Learning with blogging

Subject: Information Studies. Course: Mobile and Social Media. Course level: Master. Course size: 12.

Motivation for the activity

We would like to explore new services, use and test them together with the students and discuss their different potentials. Blogging is a good way to do it, while at the same time it enhances the students' presentation skills.

Central learning outcomes for the activity

The aim of the activity is to teach the students to communicate and to increase their reception awareness.

This is about:

  • writing for specific target groups
  • use of audio, video etc.
  • receiving feedback.

Description of the activity

We invite the students to register for the "Digital Communication" blog on the blogging platform Pages.

The blog has been running for several semesters and contains contributions from different courses. The students can quite easily sort through the content via categorisations and tags.

I encourage the students to look at our tutorials blog and the workshop blog, where they can find answers to technical questions and find clarification of genre-related issues. This might be how to embed a video or how you write blog postings.

Before the individual lessons the students must upload their answers to the assignments they have received to the blog.

This could be an assignment where the groups have to find a case that relates to the theory they have read. We ask the groups to analyse the theory and to communicate their 'findings' in a blog posting. It could also be a reflection assignment in which the students discuss a phenomenon such as e.g. the learning potential of a social networking site.

Between each lesson I give feedback in the comments field under each blog posting, which both the individual group and the other students can benefit from. The comments are visible to everyone in the class.

I often conclude the teaching in plenum by using the blog postings as a starting point for a class discussion.

Outcome of the activity

I see a development in relation to how the students think about communication to the general public.

There is also a development in relation to using picture material in particular to support arguments. The students become better and better at using the blog's specific functions, divide the text into readable parts and taking the reader seriously - in particular when I also regularly comment on its form.

We also build up a ressource for the courses and the field which is continuously expanded. The oldest of our blog posts is from 2006.

Reflections on the activity

It is not given that the students are aware of the reader, who could be anybody. We spend time together defining the reader as someone who is interested in the field, but does not necessarily know about the given assignment. The reader could for example. be a future or former course student, lecturer or the like.

I often see blog postings with titles such as "Answer to assignment 3 from group 5" or similar. It is rewarding to react to that kind of thing and remind the students that they need to communicate with the 'reader' - not me.

I see a clear development from the first blog posting to the blog posts that are written later in the semester. That is why it makes sense to continually use the blog as a permanent part of the activities in and between the teaching. It is also pleasing to see the development that the students go through in relation to communicating what they have learned.

The students acquire writing skills related to the course from day one, which characterises their communication skills in the exam assignment at the end.

Anders Hjortskov Larsen

Development Consultant

What is Pages?

Pages has been created to experiment with a social network, groups and blogs for the students' and lecturers' work. It is available so that students and lecturers can communicate, collaborate and share knowledge - also across the courses and degree programmes. The basic principles behind Pages are openness and visibility.

Pages is run by Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Aarhus University. Read more about Pages (in Danish).