I read this with various hats on. Firstly, I thought the discussion under the academic literature on blogging was good as it took many of the discussions about blogs to a slightly different level. It shifted the discussion from simply using blogs as reflective, personal journals towards them being used to develop other student skills, which have clear benefits for their learning. Such as increasing confidence, critical thinking and being able to more effectively express themselves. I’m going to follow up the Ferdy and Trammel reference … I read it many years ago ….
As the discussion shifted to how the authors had used blogs in their teaching then a couple of points emerged that I thought would be appropriate for the context of Bath. Firstly, the issue of student motivation to participate. A common view is that if students aren’t rewarded then they’ll not take part. This was identified as being partially true with their students. However, the analysis indicated that students after the pilot perceived that their learning experience from using the blog was very positive, and a large number thought it should be rolled out across more units within the programme. This made me think that we need to make students much more aware of the benefits of taking part in collaborative blogs. I think then when we set the activity we tend to undersell the wider benefits that can be gained from participation.
My final hat was the critical friend role with the person who wrote the article. I’d have liked to see a few changes that would have improved the learning experience for me, the reader. I would have preferred if they’d reduce the length of the intro and spent more space on actually explaining what the students actually did, and more detail on how it was implemented and how it fitted in with the rest of the course. I would have also liked to see some quantitative evidence from the blogs and the logs. For instance, how often was it used? what was the pattern of use? did people stop contributing? based on examples what was the type of discourse undertaken? was there a core number of bloggers? did people make comments? etc etc etc., I’d also liked to have seen if they could used focus groups to start to unpick if the active bloggers started to see the benefits suggested by Ferdis and Trammel (2004)