As we start to roll the Learning Spaces pilot further out we’ve been thinking about how to get students to consider both the practical “how to” of blogging, and also the often more difficult to express, “why to”, what benefits does blogging really bring for students.

I’ve just had 2 sessions with some students from DJCAD, 1st years on the Social Digital group of degrees, and 2nd years on the Design and Craft group of degrees. The lecturers wanted the students to blog for 2 main purposes, to allow students to reflect on their own learning, including supporting each other as a community, and to start to learn how they could present themselves to future collaborators and/or clients.

A quick discussion of social media generally revealed that most students used at least 1 form of social media, whether that was Facebook, Linked In, WhatsApp – and various others. When it came to blogging, I used Mentimeter to find out what level of experience students had of blogging previously, the majority of students, as expected, had read/commented on blogs (34 out of the 54), but hadn’t had their own. I was surprised by the number of students  (9/54) who claimed they didn’t know what blogs were; I wonder, though, if that’s because they were used to the format, but not the name.

We then moved to an activity I’ve used in the past, having first come across it many years ago, (I’m sure I had a post on my own blog about it, but I can no longer find it). Part of the floor was designated “The Internet” and students had to post to it. Martin, who was leading the year 1 group, commented to me about how absorbed the students were doing this activity, compared to the frenetic activity of the previous day – the first at Uni for most.

Short blogs on paper, scattered on the floor

Blogs on the “Internet”

I then moved to the more ‘formal’ bits – why blogging is useful for students. This was another ‘over to you’ – getting some free text comments from students, there were some very insightful comments.

Finally, we looked at the practicality of setting up blogs on LearningSpaces, including aspects such as selecting privacy settings, visual design, and Martin outlined the first post he’s expecting.

While hunting my personal blog for posts about blogging, though unable to find the paper blogging post I’m sure I wrote (perhaps it joined the long list of “must finish that sometime”), I found a link to “Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector” (Williams & Jacobs, 2004), which I think is as true today as it was then.

References:

Williams, J. B., & Jacobs, J. S. (2004). Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20, 232–247.