Amold Nicholas E. Santos

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					           Blogs As ALearning Space: Creating Text of Talks

                                  Amold Nicholas E. Santos

                               University of the East Manila
                                         Philippines
                          E-Mail: arnoldnicholassantos@ymail.com



Abstract

         This paper explored the pedagogical preparations taken by the researcher in
integrating blogs to the traditional classroom experience as well as its use in online
classes as a tool for students to write about what they have learned in class and relate
it to everyday life. The researcher utilized web blog, combined Facebook and Multiply
blogsites, in the online teaching. Utilization of blogsites to supplement the traditional
method of teaching was a welcome innovation for most students. The study involved
thirty-eight (38) enrolled students of the course English 111. The familiarity and
convenience of facebook and multiply blogsites makes learning and complying to
requirements an enjoyable task. Blogs as a learning space for English 111 was an
effective teaching methodology appreciated by the students. However, the integration
of blogs in the traditional teaching learning process requires preparation and
planning on the part of the teacher so that applicable and timely activities could be
given to the students.



Introduction                                     One of the most popular embodiments of
                                                 freedom of speech in the internet is the web
The increasing prevalence of the use of the      log, or, as most commonly called, a blog.
internet in virtually every aspect of life has   This is akin to an online diary or journal,
led everyone to gravitate towards it as the      where users are allowed to upload texts
universal medium of communication or             containing their opinions, viewpoints, or
medium of expression. The freedom that the       even narrations of their experiences. A lot of
internet grants its users is unheard of in the   internet sites have already accepted blogs as
old world of written, spoken and broadcasted     the medium of expression for the majority of
media, as less and less scrutiny, bias and       internet users, supplanting messaging
pressure to conform is experienced. Freedom      services and even e-mail, and are now
of expression is uncurtailed, therefore          providing more and more services catering to
allowing people to be more expressive and        the whims of the online blogger. As a result,
creative in voicing out their opinions or        more and more communities are adopting
points of view. Not to mention the ease of       blogs as their way to communicate to the
use, its accessibility and availability all      outside world, be it corporations, small
around the world, and endless possibilities      business, celebrity personalities, athletes, or
for media, limited only by the technology of     even students and educators alike. However,
its time and the availability of the hardware    the use of blogs so far has been mainly for
and/or human resource.                           promotion, or informational, or even vanity.
                                                 The practical use of blogs as a tool in, for
instance, education, has not yet been widely      and blog entries. The website was launched
explored or utilized to its full extent.          in March 2004 and is privately held with
                                                  backing by VantagePoint Venture Partners,
In education, the most widely used form of        Point Judith Capital, Transcosmos, and
instruction has been the traditional classroom    private investors headquartered in Boca
delivery. This has been the norm for              Raton, Florida.7     Multiply has over 11
thousands of years, and its effectiveness         million registered users.8
cannot be understated. However, in this
modern day and age, technological advances        Allowing a similar approach as one would
have allowed us to use certain facilities and     with an online community, but only offering
services that will not replace, but rather        the necessary feature of communication and
augment,      the    traditional     classroom    back-and-forth discussion, it enables students
experience. This allows the educator to teach     and instructors to optimize the flow of
outside the box, to approach the art of           discussion     through      both     channels.
instruction from different angles, and to give    Knowledge is not anymore spoon-fed to
a refreshing new image to the role of             students, but rather it is now students and
instructor in the process of learning for the     instructors collaborating, with the student
student. The use of multimedia, online            receiving the traditional learning content,
communities, distance learning, and online        and the instructors receiving feedback on the
courses are just some examples of how the         learning experience in real-time, allowing
modern instructor has leveraged technology        them to adjust and/or conform to his/her
to enhance the learning experience.               audience in the shortest amount of time.

