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Blogging to support Inquiry-based learning (IBL) Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield Andrew Cox Sheila.

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Presentation on theme: "Blogging to support Inquiry-based learning (IBL) Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield Andrew Cox Sheila."— Presentation transcript:

1 Blogging to support Inquiry-based learning (IBL) Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield Andrew Cox (, Sheila Webber, Phil Levy & Peter Stordy Shock conference, University of Oxford, March 2007

2 2 Outline I Brief context II Why we decided to include a group blog for staff and for students in our module III What is blogging? IV What staff learned from blogging V How we set up the blogs/assessment VI More doubts and questions

3 3 I Context: CILASS – a CETL Centre for Inquiry-based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences A Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning 5 year programme, £4.85M in total Includes £2.35M capital funding Focusing on inquiry-based learning Core community: Faculties of Arts, Social Sciences, Law Development, innovation and research CILASS hub located in the Information Commons plus satellite in Bartolome House See

4 4 Two definitions of IBL Inquiry refers to instructional practices designed to promote the development of high order intellectual and academic skills through student-driven and instructor-guided investigation of student- generated questions (McMaster University) An array of classroom practices that promote student learning through guided and, increasingly, independent investigation of complex questions and problems, often for which there is no single answer (North Carolina State University) Strongly process- (not content-) driven

5 5 Inquiry-based learning (IBL) Modelling the process of research within the student learning experience Student-directed, open-ended inquiry Problems; case scenarios; small- and large-scale investigations Full IBL – the design principle for whole modules/programmes Hybrid IBL – activities incorporated into more traditional curricula

6 6 Why IBL? Active and deep engagement with discipline- based learning Experiencing supercomplexity – messy, open- ended problems and questions Developing capabilities of relevance to critical and creative engagement with employment, social participation, lifelong learning Strengthening relationship between research and teaching See

7 7 Other CILASS agendas Use of IT / new spaces Group work Information Literacy

8 8 (INF106) Inquiry in Information Management Level 1, UG module First-years generating their own research questions Working together and with tutors on small-scale research projects Using technologies – blogs, WebCT Vista Collecting and analysing data, presenting posters at research conference 18 students – 4 staff and a TA! Does Facebook support students personal information management? What does mobile phone user behaviour contribute to detrimental environmental effects and how can these be reduced?

9 9 II Why blog? CILASS agenda Our previous experience of blogging Web2.0 – its what the kids on the street are doing ??? Eg see,

10 10 Student questionnaires: mean score h. Instant Messenger (MSN, AIM…) 3.61 d. MySpace, Friendster, Facebook or similar service 2.83 m. Youtube 2.70 l. BBC news 2.48 j. Wikipedia 2.30 c. ebay 2.17 e. Yahoo groups or other forums 1.43 k. Skype (or other voice over IP phone) 1.39 i. Video conferencing 1.04 b. Flickr or other photosharing web site 1.00 f. Blogger or other blogging site 1.00 g. Technorati 0.09 a. 0.04 I have ever heard of it =0 I have heard of it but never used it =1 I use it occasionally =2 I use it weekly =3 I use it daily =4

11 11 Q.13 Roughly how many texts do you send each day? Note: 2 people answered "few" which was counted as 2 Note: 1 person said 0-1, which we counted as 1 Mean10.41 Mode10 20 or more4 individuals No one said 0, ie said they didn't have a mobile phone.

12 12 Q.6 Do you have your own web site(s) or blog(s)? YES = 6/23; 0.26 This is quite low relative to the claim that the boundary between consumer and producer is blurring! Except use of SN sites are orientated towards contributing content

13 13 II Why blog? CILASS agenda Our previous experience of blogging Web2.0 – its what the kids are doing ??? If it were true this would be questionable, but actually it didnt seem to be true Vaguely constructivist feel (eg see Barrett 2006) Restrictions of WebCT Availability of supported implementation of Webpress [Thank you Richard @ CiCs!]

