I am enjoying looking around at other classmates blogs, clicking on and investigating further into topics of particular interest to me and my teaching. It is an engaging and self-directed way to learn. It allows for the principles of andragogy to come into play. I am able to guide my learning to areas of relevancy to me. This allows for deeper learning. It also allows for the connection that students really need in this day and age. The cultivation of knowledge in the social sphere is very important to this generation (Barkley, 2010). Integrating social media is like speaking the language of our students. We must speak their same language or they cannot understand us.
As much as technology feels daunting to me I know I have to get over that for the benefit of my students’ learning. Creating the blog in my first PIDP 3100 seemed like the most daunting venture of my life. I was anxious and petrified and almost paralyzed to even start. I had the good fortune of my husband being technologically savvy (and patient!) and lending me a hand so that I could work my way through it. But I did it and it wasn’t so bad. So I must leap into this new technology era with open arms and know that I will not free fall but instead utilize my resources to support me. I know I am not alone in this intimidation of technology in the classroom. Oomen-Early and Burke (2007) article expresses how there needs to be a shift in attitude about using technology in the classroom in order to empower our learners.
Instructors should model the behaviours we want our students to develop and embrace (Helterbran, 2005). So if we ask our students to take risks with their learning than we as teachers should model this same thing. We can model taking risks and be transparent about that risk-taking journey. This will help students not only see their teachers as human, facilitating a connection with their teacher but it also encourages them that they can do the same too.
Quote reference: http://www.briantracy.com/blog/tag/comfort-zone/
I am brainstorming ways to incorporate blogs into my nursing program. I get excited just thinking about the possibilities. In our nursing program we have particular course streams that the students take in semester 1, 3 and 5. (Each of these courses build on the previous one(s)). I envision that when they take their first course in a stream, that a blog is created and that this blog is built upon throughout the years. I envision in our relational stream courses that the students share reflections with one another, ones they have selected that perhaps aren’t too personal that they are willing to share with their peers. And their peers, can provide them with feedback on these reflections by posing questions to take the learning even deeper building on critical thinking skills. There may be some opportunity for cross-class collaboration too. The ability for collaboration to occur between an even larger community enhances the learning possibilities. In one article by Sinclair & Zinger (2013) students posted their blog to the College-wide community and then expanded to worldwide. This larger scale collaboration promotes interdisciplinary and cross cultural collaboration and learning.
Blogs promote this notion of ‘anywhere anytime’ and it adds to the accessibility to students. They can integrate the learning into their busy lives, when they are ready to learn. It takes students’ learning beyond the walls of the classroom. When learning goes beyond these boundaries opportunities for learning are endless.
Some of the benefits of blogs outlined in the article by Oomen-Early and Burke (2007):
- Simple to create, implement, and use
- Provide a platform for quick online collaboration
- Rapid sharing of resources, knowledge, and links to information, as well as critical reflection and the debate of ideas.
- Teachers can respond to learners at a faster rate than discussion boards or other online methods
- Help to improve writing (students feel less anxious about writing a blog post than an academic paper; allowing them to feel more free about expressing oneself as a result and take risks)
- Give students a voice to reflect on content/concepts
- Encourages creativity and self expression
- Develops critical thinking skills
Some examples of blog usage include:
- Question blogs
- Topic discussions
- Study groups
- Journal entries/critical reflections
- Expert contributors
- Sharing of research and resources
For a great visual diagram on how to get started using blogs in your teaching, check out this link: Step by step guide for using blogging in the classroom (pdf)
Barkley, E.F. (2010). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Helterbran, V. (2005). Lifelong or school-long learning. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 78(6), 261-263.
Oomen-Early, J. & Burke, S. (2007). Entering the blogosphere:Blogs as teaching and learning tools in health education. Journal of Health Education, 10, 186-196.
Sinclair, A., Zinger, L. (2013). Using Blogs to enhance student engagement and learning in the health sciences. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 6(3), 349-351.