Wednesday, 26 January 2011
I've said before that I'm surprised about the impact writing a Blog each week has had on my capacity to reflect and I do feel I really benefit from it. It provides an opportunity to have another think about my activities each week, firms up my ideas and files them in amongst the rest of the nuggets of knowledge that are in my head - (bet you're glad I shared that thought with you!)
I've previously advocated the use of Blogs with learners as a tool for reflection. Many eportfolio systems include them along with templates that encourage Personal Development Planning (PDP) which is often an element in guidance programs, but a paper I was reading this week as part of some personal study that I'm undertaking, got me thinking a bit more about the idea.
An interesting video on YouTube I was recently alerted to with Seth Godin and Tom Peters, discussing the value of blogging. They are both enthusiastic advocates of the benefits of Blogging in terms of personal, intellectual and emotional outlook and I broadly agree about the personal benefits of summarising a topic and writing down your own thoughts on it - It's described as meta-cognition.
So if you haven't tried it yet maybe now's the time to try.
Balancing the need for structure (to ensure performance criteria is met) and learner autonomy is a challenge for institutions. It is argued greater structure undermines the authenticity of postings and can compromise the opportunities for deep learning that Blogs can offer. It can't be denied though that using technology seems to be more attractive to learners than putting pen to paper. Perhaps in the Further Education sector providing structure is an essential ingredient if the attractions of web 2.0 technologies are to be exploited and potential benefits are to be maximised. Ideas for overcoming these barriers to uptake at an institutional level need to be explored.
As with many Web2.0 tools the emphasis on communication and collaboration means that many types of social software are becoming recognised as valuable learning tools that can be particularly useful to assess contributions of individual learners to group outcomes. Blogs can be used in this manner and have the potential to become powerful tools to provide evidence of deep learning and reflection.
Community blogs can be used to document progress towards the completion of a group task and the chronological aspects of the software are helpful in monitoring progress, achievement and contributions. Consideration of the extent to which authentication is required and indeed how it's managed will determine how this type of software is deployed within an institution.
Blogs provide an ideal solution when the documentation of learning processes is needed, often a challenge for institutions and potentially quite "high risk" in terms of moderation and verification. As with other social software the "signing in" requirements mean that activities are well documented and can be monitored relatively easily. Comment facilities provide a mechanism for peer assessment - provided good guidelines and support for the whole process is in place.
Blogs can be used as a journal and to assist personal development planning, documenting progress towards the achievement of goals. The ability to easily upload multimedia to web-based applications is of great value in many areas of the curriculum e.g. hairdressing students can take images of both the end result and also the processes that were involved. This could be applied in the same way in food production or the construction trades.