One of the most substantial gains that classroom blogging can contribute to an academic class is that blogging is a forum through which students are encouraged to actively participate consistently. On a blog, there is no privacy to keep ones rambling thoughts and ideas from being shared with the greater part of the class. Therefore, the peer-reviewing pressure encourages students to bring their “A-game” for each post that they publish to a class blog. Furthermore, this type of classroom communication allows others to critically evaluate others work by commenting underneath each post. Such a technique enables students to be actively engaged in others contributions to the class, ultimately forcing students to read other individuals’ thoughts as well as critically evaluate these posts. Students are also able to receive immediate feedback from comments from fellow classmates.
The theory behind “two heads is better than one” has shown to be true. We are all indelibly ingrained with unique ways of perceiving and processing information, thus our different neural networks allow us to take differing perspectives on the same issues. Through blogging, students are able to learn from others’ posts and work off of these ideas to produce a better end-product. Even better, all of these ideas are captured on one forum, as opposed to spread out in individual papers. All students have access to all ideas, whether recent or old.
Utilizing a psychological approach, there are numerous apparent advantages from utilizing a blog in a classroom. Blogging is a way for students to reflect and write about certain topics that are either brought up in the classroom or related in some way. Research has shown that in reflecting on topics, students are able to better learn and retain the information relevant to that area (McKillop, 2005)*. Reflection has also been shown to enable students to develop a sense of agency in their learning (Eyler, 2002)*. Such practice is invaluable to the student body, as once we are honored in commencement, we are seen as being capable of pursuing personal education on our own. Therefore, it seems only practical to practice and become well-versed with one of the best tools to monitor and publish our own personal learning experiences: the blog.
Although positives that support the use of classroom blogging seem impossible to deny, this tool also comes with some downsides. The transparency of blogging is a sure way to either motivate or de-motivate some students, depending on their ability to look at this activity in a positive light. Some students may seem themselves incapable of keeping up with their peers in length, quality, or consistency of writing. In doing so, they may lack motivation to compete with their peers at their level of writing.
Secondly, if students are consistently receiving negative comments on their posts, they may become distraught and unmotivated to continue trying. This is known as learned helplessness in the psychological world, and this status can have debilitating effects on the education of students. Thus, it is important to ensure that every student is enjoying the utilization of classroom blogging.
*McKillop, C. (2005). Storytelling grows up: Using storytelling as a reflective tool in higher education. Paper presented at the Scottish Educational Research Association conference (SERA 2005), November 24-26, Perth, Scotland.
*Eyler, J. (2002). Reflection: linking service and learning – linking students to communities. Journal of Social Issues, 58, 517-534.