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Blogs for Reflective Learning: An Overview


According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a blog is defined as: Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer;

Since their introduction, the popularity of blogs has spread into almost every aspect of society, from celebrity ventures to do-it-yourself crafts. An area where they can be used quite successfully is the field of education. A quick Internet search would yield countless sites from educators on every level, with excellent resources and student projects. Blogs can be utilized for reflective learning since the forum itself requires users to comment on their work or the work of others.

What is "Reflective Learning"?

Click here to access the "Reflective Learning Page"

What are Reflective Blogs?

A reflective journal has traditionally been a log written by a student after a lesson has been taught. This journal allows the student to replay the lesson and record valuable information. The student can apply the information to previous knowledge making the lesson more meaningful. The journal also allows the student to revisit the lesson at any time just by reviewing the log. With a Blog being the forum for reflective writing others (classmates, teachers and even the world) can have access to this information as well and the learning can be shared.

Secrets of Successful Learning describe blogs and reflective blogs.

How to Use Reflective Blogs in the Classroom

Russell Beale, author of Blogs, reflective practice and student-centered learning, describes a reflective practice (such as blogs) as a cycle that includes observation, reflection, planning and experience.
external image kolb.gif
(from http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/~rxb/Teaching/HCI/blog/2004_04_01_archive.html originally posted April 22, 2004 by Russell Beale)

Jill Walker Rettberg also discusses blogs as a tool for reflection and learning in this video:
Might I add that she has a delightful British accent.

A Wiki of Reflective Blog Research that contains a video and valuable information.

Advantages of using a reflective blog:

  1. Allows students to reflect and express their thoughts and/or feeling about the assignment in an open forum.
  2. Students who are normally shy and do not raise their hand in class can express themselves without the fear of others watching them in class.
  3. Students who have slow processing time or different learning styles can work in concert with their strengths and avoid the time pressures of class discussions.
  4. Allows the teacher to understand the student better.
  5. The teacher can have immediate feedback as opposed to feedback from summative assessments.
  6. Reflective blogs allow teachers to identify problem areas that a student or students is having with class work.
  7. Students can post video or audio to the blog as an alternative.
  8. Students learn that their writing matters to others beside their teacher and that they have valuable contributions to make themselves.

Disadvantages of using a reflective blog:

  1. Directions may be unclear, leaving the student uncertain and possibly frustrated.
  2. The students may have trouble with technology or not understand how to use a blog.
  3. Students may not have the time or interest to maintain a blog.
  4. Students may get off topic and include not-related information in their blog.
  5. Grading blogs may be difficult unless a clear set of rubrics or standards are in place.
  6. With a full class grading may be time consuming for the teacher.

image by Cortega9 from Wikipedia Commons
image by Cortega9 from Wikipedia Commons

Some examples of reflective learning blogs:

Edutopia featured teacher George Mayo in their article "High Tech Reflection Strategies Make Learning Stick". Mayo feels that blogging is a perfect way to do reflection and gives several examples of the impact that blogging has had on his students. One student asked to continue after the school year ended because it had helped him see how much he had grown over time. Another indicated that writing in the blog, which she initially resisted, helped her realize how much she is learning.
  1. Mr. Mayo's Class
  2. A Difference: Reflective Blogging
  3. Outside the Cave