E-learning with web 2.0


E-language Blog (2012).png- ► category - Blogs are classic web 2.0 tools which allow users to share their thoughts and receive feedback. Many major blogging platforms have app versions for mobile devices, allowing them to be used for moblogging, i.e., mobile blogging (see Going Mobile below).

-what - Blogs are like online journals where you can post updates - in the form of text, pictures, audio or video files - as often (or as rarely) as you like. The image at left shows a screen capture from Mark Pegrum's E-language blog.

- ► why - A blog can function as a reflective diary but it can also be the centrepiece of a conversation, since readers can leave comments for the blog's author and each other, forging connections and community around topics of mutual interest. Advantages for students include the fact that they are writing for a wider audience - whether the entire internet on a public blog, or a more restricted group of class peers on a private class blog - and can receive feedback, thus co-constructing knowledge with others as they develop their online personas. Blogs are commonly 'in conversation' with one another, as bloggers link to and comment on each other's ideas.

- ► how - For a light-hearted introduction to the principles underpinning blogs, see Lee LeFever's video Blogs in Plain English. For information on creating blogs, see Adam Marchant's ICTAdam, a blog which guides teachers through the process of setting up and getting the most out of blogs. For further information on the use of blogs in education, see The Edublogger, SupportBlogging's Educational Blogging or Konrad Glogowski's reflective Blog of Proximal Development. You might also like to take a look at the YouTube video Top 10 Reasons to Use Blogs in the Classroom.

- ► where - Blogs can be quickly and easily set up at no cost. Free blog hosting services include Blogger (with web addresses ending in blogspot.com), Edublogs, LiveJournal and WordPress.com, though payment may sometimes be required to have ads removed or certain functions added. TypePad and Wordpress.org are paid services (with the latter requiring payment for a hosting service). A good blogging site to use with young learners is Kidblog.
For a comparison of popular blogging services, see the Blog Software Review.

- ► going mobile - For information on moblogging, see the Multimedia Recording page of the E-language wiki. Nowadays there are numerous mobile apps like Kid's Journal that lend themselves to blogging.

- ► examples - For examples of what blogs can look like, see Mark Pegrum's E-language blog (created with Edublogs) or the many blogs by pre-service teachers at the University of Western Australia (created using a variety of blogging services, as indicated in the web addresses).

You can find an extensive list of blogs in the Edublogs directory. For a set of blogs by a class of English learners, you might like to try Internet English with Amanda; or for a blog by an advanced English learner, see Kyle Chan. For examples of communal class blogs, see Top 21 Class (a communal blog for English learners, with an intercultural focus) or First_year@UniMelb (a blog for first-year students at Melbourne Uni).For blogs by tertiary level exchange students, see the blogroll on the Blogging from Stuttgart webpage. For blogs by pre-service teachers, see those on the blogroll of the Teaching & Learning with ICTs course. For a blog used to write a set of hyperlinked notes during a seminar, see Librarian's Web 2.0 Travels, where the entries from late 2011 relate to the Emergent Technologies course. For blogs used to reflect on lessons learned while building online resources, see Cameron's Space or Wiki Thoughts. For a blog that functions somewhat like an e-portfolio, see Fairy Lucky. For a blog consisting of video ads created by EFL students, see the English Advertising Class.

You can also see screen captures of a number of blogging projects on the student projects page of this wiki. For good examples of blogs about e-learning and/or digital technologies, see the blog feeds page, which includes the feed from danah boyd's blog, Apophenia, embedded on the right.

In the UK, the practice of Quadblogging - setting up blogging projects involving four schools - has recently become very popular. To sign your class up for an international Quadblogging activity, see Quadblogging.com.

- ► variations - Variations on the basic idea of blogging include Tumblr, a service for creating 'tumblelogs' composed of text, images and other media (where the conversational aspect of blogs is downplayed, with a plug-in required to allow reader comments) and Storify, a service for creating a story composed of excerpts from various social media services. To publish constant instantly online, without the need to set up a website, blog or wiki, try Checkthis.

- ► dangers - The main dangers are a lack of privacy and inappropriate feedback. To avoid problems, blogs can be made private (visible only to class members) or, in the case of public blogs, students can be warned not to include identifying information (such as addresses or personal photos). Another common problem with blogs is lack of peer feedback, but this can be compensated for by a task structure which requires students to comment on a minimum number of their peers' postings.

- ► more - For academic and journalistic references about blogs, see the E-learning references page. You'll also find current information in the E-learning tag cloud. For visual representations of the blogosphere, see Matthew Hurst's Data mining: Mapping the blogosphere.

Credits: The image above left shows an excerpt from the title bar of the E-language blog, hosted by Edublogs. I'm grateful to Michael Coghlan, Sophie Ioannou-Georgiou, Giedre Kligyte and Tama Leaver for a number of blog examples listed above; I owe the Top 10 Reasons video to Matt Outred, the Kidblog link to Tilly Hilton, and the Quadblogging link to Adam Marchant.

Contact: There's no such thing as a finished wiki. Like all wikis, this one is a work in progress and there will be changes from time to time in organisation, content and links. However, don't let that stop you from contacting me at any time with comments, suggestions or questions.