Blogging to Enhance Learning Experiences: February 12-25, 2007

Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Timb Hoswell -
Number of replies: 17

I am a second year student in Mr Griffith’s class and I think that blogging, particularly the technology utilised by Livejournal can open up new possibilities in academic fields of research, study and inquiry. With my own experience in the liberal arts I’ve found it to be a powerful academic tool and would encourage anyone who intends to undertake serious academic study to open up and utilise one, not only for liaisoning and discussing ideas, but for putting across serious proposals, concepts and expressions within an informal setting and getting informal feedback. Also as a place to discuss ideas, learn from other people and perhaps put some of your own intuitions and discoveries across.

 

There is also the option of building up an online portfolio of work and ideas as several students have done with poetry, academic/ journalistic writing, and one particular student with his art works and paintings.

- Timb
In reply to Timb Hoswell

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Tamara Gardner -
I too am one of Michael's second year students, and just to prove how effective Livejournal is as a tool for communication, it was through LJ that I discovered the link for this site.

I think that LJ has been an awesome tool for creating a sense of community amoungst students and also to show case their work.

Being such an unrestricted environment students are free to roam and post as they please, opening up creative possibilities, and possibilities for any of their strengths in English, while also offering the opportunity to recieve feed back, both from their Lecturer and fellow students.

You are actually able to hear students (and lecturers!) voices through their work on LJ, and watch as they develop, or just be able to feel that you are genuinely connected.
In reply to Tamara Gardner

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Michael Griffith -
Tamara's comment highlights her experience of how Blogging gives her a real space to express herself in ways that other more formal parts of the course do not allow. Here are two good examples of the way Tamara has used her LiveJournal experience to express just what she gets out of her reading and how it has also allowed her to open up to the experiences of other students:
http://tamaragardner.livejournal.com/2006/09/16/
http://tamaragardner.livejournal.com/2006/08/24/ :-D
Thanks Tamara- sharing your experience of Blogging is going to be invaluable to this conversation as a whole. We will all benefit from your participation (and that includes you!)
Michael
In reply to Timb Hoswell

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Timb- thank you for your immediate and thoughtful entry into this conversation. And I have now pointed to some examples of your work in my response to Barbara Dieu (http://scope.lidc.sfu.ca/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=423) :-D So please feel free to illustrate more directly how you have been using LiveJournal for your own creative development as part of your study of literature,
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Timb Hoswell -

 

The mix of students is fairly broad. A large number of students fill out the minim amount of work required, and a few, as in all courses, do none or next to nothing and as a consequence either dropped out or scored extremely low. Others enthusiastically seek out more work to do, while a portion of the students involved have picked up the ball and run with it. One of whom is Marc (Ghettoman) who has used his Live Journal not only to document his work through the semester and explore his own ideas, but also to develop his own artistic personality and distil his concepts and first hand knowledge of art and literature for when he becomes a teacher.

 

I’ve found Live Journal a release for my writing, as well as a challenging new medium. Prior to my first year of uni I had almost no experience using the net, and am still discovering common tasks and having problems fulfilling them. But the advent of Live Journal forced me to confront technology and think about it in new ways. For many students it was a shock, my self included - thinking of English literature as being a traditional course concerned with dusty volumes and large books filled with dead poets and writers.

 

With the help of friends and other students and a touch of ambition I was able to get to grips with the new technology and start utilising it for expressing myself, sharing ideas and using creativity as a learning medium. This cultivated in the second semester in the body of work I created blending basic filming teqniques with poetry and narration, a lot of the inspiration for the work coming from the hyper-media we were and had been studying, along with more traditional texts of poetry and prose.

 

It also gave me the motivation to keep going to Uni and get through the year when problems and crises arose at home because I was able to talk about them with other students I had become familiar with through Live Journal and didn’t feel alienated or disaffected when the work got hard because other people were writing about their problems and the difficulty of the work as well.

 

I’ve posted up some of my work in my latest entry http://dr-mindbender82.livejournal.com/ for genral intrest

In reply to Timb Hoswell

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Michael Griffith -
Thank you Timb for sharing that information with us so honestly and directly. It is really helpful for us all to see and understand precisely how the technology is giving a new shape and new possibilities to your learning.... Well done... and your thread has produced some really animated discussion, both here and elsewhere
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Timb Hoswell

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Barbara Dieu -
Hello Timb,
I totally agree with you that blogs are powerful webpublishing platforms which allow you not only to establish your presence online, experiment with different forms of expressing yourself, document your thoughts and learning process but also make contact with and exchange ideas with other interesting people, whom you would never ever meet in your daily routine at school or college.

In reply to Barbara Dieu

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Timb Hoswell -

I joined a Philosophy community last year and have learnt a stack of stuff about 21st century philosophy which I wouldn't have known otherwise. I think what makes it so powerful an academic tool is you can put your ideas down somewhere and get feedback from them, rather than just carrying them around in your head and waiting for a chance to write a paper or submitting them in an essay.

Also you can converse with people in text which is a huge difference to doing it verbally as it's often impossible to convey many of the subtleties and intricacies of what you are saying face to face, which is how writers and scholars have been doing it for hundreds of years, just without the advent of speed and such a quick reply.

