I remember the first time I was asked to write a blog for a piece of assessment for a writing course. The idea was to write a 300 word blog on a grammar topic of my choice. It was meant to teach me how to use words succinctly and structure grammatically correct sentences.
At first I couldn’t see how writing a blog could be considered a piece of assessment, or consider how sharing our blogs would contribute to a robust training activity. After the initial challenge of finding a grammar topic to blog about in 300 words was over, I settled into the challenge and discovered a totally new way of sharing knowledge and more importantly the value of reflective learning.
But first, what is a blog.
A blog or Weblog is a personal web page where a person can write their own thoughts and opinions on a regular basis. This blog is updated on a regular basis and is displayed in reverse chronological order.
From a training perspective the benefits of using blogs are many. If you are developing training activities, you should consider including blogging into the assessment. Blogging promotes reflective learning. It gives the learner permission to review learning material and how it is or may be applied to their work practice.
Blogging’s asynchronous nature fits in well with just-in-time learning. Learners can blog as and when they need to. Using blogging as a learning activity gives trainers insight into the learners ’critical and analytical thinking. A trainer can identify trends or gaps by reviewing learners’ blogs. Learners’ sharing their blogs allows peer learning opportunities.
For learners’ blogging can be:
- quiet and thoughtful reflective practice allowing them to reflect and review key learning points
- collaborative by sharing learning experiences
- an instructive feedback tool; it is a great way to get a sense of what other learners are learning or how they are processing key learning points
- an enriching engaging experience as posting comments to other blogs enables learners to participate in the learning process and open dialogue with each other
Blogging as a training activity is not only a great way to engage learners but it embodies the principles of social learning theory. Briefly, Albert Bandura’s social learning theory posits that people learn through observing. Blogging encourages and promotes learning as a collaborative activity. It makes learning less lonely and encourages sharing as well as open conversation. This is a plus when you’re implementing on the job work place training.
Engaging learners to blog may not be met with universal appeal. Some learners may find the process of writing a blog that will be shared a little intimidating and others may simply relish in the fact that they can share their learning and experiences. The key is giving learners the opportunities to blog and creating a balance
Integrate blogging as a training activity within your online course where possible; however, the activity must make sense to the learner — remember adult learners need to understand why they are doing something. Think about what you want the learner to achieve by including blogging into the training course. Consider whether the activity as an assessment piece will reinforce the learning objectives.
You can incorporate a blog within your Moodle course. Plan when you would like to open the blog and share basic netiquette on how you want learners to engage with each other online.
You can extend the use of blogging beyond assessment. Its practice can be useful in project work; for example, team members may find blogging is a great way for recording thoughts, meeting notes, or even brainstorming ideas.
Blogging as a learning activity is a great resource for trainers and learners. Its self-reflective nature allows me to consolidate my thoughts and lessons learnt. I hope you find it as useful as I did.