Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blogs and Aggregators

Blogs are an effective tool which can be utilised in the classroom. They allow learners to create; "a self-published website containing articles or posts of any kind of content, including text, pictures, video/audio, and links...[which] allows comments from readers" (RawVoice, 2007). The following video outlines the important learning that learners will acquire through the use of blogs.

This clip outlines that blogs create:
  • conversation
  • communication
  • literacy
  • ownership
  • sharing
  • collaboration
  • discussion 
  • empowerment 
  • interaction 
  • motivation 
  • participation 
  • engagement
  • excitement 
  • creativity 
  • reflection 
  • extend the walls of the classroom 
  • to give learners a 'voice' 
  • to give learners an 'audience' 
  • to give learners a learning environment open 24/7 
  • to give them skills useful for their digital futures

Blogs can also be utilised to provide authentic and relevant assessment to learners. These learning experiences need to have a real-world context and have a valuable outcome. There are many ways that learning managers can incorporate this. Learners could create an electronic where they would be able to; "collect their work in a digital archive; select specific pieces of work (hyperlink to artifacts) to highlight specific achievements; reflect on the learning demonstrated in the portfolio, in either text or multimedia form; set goals for future learning (or direction) to improve; and celebrate achievement through sharing this work with an audience, whether real or virtual" (Barrett, 2006). 

Learners can also use blogs to discover information and opinions from other people all over the world. Learners who have access to blogs become more knowledgeable about the diverse global world. Aggregators enhance the use of blogs for learners particularly when they are exploring blogs. They allow learners to find information and research within different topics easier. Aggregators are defined basically as a; "website or software program that gathers and displays web content... from multiple websites to a single location" (RawVoice, 2007).

An example for a specific teaching strategy would be to create a blog specifically based upon homework for all of the learners in the classroom. The learning manager could post the activities learners were to complete, and then learners would be able to access the blog at home and comment with their answers. Also, engaging websites and learning tools could be incorporated into the blogs for learners to access and interact with at home.  

A blog could be created to be used within science. In an experiment, learners could record their observations over a period of time using their own blog. This could contain images of the observations as well as text related to the changes occurring. Each learner could have their own blog and would have the opportunity to comment on their peers' blogs. 

Different KLAs can be incorporated into blogs which can create learning experiences which are multi-disciplinary. Also, it is important to note that diversity within the classroom can be catered for in using blogs. Blogs can be aligned to fit the Multiple Intelligences framework. Nearly all of the Intelligences can be provided for when creating blogs for learning experiences. The only Intelligence which isn't really catered for is Body Smart. In order for learners to create and explore their blogs, they need to be seated in front of the computer. This therefore limits their ability to be moving around in the classroom. However, a blog could be integrated into sport activities. Learners could have opportunities to post blogs about games they have discovered. They could also upload images of themselves doing sport outside, and receive comments relating to the images and a discussion of the level of skill shown. As well as ideas given for improvement. Word Smart is catered for within the use of literacy as learners have the potential to read and write when creating blogs. Number Smart can be catered for through the use of mathematical equations and activities writing by the learning manager into posts. Learners would then have the opportunity to comment to these posts and discover the answers to the problems. People Smart is definitely catered for. Learners can respond to others opinions and discuss information and research. Myself Smart can be catered for because learners are able to show their own opinions and display their strengths and weaknesses. This is particularly catered for if learners have the potential to create their own journal or diary entries. Nature Smart could be catered for through the use of observations of nature. Learners could also discover information about the environment and post it onto their blogs. Picture Smart could be catered for as learners are able to insert images or photographs of drawings or pictures into their blogs. Music Smart could be catered for through incorporating different websites with music on them, as well as asking learners to complete activities that are related to musical notes (Birmingham City Council, 2002-2009).

Higher-order thinking and creative thinking are very important in the development of learning experiences. They can be incorporated into any aspect of technology and it is very important for learning managers to be aware of this. Higher-order thinking encompasses a range of thinking. In particular, the examples for teaching and learning explained above, include evaluation, synthesis, analysis, application, comprehension and gathering and confirming knowledge. Creative thinking is included in the blog examples with, the problem solving of math problems, brainstorming through commenting others, the use of the imagination and so many more.

It is apparent that e-learning has a huge potential to educate all learners. Blogs are a great resource which can be used in a multitude of ways.

Cheers,
Kira.




References

Barrett, H. (2006). Authentic Assessment with Electronic Portfolios using Common Software and Web 2.0 Tools. Retrieved August 9, 2009, from http://electronicportfolios.org/web20.html

Birmingham City Council. (2002-2009). Multiple Intelligences. Retrieved August 9, 2009, from http://www.bgfl.org/bgfl/custom/resources_ftp/client_ftp/ks1/ict/multiple_int/what.cfm#2/ 

RawVoice. (2007). PodcastFAQ. Retrieved August 9, 2009, from http://www.podcastfaq.com/glossary/blogging-and-podcasting-terms/





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