 2007; Oikonomidoy, 2009).

Blogs are being implemented to facilitate the exchange of ideas and resources (Luehman & Frink, 2009; Oravec, 2003), to provide opportunities for reflection on course content and to foster professional learning communities (Hernandez-Ramos, 2004; Loving et al., 2007; Windham, 2007). Students are being asked to blog with the hope that they will come better prepared for class (Greer & Reed, 2008). The development of soft skills, as well as other positive outcomes such as a familiarity with information technologies, interdisciplinary benefits, better use of time, collaboration, and instructor development, was accomplished through blogging when marketing students blogged (Kaplan et al., 2009). Additionally, blogs can potentially be valuable tools for peer feedback (Dippold, 2009; Windham, 2007).

Professional networks, communities in which members continuously seek and share learning and then act on what they learn among educators, are a growing trend (Eaker, DuFour, & DuFour, 2002; Hord & Sommers, 2007; Schlager, Farooq, Fusco, Schank, & Dwyer, 2009). The importance of collaborative learning and the need to share collective knowledge of an organization for professional growth of teachers in the P-12 school is demonstrated by early research. The literature reflects a growing interest in cyber-enabled professional learning networks but to date their value is not yet well understood. Writers make optimistic claims for online communication tools. This call to arms by Ferriter (2009) highlights the importance of technology: “Blogs and wikis are changing who we are as learners, preparing us for a future driven by peer production and networked learning. All you need to get started is a willingness to explore and a sense of the kinds of tools that make this work easy” (p. 38).

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