Week 10: Open Platforms for Teaching and Learning

New to blogging and creating my blog for this POT; I have surprised myself. I have really enjoyed blogging even though it’s really….. time consuming, which is my excuse for being behind three weeks of assignments.

So, this has been another really good exercise emphasizing the planning and forethought needed developing an online resource and integrating it into a course, and when I think about how I’m struggling with this POT, it puts it all in perspective from a student point of view. But even more important the teacher’s point of view, with all the planning and underlying essential elements that need to be address when deciding to use online resources.

What I have enjoyed about blogging, like any writing assignment is the thought and reflection you go through thinking about  your subject to discuss, and when it’s a writing assignment for a class it becomes a critical process and even more important to your blogging because of the outcome.

Advantages and disadvantages of using a class blog or student blogs for your class?

I’m not sure if there’s any disadvantage to using class blogs other than (Lisa Lane states) if you’re going to use blogging; “you need to understand why you’re using blogging and the intended learning outcome.”

I think integrating blogs assignment into your course from my perceptive can allow you to get to know your students better as they write more, but some though and planning is evolved for it to really be effective  delivering a useful and well defined learning outcome.

In the reading, Read: Ko and Rossen, Chapter 7; it described a situation where a professor used blogging for the purpose of “reflective learning journals” students are to create their own reflective journals using free blogging software. Students are assigned a weekly blog response, addressing the following three questions.

  • What did you learn in the preceding week-not a list of facts, but what can you take away from the lesion, what has value to you?
  • How do you connect what you learned this week with your personal experience or with what you already knew?
  • How could/would you apply  your knowledge?

Pang asserts benefits of reflective blogging is enhanced ability to monitor students progress, to garner continuous student feedback, and to quickly identify challenges related to weekly class activities before serious problems set in.

I think this is an excellent use of blogging it comprised all of the elements for a successful learning outcome by fulfilling the following and “Avoiding the 5 Most Common Mistakes in Using Blogs with Students”

Effective Contextualization; Pang assigns a weekly blog response asking students to address three questions and phrasing the question to encourage blogging (journalistic essay writing).

Clear learning outcome; Pang questions make it very clear as to what the students are to blog about, the questions forces them to think and reflect on what they are learning and how they can apply and adapt these ideal into  career and life applications.

Effective use of the environment; Pang is clear about the environment by stating these blogs are reflections of the individual student and not discussions, “a one-way monologue”, students can post comments in response to their classmates’ blogs but are not required, and students are showed how this process is used in context of the course; Pang maintains an instructor blog to reinforce points, reassure, and sum up issues.

Good grading practices; Pang aggregate students blog for convince and uses a rubric for grading the blog contributions, encouraging students to find creative ways to reflect on their class lessons-whether by text, audio, video, or other means establishing detail requirements  on how to accomplish  this.

Adequate time allocation; Pang provide constant feedback by monitoring each weekly student blog progress, so for example  if a student is not blogging this would be a flag and he can provide that student help and support to get them up to speed during the course as apposed trying to address issues at end of semester.

Lisa Lane: Ruth Reynard, “Avoiding the 5 Most Common Mistakes in Using Blogs with Students

Ineffective Contextualization: As with any instructional tool or learning support, without a clear context within which the tool is to be used, students will not understand the benefit to their learning and will, ultimately, reject the use of the tool. To simply ask students to blog without this level of planning will lead to frustration for the students.

Unclear Learning outcomes:  If the instructor is unclear as to what the learning outcomes of the course are and is focused only on course objectives, the potential of the blog tool may not be maximized.

1.) Analysis: A blog can help students process their thoughts and ideas for analysis.

2.) Synthesis: As part of the analysis, it is important that students can synthesis the                     original ideas and the new ideas they will articulate.

3.) New ideas: Grasping new ideas through analysis and synthesis means that students can move ahead with their thinking and move closer towards transformation in learning and application.

4.) Application: Without application, new ideas are not “owned” by students in their learning. That is, new ideas can only become meaningful and relevant for students when they are directly applied in real life contexts of practice and use.

Misuse of the environment: blogs are not wikis and they are not online discussion forums, blogs are intended to be an individual publication: a one-way monologue or self-post to which others may comment but do not contribute. The original post remains as the person who posted it wanted it to be. When using blogs to encourage students to articulate their thoughts students can become empowered and feel that they are developing their own voice in the learning process. Instructors can also “glimpse” students’ thought processes and become much more aware of their learning journey.

Elusive grading practices: When using blogs to encourage students to articulate their thoughts students can become empowered and feel that they are developing their own voice in the learning process. Instructors can also “glimpse” students’ thought processes and become much more aware of their learning journey. Reflection statements (self positioning within the course concepts); Commentary statements (effective use of the course content in discussion and analysis); New idea statements (synthesis of ideas to a higher level); and Application statements (direct use of the new ideas in a real life setting).

 Inadequate time allocation: The notion of adequate time is not discussed often enough in the use of technology in learning. Just as students are different in their processing time within any learning context, so adequate time should be given for every student to complete work using online tools such as the blog.

Instructors should be reasonable and if possible, leaving the blog tool open until the end of the course. Instructors should be reasonable and if possible, leaving the blog tool open until the end of the course. This participation in turn provides more text or other response types from students and ultimately more for instructors to read through or view and grade.

Students should be fully aware of what the expectations are and how the tool is being used in their learning process. Once students understand this, they are more likely to participate and to a greater degree of critical awareness.

Could a Google Site or web page make a good welcome for students?

After viewing Pilar’s tutorial and playing around with Google Site, evaluating the managing tools, templates  and layout editing capabilities; for a free website posting Google Site would be a good place to build a student welcome page, or even use to manage your online class  if your school doesn’t have a course managing system or  augment your CMS.

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One Response to Week 10: Open Platforms for Teaching and Learning

  1. Laura P. says:

    I am glad that you got a chance to play around with Google Sites. I have made a few Google Sites, myself, and like how they work. Last semester, I started to think about making my “lectures” in my online classes with Google Sites. It would be neat to hear what you think about that since you are exploring the use of Google Sites yourself.

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