What are the possibilities of blogging for education?
Everybody is talking about blogs, a lot of people even have their own blog, but the scientific debate about blogging is still in the beginning. This article tries to answer the questions: what are the educational benefits and possibilities of blogging; how can you support learning/teaching using blogs? Therefore I was searching for recent articles and found an interesting one written by Ralf Appelt. The article ‘Einsatzpotenziale von (Micro-)Blogging in der Weiterbildung’ [Application potentials of (micro-)blogging for advanced education] (Appelt, 2010) is published in the book ‘E-Learning in Hochschule und Weiterbildung: Einsatzchancen und Erfahrungen’ [E-learning for universities and advanced education: application chances and experiences] (Holten & Nittel, 2010).
In the beginning of Appelt’s article is a short introduction of the different forms of blogs and his functions; he differentiates between Microblog, Tumblelog and Weblog. Then he sketches the fundamental kind-of-use of blogs in informal and formal learning scenarios. Unfortunately he does not give a definition of these terms, so the chapter is a bit superficial and not well structured. However you can get an impression of these two different scenarios. In the end – the most important part – he presents examples how organizations, teachers or even learners can use blogs as a support for their educational process. These examples are:
- Blog as public learning diaries: Learning diaries are supporting the documentation of your own learning process. This documentation represents two kinds of knowledge. Firstly ‘knowledge of first order’ respectively specialized knowledge/expertise. Secondly, ‘knowledge of second order’. This covers the knowledge about, how you gain the knowledge (meta-knowledge) and the media-knowledge, how to operate different tools.
- Blog as a feedback channel: The feedback channel offers authors and commentators a platform to exchange ideas/information/suggestions. Therefore it does not matter where you are.
- Blog as a medium for knowledge transfer: Blog posts are mostly more than simple collections of links or more than the result of copy & paste processes. Even links, quotations or similar are mostly annotated, categorized, seen as relevant or otherwise contextualized. Through the construction/arrangement of the content and its contextualization does the blog author build his own knowledge base and his personalized learning setting. The reader can also perform a contextualization during his reception of the presented content and he can participate through the interaction possibilities. This whole process refers to the constructive learning theory: it is not about the passive acquisition of knowledge; it is more about a connected knowledge structure which is constructed by the learner.
- Personal blog: Personal blogs gives you the possibility to support experience transfer and to access the just-in-time learning content. Further it is a good possibility to get in contact with people, to contribute to community building and to support communities of practice.
In my opinion, Appelt’s article gives you an impression of educational blogging, especially for beginners in this field. All things considered it is just the beginning of a debate about blogs for education. Until now it is not very popular to use blogs to train/teach people at different organizations or institutions. Of course, it does not make sense to force students or employees to use blogs in an educational context. Nevertheless institutions and organizations should at least support blogging because a self-paced use of blogs can offer possibilities to support the personal learning process. This support requires for example an appropriate learning culture in which the blogger can express his/her ideas freely to use the chances of blogging entirely. Privacy and copyrights are big issues as well that should be considered. But once you have gained experiences with a personal and well elaborated blog, you do not want to miss this pool of knowledge anymore. So there are indeed theoretical and practical arguments for the use of different blog formats in the educational field, especially for advanced education (Appelt, 2010).
Appelt, R. (2010). Einsatzpotenziale von (Micro)Blogging in der Weiterbildung, In R. Holten & D. Nittel (Hrsg.), E-Learning in Hochschule und Weiterbildung: Einsatzchancen und Erfahrungen (S. 147-162). Bielefeld: W. Bertelsmann Verlag.