Why you need to consider blogging as a pedagogy to facilitate learning

Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

I was inspired by a blog post written by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano (known as @langwitches on Twitter) which begins by saying

“Blogging should not be an add-on, not an isolated project, but should be seen as PEDAGOGY”

It made me consider my approach to blogging, something I have developed only in the last 4-5 years. I now have a collection of blogs I write, each serving a different but valuable purpose.

Teaching

The first blog I created was actually to demonstrate what blogging was to my students and to show them how to create a blog, insert images, video and audio. They were the writers and used the blogs to create online newspapers. When I then introduced how social media could be used to promote the blogs using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, it occurred to me that rather than just talk about the topic using a few PowerPoint slides, I could develop a blog to capture this information. This provided two outcomes – I could demonstrate blogging in practice and I was curating information in an open space that could be of value for anyone interested in the topic.

Academic Development

In addition to teaching I was also introducing colleagues to social media. This in turn raised questions and I found that by writing a blog post to answer these also contributed to a useful collection of information I could help the person raising the question but also signpost to others when the same questions came up again.

Reflective Practice

I then went on to create a blog I used for reflective writing. I was inspired by my colleague Professor Richard Hill to adopt this process when he told me that each day he writes for 15 minutes to collect his thoughts and goes on to reflect upon these, develop ideas and take these on to write academic papers and indeed a book. My reflective blog is private and this provides a space to write freely and often disjointedly although it makes sense to me!

Curation

Another blog I keep which again is private is my treasure chest of resources I gather. Here I can create anew post, grab the url of the item I am reading and make a few notes. Then I can tag each of these posts with keywords and by adding a tag cloud to the blog (a visual of all tags) click on a particular tag word to then bring up all the posts I’ve written with that tag. It helps me to organise the vast array of things I read that I may wish to come back to. Because it is private I don’t have to worry how each post looks or explain what it means – I can write a sentence or a page. It is my scrapbook if you like.

Open Courses

With my colleague Chrissi Nerantzi we have run an open course called Bring Your Own Devices for Learning twice now and have used WordPress to create the course site. The blog posts introduce the participants to the course and in this instance the daily themes. The comments facility enables anyone to interact with the posts.

TweetChats

Another project with Chrissi Nerantzi and colleagues David Walker and Peter Reed is #LTHEchat which is a weekly twitterchat about learning and teaching in higher education. The chat will take place in Twitter but we also have a WordPress site http://lthechat.com/ where we share information about the tweetchat, a poll to vote for topics for future chats and as a space to archive the chats once they have taken place.

My own learning

I personally learn from other peoples’ blogs and am immensely grateful they openly share their knowledge, their views and perspectives on topics, but also the processes they go through. Silvia’s blog is a case in point. Below is her blog about why she thinks blogging should be seen as a pedagogy in itself and how it can be used to facilitate learning through the process of reading, writing, reflecting and sharing.


Silvia’s post:

Blogging can support the strategies, techniques and approaches to facilitate the learning in your classroom no matter what grade level, age group and subject area. Blogging supports four primary areas:

  1. Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Reflecting
  4. Sharing

In each one of these areas, blogging can be a strategy to facilitate learning

Reading

  • in digital spaces support students’ skills in our increasingly digital reading environment
  • becomes a personalized content experience versus one size fits all approach
  • turns into a collaborative and connected experience
  • in digital spaces supports organization via archiving, categorizing and tagging of information
  • blogs is the start that continues to deepen with writing on blogging platforms
  • is part of research with non- linear platforms
  • is an essential component of content curation
  • supports content annotation which links to future writing

Writing

  • is about more than text (how do we communicate in a variety of media forms?)
  • gives students choices to communicate ideas in different media platforms
  • on a blog is writing for an audience
  • is about a conversation through commenting
  • becomes multi-layered and non-linear by using hyperlinks to connect ideas, concepts and resources
  • in digital spaces give students skills for our increasingly digital world

Reflecting

  • can’t be just for reflection sake, but needs to drive improvement
  • is the basis of re-evaluating your teaching and practices
  • techniques can be supported by Making Thinking Visible Routines
  • is part of a meta-cognitive (thinking about your thinking) process

Sharing

  • is part of the feedback loop
  • is an integral part of the process of learning
  • is how you disseminate your students’ work to a global audience
  • as a technique of building and maintaining a digital footprint
  • is the foundation of a remix culture

Read more at: http://langwitches.org/blog/2014/06/03/blogging-as-pedagogy-facilitate-learning/ | Langwitches Blog

Silvia’s blog is a treasure chest of information and I recommend you also follow her on Twitter.

About Sue Beckingham

An Educational Developer and Senior Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.
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