Blog 2- The benefits of blogging

I’ve decided to focus this week on something that is a large part of this module. Are there any benefits to blogging? Can they enable students to learn independently or are teachers using them as a ‘get out’ so they have less to teach?

When blogs were introduced to us in year 2 in the research methods and statistics module, I was not a fan. I’ve always struggled with the stats side of psychology at Bangor, and the thought of having to blog about it fortnightly, quite frankly scared me! Furthermore, the thought of having to comment on other student’s blogs, trying to pretend I knew what I was talking about, was even worse. However, after a few weeks practice I actually started to enjoy it, building stats into real world examples made it easier for me to understand, and the fact that I could introduce stats into my own world examples, made it less of a chore to learn about. When choosing modules, the fact that Science of Education focused primarily on blogging drew me into picking it, not only am I completely useless at exams, the fact I could learn something new independently and use my newly acquired ‘blogging’ skills was something I was looking forward too.

Advantages: Since blogging I feel like I have learnt a lot about the subject area I was posting about, therefore, I feel blogging about Science of Education will enable me to teach myself about areas of the topic that are interesting to me. Julie Northam wrote an article (http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/2012/01/11/the-benefits-of-academic-blogging-should-you-enter-the-blogosphere/) where she focuses on the benefits of blogging in the academic world, she states that academics who blog regularly report positive outcomes including networking and finding new audiences, they feel that through the process of blogging they can extend their area of expertise to everyone through the internet, and find new people interested in the research they are carrying out. Blogging can allow universities to interact and connect with society in different ways. A review into the benefits of blogging within schools (http://theschoolbloggers.co.uk/school-blogs-benefits/blogging-in-the-classroom/) found that blogging can be adapted to help students of all abilities; it can be adapted to fit their needs. It has also been seen to improve a range of students abilities, both with writing skills and ICT skills, they become more willing to write, as they are writing about a topic that interests them, and therefore the chore of writing fades away as they become more engaged in the process. Moving away from the educational benefits of blogging, another article (http://www.businessesgrow.com/2012/09/04/five-unexpected-benefits-of-blogging/) has written about to psychological benefits of blogging, writing about feelings and thoughts after a traumatic period in life can often help alleviate the burden felt by individuals, with many therapists now suggesting blogging to their clients as a form of release.

Disadvantages: As much as I am a fan of blogging and having the ability to learn independently, I have struggled with the concept of commenting on other peoples work and receiving comments on my own. I received ‘non-helpful’ comments on my statistics blog last year, with remarks on my use of grammar and spelling, something I did not feel was helpful when already anxious about blogging on an area I struggled with. The process of blogging can also be very time consuming. With academic blogs being part of a module, they are of course deadlined, however, this can make students rush their work or struggle with a topic area. Johnson (2005) carried out research into The Use of Blogs as a Knowledge Management Tool, his studies involved students completing blogs using different methods and then commenting on how they found the process. The main disadvantage was that students felt uncomfortable commenting on other peoples blogs, however Hurlburt (2008) notes that these feelings of insecurity are usually temporary and vanish as the students get more comfortable with the class and their peers. Another downside was that some students found their peers wrote far too much and found it difficult to pinpoint an exact argument to comment and research further into (http://rapidintellect.com/AEQweb/cho4462z9.htm).

These are just some of the advantages and disadvantages of blogging, and some of them have been researched into based primarily on my view on the process. I’m aware that other people will hold different opinions into their blogging experience.

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5 thoughts on “Blog 2- The benefits of blogging

  1. I liked reading your advantages and disadvantages of blogging as I hold the same views. When I was told we had to write blogs on statistics my first reaction was oh no! But then I soon realised that these blogs were not testing my ability on spss and other random statistical tests that I was trying to get my head round in a matter of days in first year. Instead I was able to write and discuss statistics in the real world and since then I often look at the statistics at the bottom of advertisements and start to analyse whether the figures on the television are significant.
    In regards to a method of testing I think blogs are a new way to assess our understanding in what we are interested in as there is so much to learn its nice to pick on different topics and comment on topics I have never even considered thinking about, especially the free topics as I am reading about all sorts of new areas within educational psychology. one poll online asked “Should school exams be replaced with different ways of assessing skills and knowledge?” and 70% of people who answered said yes. Another poll asked a similar question “Can final exams give a fair assessment of student knowledge?” and 71% of people who answer said yes to this question. These polls along with other articles and research suggest that Exams are not always the best method of testing. Other forms of testing such as writing blogs, practical assessments need to be introduced.

    http://www.debate.org/opinions/should-school-exams-be-replaced-with-different-ways-of-assessing-skills-and-knowledge

    http://www.helium.com/debates/320696-can-final-exams-give-a-fair-assessment-of-student-knowledge/side_by_side

  2. I think one very strong point about blogs, which you haven’t addressed, how blogs can make education less formal, and be the better for it. Evidence has shown if we are learning in the form of a discussion, although we can’t get a full education just from this method, it is distinctive and has many advantages (Larson, 2000). Discussions can also vary in purpose, content and format, meaning there is a variety of different ways education can be used through discussion. Merryfield (2000) has also found that electronic discussion formats like blogs are advantageous as they link to a homepage, and an instructor can be in control making sure the students are learning on their own, but taking the right direction, while being an inexpensive method.