14 14 III What is blogging? Blogging1 – anything you do with a blogging tool Blogging2 – blogging as emerging genre(s) (Miller and Shepherd 2004) Herring (2004, 2005) differentiates filter and diary style blogs

15 15 IV What we learned (but we should have known it already) 1.Although blogging is easy web publishing; Blogging is difficult. Technical issues Writing is difficult Finding a style is difficult (eg Barrett 2006:109) Informal writing is often bad (ie intellectually weak) LESSON: Define appropriate style, this is probably in line with essay writing style CAUTIONS See

16 16 IV What we learned 2. The blogging and commenting of others is quite stressful eg because they misunderstand what (you think) you wrote LESSON advise people to be constructive in commenting CAUTIONS

17 17 IV What we learned 3. Blogs are not good for discussion Asymetrical communication structure Forums are better (Notwithstanding they arent that good for discussion either (eg because diverge (Hewitt 2001) and massive amounts of anticipation of turn taking) LESSON advise keeping blog entries brief LESSON make explicit effort to draw conclusions from discussion CAUTIONS

18 18 IV What we learned 4. Blogs are not good for making decisions LESSON We planned to offer the student blogs as project management tools, but it might be better to see them as project reporting tools CAUTIONS

19 19 IV What we learned 5. Group blogs have lots of problems Blogging2 expects an individual author Personalisation eg posting images is too strong LESSON group can only effectively blog within clearly identified parameters CAUTIONS

20 20 IV What we learned 6. There are lots of limits on what can be said publicly on a blog Its not a complete record LESSON Define clearly what is going to be blogged and what is not CAUTIONS

21 21 IV What we learned 7. The blog did increase inter-team communication, hyperconnected us (Koku et al 2001, Quan-Haase and Wellman 2006) POSITIVES

22 22 IV What we learned 8. Collision of styles is interesting Ss advocacy – long pieces, authority of experience As critical, deliberately challenging – trying to bring in some theory; also felt blog entries should be short QUESTION But can group blogging really express/ synthesise these different voices? POSITIVES

23 23 IV What we learned 9. Categorisation seemed a very useful tool For sorting postings at a later point for review – so in the right context could support a reflective learning process POSITIVES

24 24 V How we set up the students blogs: Blog guidelines I Reports on group work, meetings and project progress; Reflections on how well the project is going, and any problems you encounter; A final summary of your research results; A group mindmap of IM, highlighting the area you are researching in your project; A downloadable version of your poster. So essentially its blogging1

25 25 Blog guidelines 2 It might also include Responses to comments on your blog entries by other class groups or friends and module staff Entries which reflect on the value of the blog itself as a way of communicating within the group or with other groups, e.g. has sitting down to write a blog entry helped you understand something you were working on? Has a comment from someone else influenced how you thought about the research project? Reflections on whether you feel an inquiry-based approach to learning has been useful to you in carrying out your project We will also be looking at the presentation and quality of use of the blog overall.

26 26 Processes and tips Jin (the TA) give encouragement Part of group sessions in class given over to creating a blog look and feel (week 7) Putting up useful references (week 7) Session looking at others blogs and commenting Page of brief tips based on the lessons above (

27 27 How we set up the students blogs Group blog (assessed) Poster (assessed) Group discussion board (unassessed) F2f meetings with tutors (unassessed) Individual personal journal (asssessed) Other communication (unassessed) VISIBLE ….. less visible

28 28 VI Doubts and questions Visibility, privacy and surveillance Advantages: include wider groups, practice of writing for audience, seeing fellow students work Risks to the institution of students blogging in a public space Risks of revealing backstage of teaching Risks to students in being identified or exposed

29 29 VI Doubts and questions Constructivist teaching (deep learning, learning as an identity change etc) has a feeling of a normative regime Especially where learning is in a group – potential for moral suasion Is informal good? (eg Fairclough 2003)

30 30 References Burgess, J. (2006) Blogging to learn, learning to blog In Bruns, A. and Jacobs, J. (Ed.s) Uses of blogs, New York, Peter Lang. Fairclough, N. (2003) Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research, London: Routledge. Hewitt (2001). Beyond Threaded Discourse, International Journal of Educational Telecommunications 7(3), 207-221 Herring, S. C., Scheidt, L. A., Bonus, S., and Wright, E. (2005). Weblogs as a bridging genre. Information, Technology & People, 18(2), 142-171. Koku, E., Nazer, N. and Wellman, B. (2001) "Netting Scholars: Online and Offline" American Behavioral Scientist, 44 (10): 1750-72. Miller, C.R. and Shepherd, D. (2004) Blogging as Social Action: A Genre Analysis of the Weblog. html Quan-Haase, A. and Wellman, B. (2006) In Charles Heckscher and Paul Adler (Ed.s). The Firm as a Collaborative Community: Reconstructing Trust in the Knowledge Economy, New York: Oxford University Press, 281-333.

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