Blogs in the institution

wisdom-of-crowdsOn the eve of trialling blogs in NSW DET, I’m wondering after many years of using traditional communications tools (forums, emails, listservs) , what the uptake will be. The use of traditional CMCs has been largely confined to teachers administrative and PD activities. Use of the tools in teaching and learning in the school sector has been probably undertaken as an adjunct to the use of an LMS such as Moodle, and only of any significance in the Distance Ed arena.

Whether Web 2 collaborative tools will be different is yet to be determined. Literature on the success of blogs for eg. is mixed. Lin et al 2006 , confidently stated that blogs contribute to students online engagement, but Delaney et al  2005- claimed that blogs failed to even motivate students (one of the most acclaimed attributes). Are we then assuming that blogs and wikis will have better uptake than traditional CMCs? Accessing many of the CMC hasa been via LMSs or potals such as Edna or TaLe- there is a hit here in terms of  directly accessing the tools. To be successful I think the blogs/wikis need to be integrated with students natural practise, an adjunct of their other ‘social’  activities.  The more formalised the access routines to the blog the less students are likely to engage. The other key requirement for these tools is openness. The more restricted or ‘constructed’ the community engaging with the blog/wiki , the less likely there is going to be a natural flow of dialogue. These tools are premised on the collective wisdom of mass participation (surowiecki). They also work best on a lack of homogeneity- the lure of the different,/unknown can be a key motivator. Spontaneity of presence and contribution is also fundamental to their success. Given all this can any ‘institutionally’ developed and driven collaborative environment really elicit the same passion toward these tools? There’s a real challenge for any education dept.

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About thand

I'm a currently working at NSW Departrment of Education & Training, Connected Classrooms Program, Sydney.
This entry was posted in blogging, Blogs, Communities, LMS, Uncategorized, Web2, Wikis. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Blogs in the institution

  1. darcymoore says:

    Hi Tim, my school is involved in the ‘trials’ but not sure when this will commence. I was looking at ‘Curls’ last week and it realy is a pseudo-social bookmarking tool compared to what is freely available and used (like Delicious). I hope the blogging tool is able to match the functionality of WordPress or it is doomed, I fear.

    Some ask the question: why is DET developing a suite of Web 2.0 tools (after an incredibly lengthy wait) when so many free tools are available and can be customised to protect ‘online identities’?

    • thand says:

      Thanks Darcy- hopefully the DET tools will have a few value adds such as integrating with IDM, supports, appropriate work flows, filtering, other system integrations, media library and most importantly letting the field enhance it. trials are due to begin early May with the wiki tools to follow in term 3. I guess its always going to have a tension between opensource/community developed applications and those produced, by a sometimes less than responsive (inclusive) corporate house.

  2. darcymoore says:

    Yes, I’m sure there will be many benefits. The ‘field’ enhancing is critical. I wait with great anticipation to see if we have good participation. Our size could be our strength; often it is an achilles heel.

    I really buy into Twitter having a ‘sweet spot’ between work and play. I spend many hours away from ‘work’ working. The personal/private v public/work divide is gone for many in the age of always being ‘on’ and I wonder what you mean, exactly, by ‘work flow’? The observations about Gen Y wanting to do both work and play rther than (artificially?) divide them makes sense to me too (as a Gen X).

  3. thand says:

    Darcy- tapping into a long conversation here about formal and informal learning etc. These tools start to blur/bridge the divide. As Jay Cross says- informal learning constitutes the greater part of schooling. So ‘positining’ of these tools in the right spaces and for open access will be a big part of our challenge. But one we need to grow from the grass roots participators experiences.

  4. darcymoore says:

    To further tap into your formal and informal/grassroots comment, I firmly believe that pushing the PLN concept for educators and the PLE term for students is the way to give shape to what we need. I have finally understood, after reading conversations between and about Downes, Siemens and Warlick (and some interesting Twitter DMs), the genesis of these trerms (and their usefulness).

    I really believe that all staff need to be assisted to develop PLNs as a priority. It would allow teachers to ‘get’ how students need a PLE to become independent learners.

  5. Ben Jones says:

    Tim
    I argue the core value of all learning tools (LMS/Blog/Wiki/Emerging technologies/et al) is in the hands of the pedagogy that surrounds the tool. If the DET tool can match (and extend, as you suggest Thand) the current infrastructure of existing AJaX experiences then the engagement will occur in the pedagogy. Darcymoore I agree, non-complience is prevailing doom. However, regardless of the quality, if the pedagogy arround the learning tool is a flat mono-dimensional learning experience then the engament will be no different to the learning expereince associated with traditional writing. Just a lot more expensive.

    Ben 🙂

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