Core Activity 9.1: Desktop research


The evidence of research-related competency produced for this activity needs to demonstrate:

  • the ability to research a topic by accessing a range of information sources
  • an understanding of that topic
  • analysis of the information sources.

For this activity I have researched the use of blogs in education and come up with the following categories, descriptions, examples and notes.

Practitioners reflective Blog

Definition
Blogs which are kept by learning professionals in which they reflect on their experiences, and any issues relating to their profession.  These are usually individual blogs and can form part of their personal development plan (PDP) as part of a larger eportfolio (Institute for learning, no date)

Notes

Reflecting via a blog can provide practitioners with a diverse audience however a lack of personal contact means that blogging can be seen as a lonely experience.  The Edublog awards have attempted to address this by praising the work of bloggers and show them that they ‘ “are not entirely at home in the ‘blogosphere” Dr Sabine Little from the University of Sheffield as cited by O’Hear (2007).  Although blogging may seem a lonely experience for some, the blogosphere can provide a feeling of community with many blogging practitioners commenting, discussing and debating ideas on each others blogs (Becta 2006)

Examples

Elearning stuff- James Clay

http://elearningstuff.wordpress.com/

The Scholastic Scribe
http://scholastic-scribe.blogspot.com/

The Cool Cat Teacher Blog

http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/

Student Blogs
Definition

This is a very broad group as it can include individual blogs for personal reflection as well as group blogs for collaborative learning.  I will be specifficly discussing blogs which learners use as part of a specific course and are likely to be initiated by the teacher.

Notes
If a student blog is made available over the internet there are a number of important safty issues to be addressed, particularly for younger students.  These issues can be addressed with solutions such as acceptable use policies, the use of pseudonyms and ensuring learners are aware of how to report issues (Richardson, 2006).  There are advantages to having students work published as a blog, as it allows others to join the conversation.  An example of this is the blog used by learners in New Jersey as a book review of the secret life of bees.  Having the review online meant the author could contribute and answer any questions (Guardian Online, 2004).

Although a teaching practitioner may be keen for their learners to use blogs, as a way of reflecting on development, the attitudes of learners towards the value of blogs may vary with some avoiding the process, some using blogging for personal reflection and some developing online communities. For these reasons it may be wise for practioners to ensure blogging activities are flexible and possibly voluntary (Kerawalla, et al.2008)

Examples
The secret life of Bees
A collaborative book review by students

weblogs.hcrhs.k12.nj.us/bees/

Moo- Photography Blog

http://moo4you.blogspot.com/

Eric’s Blog

http://erich4.edublogs.org/about-me/

Organisation Blogs

Definition

This refers to blogs which are produced as part of an organisations website.  This may include a learning provider or support service.  The blog may include personal reflections from individuals working for the organisation or they may be used to promote or provide news about the organisation.

Notes

A blog may be an effective way for an organisation of delivering news and standard information, however these blogs do not appear to initiate much discussion in the form of comments (http://www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk/blog/). Organisational Blogs which include reflections, analysis and opinions of individuals within an organisation may lead to more debate, however there is a danger that there is confusion between the opinions of individuals and the organisations they represent (http://jisc.cetis.ac.uk/).  There are some organisational blogs that include a combination of news and opinion (http://techdis.ac.uk/blog/)

Examples
The Mortarboard Blog from the Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/mortarboard

JISC Digital Media
http://www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk/blog/

Cetis
http://jisc.cetis.ac.uk/

TechDis
http://techdis.ac.uk/blog/

References

O’Hear (2007 )’The Best of the Blogs’ Guardian Online. 9 January. [Online] Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2007/jan/09/elearning.technology15 (Accessed: 5 January 2010)

Richardson, W. (2006) Blogs Wikis Podcasts and other powerful web tools for the classroom [Online] Available at: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=tnBReFo5n_YC&pg=PA48&lpg=PA48&dq=student+blog+safety&source=bl&ots=8RhHj8IB_d&sig=DC_haEaJk8Y2mTCKJLnDG2YqG9o&hl=en&ei=g4VDS_WlCYf_4AaDxqCqCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CCYQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=student%20blog%20safety&f=false (Accessed: 5 January 2010)

Guardian Online (2004) ‘Logs prepare to go on a roll’ Guardian Online 8 June. [Online] Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2004/jun/08/elearning.technology4 (Accessed: 5 January 2010)

Kerawalla, L. Minocha, S. Kirkup, G. And Conole, G. (2008) ‘Characterising the different blogging behaviours of  students on an online distance learning course  ‘Learning, Media and Technology. Volume 22, Issue 1, Pages 21-33. [Online] Available at: http://www.informaworld.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/smpp/section?content=a790941795&fulltext=713240928 (Accessed: 23 May 2009)

BECTA (2006) Emerging Technologies for Learning. [Online] Available at: http://partners.becta.org.uk/upload-dir/downloads/page_documents/research/emerging_technologies.pdf (Accessed: 5 January 2010)

Institute for learning (no date) Case Study: Thanet College [Online] Available at: http://www.ifl.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/4654/Thanet-College.pdf (Accessed: 5 January 2010)

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