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 and can be an easy way to introduce students to current issues in Economics.
In this article, Daniel Churchill, professor at the University of Hong Kong, examines the use of blogs as part of the curriculum in a post-graduate class . Churchill surveyed the class on how they felt about using blogs and also provided his observations from the instructor's point of view. The study's results show that students feel both like they are a bigger part of their own learning experience and that their instructor is actively ensuring they learn. It is also observed that constant monitoring, posting on 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.
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.
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
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.