Research evaluation has good news for blogging

It was great to discover some research with good things to say about using blogging for learning. This is also a great example of how evaluation can provide evidence for teaching and learning innovation.

"This article received an Outstanding Paper Award at ascilite Singapore 2007 Conference, gaining the additional recognition of publication of an expanded version in AJET. " (
Farmer, Yue & Brooks, (2008)

Reference: Farmer, B., Yue, A. & Brooks, C. (2008). Using blogging for higher order learning in large cohort university teaching: A case study. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 24(2), 123-136.

The evaluation is still being carried out and preliminary results indicate there is potential in using blogging to enhance learning.

The blogging trial was conducted and evaluated with 200+ first year students being team taught in a "Cultural Studies Program at the University of Melbourne"(p125). To ensure security and because the blogs were being assessed, a purpose-built platform called "CultureBlogging" was created, and the authors also mention it aided compatibility with a proprietary learning system.

It appears the exercise was overall well supported by students though grades were a little lower than those obtained through traditional assessment methods. Student feedback indicated that more scaffolding in the way of guidelines on how to write on a blog and how to write reflectively about themselves was needed.

"Although most students were generally media savvy in their uptake of new technologies and some were already familiar with the tools of blogging, most however were not necessarily familiar with the nature and possibilities of blogging as a self reflexive practice. More guidance on the pedagogical aims of blogging would possibly have helped make the exercise more user friendly and critically transformative"(Farmer et al., p8).

Only 56/200 responded to the questionnaire about the use of blogging in the course, but the researchers also have the blogs to examine and content analysis of these is continuing. There was positive and negative feedback about the blogging exercise but overall the researchers report on the use of blogging in a large group of students as worthwhile. They did pick up a conflict between students' perceptions of blogging and educational use and this is an area where they recommend some strategies will need to be applied.

"We would hope that by supporting, guiding and modelling use of modest Web 2.0 tools such as blogs we will be enablingstudents to take on ‘prosumer’ identities that are more significant and self aware than the simple phatic discourse of online sociability and the prosaic ‘daily diary’ experience that many students seem to associate with blogging" (Farmer et al., p12).