blogging for reflective learning: best practices and worst mistakes

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By Anand Ramchand. Department of Information Systems, NUS. The majority of our students are intimately familiar with blogs as a communication medium, having consumed their content on a regular basis. Creating content on a blog, on the other hand, is an exercise in reflection and can be used to stimulate deeper thought in students. Together with the social interaction and collaboration that occurs in blogging, the technology is an ideal platform to engage students in the individual and social processes of knowledge construction. However, administering an exercise that requires students to blog regularly throughout a semester poses several challenges. In this presentation, I share my experiences in using student blogs to encourage active and reflective learning, and some of the practices that worked (and those that didn't) to achieve this.


  • 1. BLOGGING FOR REFLECTIVE LEARNINGBEST PRACTICES & WORST MISTAKES Anand Ramchand Department of Information Systems 1The Context - IS1103 Computing & Society! Global ethical, social & legal vacuums around use of IT! Objectives: ! Awareness, Sensitivity ! Exploration! Need for reflection FISHEYSTREAM 2
  • 2. Reflective Learning! Form of deeper mental processing in learning ! Active & critical thinking, understanding ! Draws out personal experiences and assumptions ! Forces reorganization of thoughts for application & analysis ! Catalyst for sense-making! Several forms - concept maps, essays, forums, wikis, blogs 3 ANNIEMOLEBlogging! Online publishing platform ! chronological ! easily updated ! interaction via readers! Write once, read anywhere ! web, RSS readers, aggregators 4
  • 3. Platforms 5Blog.NUS 6
  • 4. Why Blogging?! Social interaction to support knowledge construction! Ownership over thoughts and understanding! Informality promotes engagement! Enhance writing and communication skills 7Guidelines for Students! Group blogging - 3 to 4 students (44 groups)! Each student had to make 4 posts in the semester! Group blog accounted for 10% of grade! Comments counted toward individual participation (10%)! Wide umbrella of topics or focused on a single domain 8
  • 5. Results! 668 vs. 1200 posts & 600 comments! Creative output ! video, audio, text ! jockeying for eyes! Deeper insights and reflection? 9Best Practices - #1 Easy Access 10
  • 6. Aggregated on NetVibes 11Best Practices - #2 Grading Criteria 12
  • 7. Relevant - bare minimum, irrelevant posts wont get any score. Descriptive - description of current state of affairs Analytical - draws a logical sound conclusion Normative - identifies ethical principles and values being affected, evaluates effect, claims of good/bad and ethical justification Multi-Perspective - considers different perspectives involved before making claims Engaged - demonstrates thorough involvement 13Best Practices - #3 Use Lecture Time! 10 minutes set aside during each lecture! Highlight both good and bad posts 14
  • 8. 1516
  • 9. Best Practices - #4 Student Feedback 17Other Best Practices ! #5 - Group Effort instead of Individual ! internal group improvement efforts ! #6 - Use of Checkpoints ! avoid end of term crunch ! #7 - User Identities ! essential for grading 18
  • 10. Worst Mistakes! #1 - Keeping up the momentum ! Spent 12 hours a week reading and commenting - it wasnt enough ! Heavy reliance on tutors, but hours are a problem ! Momentum is vital 19Worst Mistakes! #2 - Blogging by instructors / tutors ! Capability constraints ! Time constraints! #3 - Discussing the legal issues ! students need to realize who is reading their content ! awareness of NUS IT policies 20
  • 11. Success? Failure? Recommended? 21