An Analysis of Integrating Social Media in Curriculum – Part 3 Blogs

Application in curriculum

Blogs are a versatile online tool that can be used in any subject area. Educators can have students set up blogs as individuals, partners or groups on a specific topic, unit or entire course. For example, in English courses it can be used as a medium for journal entries or reflective entries on novels, class material or to improve general writing skills. In math it can be used as a reflective journal entry to explain the theories behind mathematical concepts or used as a discussion/solving area for problem solving questions. In science courses, it can be used as a lab journal that records lab reports with safety measures, observations, problem statements, results and conclusions. It can be used in art courses to discuss art history or to post various pieces of art to be analyzed or reflected upon. There are a number of differences between a blog and a hardcopy journal. First, a blog can be edited by a number of authors (if set up with multiple authors). Second, a blog is accessible to everyone or to no one (depending on settings and its purpose). Third, educators can access student blogs in an instant and can comment directly into the blog. This allows for instantaneous communication. Lastly, blogs can be accessible with a computer or smart mobile device.

Student’s perspective

As a student, I use a blog to document my knowledge, learning and understanding of educational related material. I started my blog during this Master’s program. I use it to post my perspective on educational curriculum, leadership, theorists and to reflect on my learning in education. It is an effective way to record ideas, thoughts and reflections as well as to share material (e.g. videos and diagrams) with others. It also serves as a reminder that I aim to be a lifelong learner and that my posts reflect ongoing learning and thinking. Also, very recently I have set up a private blog for my Master’s project “Integrating Robotics into Curriculum” which is open to my host teacher and supervisors. It will help us to stay in regular communication about my project, proposal and any epiphanies anyone may have.

Challenges

There are a few challenges associated with blogging in an educational setting. The first is that it is tricky to assess students on blogs which are written in pairs or groups. Assessment criteria would need to be based on a group effort in those cases. Although, in cases where a blog is used as an instrument for raw thought, ideas and collaboration formal assessment may not be necessary. A related problem to assessment is the transparency of blogs. If blogs are made public within the class, all students have access to each other’s work. This could pose a problem in terms of plagiarism or inappropriate use of idea sharing. To address this issue, it would be wise for teachers to put in place a discussion to create structure and guidelines for appropriate blog use and have students create an agreement chart that can be signed. Lastly, similar to FB and Twitter, blogs pose the challenge of accessibility. Blogs can be only be accessed with a computer or mobile device with internet. These privileges may not be a reality for all students and thus educators must be aware of that if using blogs.

One way to help understand and account for differences in digital literacy and text forms is differentiating between asynchronous or synchronous media forms (Merchant, 2007). Thus, this can help to determine effective assessment strategies. It also raises valuable questions including: should spelling/grammar be assessed if it’s synchronous? Who gets credit for asynchronous work? Are HOTS being displayed in asynchronous forms of media?

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