From Diversifying Economic Quality: A Wiki for Instructors and Departments
Blogs, short for web logs, are websites to which several individuals contribute. Users can post links, start discussions and comment on postings-among many other things. For a detailed explanation of what a blog entails, click here. Like in the case of powerpoints, as blogs become more and more popular the opportunity to use them as teaching tools increases. Economics blogs are already very popular.
Educators have recognized the potential of blogs and have taken advantage of the tool. Here are a few useful lessons learned:
-Cost! It is free to set up and monitor a blog.
-Monitoring. When deciding to use blogs as an educational tool, the educator must recognize that a time investment is necessary. Teachers must recognize this and actively participate in their blogs.
-Active participation allows the educator to monitor student understanding of the lessons and make clarifications where needed. Students are also more likely to take an active role in their education once they perceive an interest from their educator.
-Students will read, comment and respond to posts. In the process, they will be exposed to differing views on a similar topic, see tangential topics/arguments and be forced to defend their views. As a result, they will learn to build extensive arguments and make connections between differing topics. It is somewhat like a peer review system that results in full comprehension of the topics from the student's part.
-Informality. The informal, conversational style of blogs results in less pressure on students to 'sound smart.' Rather, it provides a colloquial setting that enables and encourages active participation. In a blog, the educator represents simply another participant and while authority is still held over students, they are more likely to open up under this setting. As students grow more and more comfortable 'blogging' with their educator, they are more likely to transfer this attitude to the classroom and become more active during lecture.
Here is a useful guide to using blogs in the classroom.
Click here to visit AEA's page on blogs, wikis and podcasts.
Churchill, 2009. In this article, Professor Churchill reviews his study in which a post-graduate class was assigned to maintain a blog as part of the curriculum. Upon implementing the blog for the semester, Prof. Churchill surveys the class on several aspects of the blog use and also provides his observations from the instructor point of view. From the study's results, it is asserted that students feel both like they are a bigger part of their own learning experience and their instructor is actively ensuring they learn. It is also observed that constant monitoring, posting from the educator's part, and making it a form of assessment are all necessary for effective student participation. See the chart below for a detailed description of the results. Click here to access the article.
Dyrud, 2005. "In its most basic form, a blog is simply a Web-based journal in reverse chronological order. It allows the writer to post ideas and thoughts quickly using conversational language for many to read. It allows the writer to link easily to other sites for support as well as for examples. And it provides a repository for such items. Also, both readers and writers are unrestricted to time and place. One new add-on tool even allows one to call in to make audio posts. Other add-ons include photo albums, guest books, polling tools, quizzing capabilities, and several others. Perhaps the most interesting feature is the ability of readers to comment on posts, making it a forum for interacting. It can be an extension of a classroom, where discussions are continued and where every student gets an equal voice. Or it can be a place where new ideas are formulated through collaboration. Since a basic blog is free and can be set up in less than 5 minutes, using them for both teaching and learning has low cost and high return on investment. Thus, the author states that using blogs to facilitate group work is an appropriate and an excellent medium for student-centered learning." Click here to access the short article.
Williams & Jacobs, 2004. This article provides a quick overview of the history of blogs along with their benefits in the classroom. The authors then profile the trial implementation of blogs by the Boston Graduate School of Business in both a Macroeconomics and an International Political Economy course. From this trial, student surveys were collected. Overall, students agreed the blog facilitated learning, served as a tool for the dissemination of knowledge, created a space for reflection and acted as medium for them to interact with one another. Students admitted that blog activity was motivated mainly by a desire to enrich their learning, but also emphasized that participation resulted because it was also a form of class assessment. Please click here to see the article.
Churchill, Daniel. "Educational Applications of Web 2.0: Using Blogs to Support Teaching and Learning." British Journal of Educational Technology 40.1 (2009): 179-83. Print.
Dyrud, M. A. "Blogging for Enhanced Teaching and Learning." Business Communication Quarterly 68.1 (2005): 77-80. Print.
Williams, Jeremy B., and Joanne Jacobs. "Exploring the Use of Blogs as Learning Spaces in the Higher Education Sector." Australasian Journal of Educational Technology20.2 (2004): 232-47. Print.