Sunday, November 2, 2014

How combine blog pedagogy and blended learning

Ari Myllyviita (University of Helsinki)
The working and learning environments are complex and there is new dimension: virtual environment. The blended learning more or less de facto learning method in high school, and it is coming also to lower secondary schools. Among adults the pressure from the labour market forces them to arrange time for studying in a new way – by using virtual environments and social media tools. It is possible to communicate widely and work collaboratively with new tools without being in a same place.
In this article I handle collaboration and communication in the blended learning courses mainly by using blogs. It is too often the case that you have to use those environment what official structure gives you. Nowadays it is not so any more. You can create your own virtual environments with quite simple start procedures (invitations, sign ups/ins, guides and first statements). Teacher´s role on taking ICT as a part of learning (bLearning) is crucial. You can found several technological gadgets, social media services for teaching and studying. To find real use and pedagogical reasoning to take those as a part of your daily work needs a process and a holistic view and new kind of teacher education (pre-service and in-service). New gadgets or services comes successful throw a development project as a part of large process.
Weblog or just blog–concept was launched by Jorn Barger (1997) over fifteen years ago. Basically blog is a simple web-page – nowadays blogs are created through special blog service like WordPress or Blogger. New communication technology allow the use of online (synchronize) or asynchronize type of interaction between peer students and between students and teachers. This make possible – called blog pedagogy – reflection between peers and between students and teacher. So in our distances learning period in blended learning is not just a independent work period but also more and more making possible meeting virtually – it could be called “avatar to avatar” –period (see Second Life) and online meeting (using tool like Adobe Connect Pro).
When we collect different ideas how to use blogs, we find them quite powerful, flexible and versatile tool:
  • as a diary, where writer tells about his experiences, happenings to the public, peers or teacher 
  • as a web journal, or as a pamphlet
  • as a portfolio, where blogist shows his artifacts, products and ideas under certain topic; it can be a documentation of the working or learning/studying process 
  • as a reflection tool, where blogs has tools for making, getting or sharing comments; there is opportunity to give feedback (or feed forward as I like to say): or as a tool for knowledge creation and delivering and a tool for assessment and evaluation 
  • as a discussion forum and as an organizer
The most important idea about blogs is the opportunity to make readers interaction possible. For teachers there is an important role to make this happen. If you compare blogs and wikis, the main difference is: blog texts are for comments and wikis are more for collaboration, creating texts together. In wiki all are participants (not audience or just readers).
What makes this all to be called a new pedagogical approach? First of all, this is way to make own reflection possible. When you combine reflection and documentation you have a powerful tools to develop your teaching and pupils learning. Secondly especially when it is question about artifact (material, immaterial), which needs a process, you can create a documentation all the phases and the final artifact. There is a possibility to reflect these phases or the collections of final artefacts (like portfolio). Thirdly blogs are useful in the asynchronized communication or should I say in interaction between participants and it is creating transparence to our studies.
 It is important that teacher finds a suitable communication or reflection tool and feels it practical and supportative tool (to support own teaching and guidance, and feels comfortable with it). Here blogs have to be mentioned.
REFERENCES Barger, J. (1997). Robot Wisdom weblog.