And now with the advent of blogging as the        But as in any integration process, there are
main medium of instruction for this               obviously things to consider in using blogs
generation of students, with sites such as        as a medium for instruction. It is important to
Facebook and Multiply getting headway in          determine at what level or part of the
the preference of the majority of the             educational process should blogs be
blogging community, we are now inclined to        integrated so as to use them properly, and
look at blogging as an advantage and further      also for it to not interfere with the existing
increasing the capability of the instructor.      standard and become a hindrance rather than
                                                  a facilitator of learning.
Facebook1, founded by Mark Zuckerbergis
and fellow computer science students              This paper explored the pedagogical
Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and             preparations taken by the researcher in
Chris Hughes2, is a social networking             integrating blogs to the traditional classroom
website launched in February 2004 that is         experience as well as its use in online classes
operated and privately owned by Facebook,         as a tool for students to write about what
Inc.,3 with more than 500 million4 active         they have learned in class and relate it to
users in July 2010.5 Users can add people as      everyday life. It involved thirty-eight (38)
friends and send them messages, and update        enrolled students of English 111 section
their personal profiles to notify friends about   BHA handled by the researcher during the
themselves. Additionally, users can join          first semester of 2010 – 2011. The researcher
networks organized by workplace, school, or       utilized web blog in online teaching. The
college, as in this case, a facebook account      topics covered were the following: 1).
of the course English 111.                        Simple Present Tense, 2). Simple Past Tense,
                                                  3). Future tense, 4). Present Perfect Tense,
Multiply6, the same with facebook, is also a      5). Past Participle of Regular and Irregular
social networking website which allows            Verbs, and Past Perfect Tense.
users to share media - such as photos, videos
Theoretical Framework                            credibly, accurately, and carefully. Blogging
                                                 represent a democratization of information
The researcher is guided by the Engagement       dissemination providing each student with
Theory9 advocated by Greg Kearsley and           the opportunity to publicly present their
Ben Shneiderman in the conduct of this           thoughts. Seeing their work published on the
study.                                           web is a great motivator for them. The
                                                 learning environment increases students’
Engagement theory was developed intended         motivation and satisfaction. This component
to be a conceptual framework, a model, for       is consistent with the objective of the
technology based teaching and learning. The      College of Arts and Sciences in instilling in
theory posits that students must be              the students the desire for precise thinking as
meaningfully engaged in learning activities      well as correct and appropriate means of
through interaction with others and              expression.
worthwhile tasks for learning to occur.
                                                 The researcher believes that engagement
The role of technology in this theory is to      theory represents a new paradigm for
facilitate all aspects of engagement, the use    teaching and learning in the digital age
of web log in this case, increase and improve    where blogging may play a positive role in
students’ participation in the required course   student participation, expression and
activity. Technology provides an electronic      interaction.
learning mileux that fosters the kind of
creativity & communication needed to             Methodology
nourish engagement.10
                                                 The researcher employed a descriptive
Engagement theory is based upon three (3)        method combining the qualitative and
concepts: Relate-Create-Donate.                  quantitative types of research. Descriptive
                                                 research       endeavors      to      describe
Relate. Through time, students have been         systematically, functionally, accurately and
taught and trained to learn and work in their    objectively a situation, problem or
own. However, through blogs, students have       phenomena (Garcia, 2003). Qualitative is
the chance to relate and collaborate with        used to discuss the pedagogical preparation
their classmates’ expressed/posted opinions.     done by the research to integrate blogs to the
The learning environment could increase          traditional classroom experience. While,
students motivation to learn by participation    quantitative is used to describe the students’
and collaboration with fellow students of the    view of blogging.
course.
                                                 After the integration of the blogs in the
Create. This second component makes              traditional classroom method, the students
learning creative, purposeful activity.          were given the survey questionnaire. The
Students will focus their efforts on creation    questionnaire is consisted of four (4)
of ideas in answering a specific                 questions that tackled the following students’
assignment/activities posted on the blog         view: 1) reasons for participating in the blog,
website. This would be more interesting to       2) blog as a medium for facilitating learning,
students than answering their traditional        3)      blog as a medium for student
textbook activity.                               interactivity, 4) blog as a medium for
                                                 reflection, and 5) transferability of blogging
Donate. This third component stresses the        as a learning tool.
value of making a useful contribution while
learning. Students who know they have an         Pedagogical Preparation
audience other than their teacher write more
At the initial stage, The researcher created an   Different activities were posted in the
online learning environment that integrates       blogsite, namely: 1). Topics, BLOG
blogging as part of the teaching-learning         assignments (1-8) using different strategies
process in the course English 111                 like plain texts entries, pictures, and linked
encouraged students to write about what they      videos for students’ learning experience. The
have learned in class and relate it to            topics covered for this study were the
everyday life. Two (2) blog sites were            following: 1). Simple Present Tense, 2).
utilized: the multiply.com and the                Simple Past Tense, 3). Future tense, 4).
facebook.com.                                     Present Perfect Tense, 5). Past Participle of
                                                  Regular and Irregular Verbs, and Past Perfect
The facebook.com blog site is currently the       Tense.
most popular among students. The account
created for the online course was named           1. Students’ View of Blogs as Part of the
ENGLISH COURSE. However, facebook                    Learning Experience.
could only handle up to 160 characters
during the time of the blog integration in        For reasons of participating in the blog
English 111. With this limitation, it was         activities, majority (54%) of the students
difficult to use it as a blog space. The          realized the importance of participating in
researcher used facebook as announcement          blogging activities as part of the learning
dissemination board utilizing its “status         process and that they have to perform
update” feature which surely reached its          excellently in all activities.
target studentry due to its popularity.
                                                  Perceiving blog as a medium for facilitating
A second blog site was created to combine         learning, majority of the students agree to
with facebook, the multiply.com. It was           strongly agree that blogging assisted them in
named ENGLISH 111 BHA. The best                   learning lessons in English 111.
feature of multiply is that it can hold large
amount of files be it photos, videos, blogs,      Of the thirty-eight (38) students, 55 percent
links, etc. Each entry are arrange                revealed that blogging in the course English
chronologically. For this study this blog site    111 increased the meaningful intellectual
holds the main online classroom of English        exchange more broadly. Blogs offer an
111. This is where the activities,                innovative way for students to engage in
announcements, and information were               reflective writing on classroom topics in a
posted. This is also where the students post      familiar medium.
their blogs in compliance to the teacher’s
posted requirement.                               Given the choice of participating again in a
                                                  blog activity without grades equivalent,
The integration of blogs to the traditional       twenty-six (26) or 68% agreed, while 20
classroom teaching-learning was initiated by      percent strongly agreed. This is consistent
requiring students to have themselves             with Lorrie Jackson’s online article that
become members of the English Course              students loved to blog. Seeing their words
facebook Account. This initial step is very       published on the Web is a great student
well known to the students as facebook is         motivator. Students who know they have an
very popular and that most of the students        audience other than their teacher write more
have their own facebook blogsite.                 credibly, accurately, and carefully.