    References:

    http://www.editlib.org/p/14452/

  3. Within the educational research there seems to be a lot of controversy over whether blogs are an effective tool in aiding learning. From my research I have found evidence for the use of blogs by Lin et al (2006), who suggested that they encourage engagement. However I have also found evidence strongly against by Divitini, Haugalokken, & Morken (2005), suggesting that the use of blogs do not motivate students. From this I decided to look into the area of blogs suggested to be beneficial, receiving feedback and alternative opinions (Lin et al., 2006). It has been proposed that peer tutoring and peer collaboration can be effective in education as they can compliment already ongoing education (Damon, 1984). This could be applied to this module as although we gain general feedback from Jesse, we also gain critical analysis of our points off a range of our peers. In reference to Damon’s (1984) findings blogging could be seen as a form of collaboration, as when we leave comments they serve as a way of adding perspectives and developing our knowledge on the area. It can also be seen as a form of tutoring as our initial blog is us producing information and ‘transmitting’ knowledge to others. This form of interaction with peers has been suggested to enhance motivation, as well as develop interest in new challenging areas, enhance achievement of students and suggested to be a good way in helping children develop a basic understanding (Damon, 1984). I think the final point is probably the most relevant statement to blogs. There is no way already that I could of in-depth researched the areas that people have posted about in the past two weeks, yet I have a basic understanding of the concepts and the arguments for and against them. Overall I believe blogs can be a benefit to education as the peer interaction can encourage critical analysis in the form of comments and provide a wider range of basic knowledge.

    References

    Damon, W. (1984). Peer education: The untapped potential. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 5(4), 331-343.

    Divitini, M., Haugalokken, O., & Morken, E. M. (2005, July). Blog to support learning in the field: lessons learned from a fiasco. In Advanced Learning Technologies, 2005. ICALT 2005. Fifth IEEE International Conference on (pp. 219-221). IEEE.

    Lin, W. J., Liu, Y. L., Kakusho, K., Yueh, H. P., Murakami, M., & Minoh, M. (2006, July). Blog as a tool to develop e-learning experience in an international distance course. In Advanced Learning Technologies, 2006. Sixth International Conference on (pp. 290-292). IEEE.

  4. Hey Becky, great blog topic! And one I’m planning on going into myself a little bit next week, so thank you for giving me some extra thoughts on it :)
    I, personally, love doing the blogs. I like being able to express myself in a way that I’m not worrying about getting marked on APA formatting, spelling or grammar, and I can stop thinking about those to just express myself how I see fit.
    I also believe that finding the information myself is very helpful to me. I don’t think I could tell you a thing from I was assessed on last year, but I could tell you something I blogged about – because I found the information myself and put it into my own words, and I felt that helped me not only learn, but to understand.
    I know that not everyone would feel the same way as I do about blogs, and a few studies I found showed that students are not always willing to participate in group work when it takes place online (which I think probably fits in well with blog comments here) (Brindley et at., 2009; Piezon & Ferree, 2008; Wright & Lawson, 2005).

    However, I still think that doing the blogs themselves have a great effect on our learning, even if some people are a bit tentative about doing comments. Johnson and Johnson (1989) found that students tend to learn the most effectively when they can express their thoughts and discuss and challenge others’ ideas. I just thought that this piece of research really sums up why blogs can be so beneficial – we can express our thoughts (which is what I was saying earlier about loving that I can write how I like to write without worrying about APA formatting, grammar or spelling) and the comments also give us a chance to discuss and challenge our peers’ ideas (in a polite way, and not personally attacking of course – the people who do this, as you said you found last year, are the people who ruin the chances given by blogs and comments by making people tentative, in my opinion).

    So, thank you again for giving me something to think about. I look forward to reading your blog next week!

    Brindley, J. E., Walti, C., & Blaschke, L. M. (2009). Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online environment. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(3). Retrieved from: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/675/1271

    Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1989). Cooperation and competition: Theory and research. Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company.

    Piezon, S., & Ferree, W. (2008). Perceptions of social loafing in online learning groups: A study of public university and U.S. Naval War College students. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(2). Retrieved from: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/484/1034

    Wright, E. R., & Lawson, A. H. (2005). Computer mediated communication and student learning in large introductory sociology classes. Teaching Sociology, 33(2), 122-135.

  5. Such a relevant topic to blog about!

    I agree with your point about blogs building a greater understanding about a topic. It’s also very important that we enjoy what we learn and how it is taught – This will give us motivation to learn more and gain deeper knowledge. It also gives us the opportunity to read and discuss others’ opinions on a particular topic; we can then expand each other’s ideas and learn together. When I was first told about blogs in second year, I did not look forward to them at all. The thought of evaluating other students’ work scared me! But I soon began to enjoy it!
    You mentioned that blogging can improve children’s abilities in ICT skills. I think this is very important in modern society due to the job requirements; if we don’t have these basic ICT skills there’s not much chance of getting a job!
    Another advantage of using blogs in education is that it is an effective way to bring individuals together who share the same interests and common knowledge. (Boulos, Maramba & Wheeler, 2006).

    Overall, I personally believe that the use of blogs in education is going to encourage us to learn more. It is a much better system in comparison to exams where students usually cram the information and probably forget the next day! With the use of blogs, it keeps us thinking throughout the module and develops debates around various topics! :)

    References

    Boulos, M. NK., Maramba, I., & Wheeler, S. (2006). Wikis, blogs and podcasts: a new generation of Web-based tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education. BMC Medical Education, 6(41). doi:10.1186/1472-6920-6-41

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