 

In reply to Timb Hoswell

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Barbara Dieu -
I have just come across  and uploaded here (pdf file) a good review published by FutureLab UK in 2006. It deals with creativity, the role of new technology in fostering it and the barriers and obstacles to its development in traditional educational settings. There is also a large reference list to be consulted.
In reply to Barbara Dieu

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Terry Wassall -

For a (short and very entertaining) presentation on creativity in education I found really inspirational see http://www.ted.com/tedtalks/tedtalksplayer.cfm?key=ken_robinson

Also another document about where emerging technologies and education are going is the 2006Horizon Report at http://www.educause.edu/content.asp?page_id=666&ID=CSD4387&bhcp=1

The annual Horizon Report is a collaborative effort between the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI). Each year, the report identifies and describes six areas of emerging technology likely to have a significant impact on teaching, learning, or creative expression in higher education within three adoption horizons: a year or less, two to three years, and four to five years. The areas of emerging technology cited for 2006 are:

  • Social computing
  • Personal broadcasting
  • Cell-phone-accessible educational content and services
  • Educational gaming
  • Augmented reality and enhanced visualization
  • Context-aware environments and devices

Each section of the report provides live Web links to example applications and additional readings.

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Barbara Dieu -
Thank you Terry. The Horizon white paper goes very much along the same lines as the Future Lab Uk research programme which evaluates the impact of technology on learning and teaching.

If you like black humour , you can contrast Ken Robinson's inspirational message to Rowan Atkins', who shows how most schools manage to deadmotivation and enthusiasm for learning.

Last year, Aaron Campbell, Rudolf Ammann (with whom I co-run Dekita.org) and I wrote an article  P2P AND LEARNING ECOLOGIES IN EFL/ESL,
which briefly introduces the peer-to-peer (P2P) concept and applies it to an educational context. We discuss both the pedagogical and technological prerequisites for peer-centered learning to occur, suggest possible social tools, and provide examples of EFL/ESL projects.

I have just got a mail from the Academic Commons announcing a special issue on blogging:
You.Niversity? A Review of Reconstruction's Special Issue: "Theories/Practices of Blogging", which may prove an interesting read for all in this discussion forum.
In reply to Barbara Dieu

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Michael Griffith -
Future Lab http://www.futurelab.org.uk/research/index.htm is a fabulous place to visit: so many perspectives on where we are going. Thank you Barbara for pointing this one out.
And thank you for the link to that special issue.... but could you please doublecheck the link for us. I have put in: http://scope.lidc.sfu.ca/http://www.academiccommons.org/commons/review/wiliarty-reconstruction-review
and I get a "NOT FOUND" result....
This might be your firewall getting back at mine!.... did you finally manage to log onto those LiveJournal URLs from some of my students? I sure hope so!
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Michael Griffith -
Terry has provided us with a link to one of the most powerful short lectures on the importance of nurturing creativity in our current over-intellectualized/intellectualizing educational context. This is wonderful stuff- PLEASE DON'T MISS IT - and thank you very much Terry for bringing it to our attention: http://www.ted.com/tedtalks/tedtalksplayer.cfm?key=ken_robinson
I say honestly that the principles behind his talk do empower my own somewhat radical insertion of Blogging into mainstream academic University Literature Courses. I am sure my old colleagues in the sandstone university which I attended 35 years ago would look with horror at how I have introduced "Blogging" into courses on Shakespeare!!.... But I find it empowers my students to express themselves creatively, with more freedom and in a way that actually liberates their contact with the text... Look at another example from my students last year. Here is Pete Tucker waxing lyrical about Shakespeare:

As I said in an earlier comment, Peter was/is by nature somewhat socially withdrawn and was insecure about his capacity to read "serious" literature... but Blogging brought him out of his restrictive shell and turned him into an icon for the rest of the class.

http://petetucker.livejournal.com/2006/04/20/ - on Shakespeare's King Lear
http://petetucker.livejournal.com/2006/04/27/- on John Donne
http://petetucker.livejournal.com/2006/05/11/ - on Andrew Marvell

I think these are fabulous examples of how a freedom from Academic modalities can help the creative spirit emerge.... power to the subversive face of Mr Blog!
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Michael Griffith -
.... and that Horizon Report looks a must for anyone in this seminar too:
http://www.educause.edu/content.asp?page_id=666&ID=CSD4387&bhcp=1
thank you Terry... for keeping us up to the minute!
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Timb Hoswell

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Silvana Carnicero -
I have not thought of using a blog as a way to discuss ideas or topics of interest since I have always used it as a way to exhibit and share production or work btu when I read this post and came to think of it. Blogging should foster communication: the comments will make a discussion go forward. In a virtual community I take part one of the teachers created one to discuss on the importance of errors in language learning, now I am thinking of creating one on a topic I am interested in to see how it works. Then, I'll give you the address so that you can give me your views on the topic.
In reply to Silvana Carnicero

Re: Both a serious academic tool and a place to build up an online portfolio.

by Michael Griffith -
Sounds good Silvana... let us know how the topic develops.
Thank you
Michael G