use of Internet technology to facilitate interaction, communication,
and collaboration is well documented but its use in establishing and
developing “personal voice” as part of learning is also now being
addressed through the use of blogs. Finding personal voice as a
pedagogical method is important to establish learner identity and
focus, and journaling has long been recognized as an effective way to
provide space for this to occur. The blog, however, provides a context
in which personal voice can be “published” by the student, which means
that attention is given to content, relevancy, and connection with
learning outcomes to a higher degree than a traditional journal
submission. The idea that more than one person will view the work is
quite powerful in promoting a sense of ownership from the student.
Teachers can also benefit from “hearing” the personal voice of their
students to begin to really understand the learning path of each
student through a course.
The above is the opening paragraph in an article, Blogs in Higher Ed: Personal Voice as Part of Learning, published by Ruth Reynard in eLearning Dialogue.
I am glad to see studies like this coming out. The focus of this study was to answer these questions:
- Is blogging perceived as a good way to establish personal voice by both students and instructors?
- Is there a tension created by the published nature of the blog?
- What do instructors need to do to contextualize blogging in a course?
In the first study
blogs were uses as a reflective tool and each student recived a grade
for their blog. The grade was based on the number of posts, not on the
content. Students were to reflect on course readings or personal
experience. The conclusion was that students found this more of a
“chore and were focused only on completing it for the grade. The
instructor’s comments were included. Those are interesting and lend
insight into the study. This instructor felt it is important to model
reflection and provide more guiding questions for the students. The
next plan is to try to use blogs to support more ownership of the
context from the students.
In the second study blogging was used as a journaling tool but was
optional. Out of 25 students, only 3 chose to blog. Those three enjoyed
the convenience and visual permanency of the blog. They discovered that
it made their sequencing easier in terms of thought progression. The
instructor felt that students within a class sharing their blog with
specific individuals t prompt response could be encouraged to support
small group connection and student-to-student support. He thought this
could probably provide more learning support than discussion boards
The third study consisted of 27 students who blogged. They were in a
first-year creative writing class and were to blog twice a week on any
topic that interested them. A few times the instructor gave them a
topic. No grade was assigned. Most students enjoyed this at
first, a few didn’t like it, five were very excited about it. One hated
it at first but is now hooked and continues to blog. This instructor
enjoyed blogging and checking student blogs. Blogging will contine next
In the fourth study 6 students participated in a language support
group. The project will continue next semester and be assessed more
carefully. Students have found that a blogring is helpful in staying
Summary and Recommendations from the article:
- Blogging must be integrated early in the course design and must be clearly
connected to the course outcomes before it can become anything more than just an
extra task for the students.
- Grading does seem to motivate the students, but it seems to be more
effective to grade according to effort in relevancy to course content and
outcomes than simply on numbers of submissions.
- There is an issue with privacy, particularly with older students. This
should be addressed by emphasizing how to secure and share entries.
- Instructors need time to evaluate the importance of self-reflection as a
methodological approach in learning as well as the value of integrating personal
voice in the learning context. Otherwise the exercise will be perceived as
futile to the students.
Small samplings here
but it’s a beginning. I am glad to see these type of studies coming
out. The good news is that they are going to continue the studies.
They are also going to attempt to better prepare each instructor by
discussing how blogging relates to course outcomes.