Entries are posted in the English Course          When asked if they would like to see
facebook and multiply blogsite to keep            blogging used more widely in English
students informed on what to expect from the      courses as a learning/assessment tool, 12
course for the preliminary grading period.        percent opined that it should be used in all
subject, while, a equal percentage of 39%
                                                  5
said that it should used in most and in some             "Facebook Statistics".
of English subjects/courses. This shows that           http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?
100% of the students are agreeable that                statistics. Retrieved July 21, 2010.
                                                  6
blogging should be used in English courses               wikipedia.org
                                                  7
as a learning/assessment tool.                           Red Herring, "VCs Count on
                                                       Multiply.com.
Conclusions                                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiply.com
                                                       . Retrieved 8-18-2010.
                                                  8
Utilization of blogsites as a supplement to              Multiply is Multiplying: Page Views
the traditional method of teaching is a                Double to 600MM Year-over-Year.
welcome innovation for most students. The              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiply.com
use of popular blogsite like the facebook is           . Retrieved 8-18-2010.
                                                  9
familiar and very convenient for them such               Kearsley, G, and Shneiderman, B. 1999,
that it makes learning and complying to                Engagement Theory: A Framework for
requirements an enjoyable task. Students’              Technologybased Teaching and Learning,
learning need not be confined to the four              1-6.
walls of the classroom but can be achieved             http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/enga
anywhere, anytime. Blogs as a learning                 ge.htm. Retrieved 15 August 2010.
                                                  10
space for English 111 is an effective teaching           Ibid.
methodology appreciated by the students.

The integration of blogs in the traditional
teaching      learning     process     requires
preparation and planning on the part of the
teacher so that applicable and timely
activities could be given to the students.


References
1
     wikipedia.org
2
     Carlson, Nicholas (2010-03-05). "At
    Last – The Full Story Of How Facebook
    Was Founded". Business Insider.
    http://www.businessinsider.com/how-
    facebook-was-founded-2010-3#we-can-
    talk-about-that-after-i-get-all-the-basic-
    functionality-up-tomorrow-night-1.
3
     Eldon, Eric. (2008-12-18). "2008 Growth
    Puts Facebook In Better Position to Make
    Money". VentureBeat.
    http://venturebeat.com/2008/12/18/2008-
    growth-puts-facebook-in-better-position-
    to-make-money/. Retrieved 08-18-2010.
4
     Zuckerberg, Mark (2010-07-21). "500
    Million Stories". Facebook.
    http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=4
    09753352130. Retrieved 2010-07-21.

				
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