An exploration into the educational benefits and challenges of a student-led blog for part-time higher education students

Casserley-Williams, F., 2021. An exploration into the educational benefits and challenges of a student-led blog for part-time higher education students. EdD, Nottingham Trent University.

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This study investigates the perspectives of part-time students and academics on the uses of blogs within Higher Education. It examines blogging within a socio-cultural framework through the theoretical lens of connectivism (Siemens, 2009, 2018; Downes, 2012). Qualitative methodologies are utilised in the interpretivist paradigm to understand the challenges and benefits of using a blog. This research reports Academic and student views regarding the usefulness of blogging for educational purposes, describes how and why blogs are used and reveals why uptake for some students is limited.

A small-scale research project, using thematic analysis to investigate samples of student blogs and examine interview data, involved the analysis of the contents of 12 students’ blogs, followed by interviews with students (n=8) and academics (n=4). This research took place at two universities in the East Midlands, and focussed on two professional education courses during the first term of the first year of study. The findings identified benefits for students, both in their academic and reflective writing and in synthesising theory with their professional practice. However, the need for appropriate training to combine pedagogical design with collaborative technologies, accessible to both staff and students, emerges as an essential priority. Moreover, it was important to understand the broader context of multiple online platforms and face-to-face communication that students are already accessing. Finally, traditional delivery models within practices and concepts of academic and student roles, i.e., expert and novice, limit the role of the ‘More Knowledgeable Other’ (MKO) to the academic alone, which influences how the blog was viewed, used and valued within student groups.

The findings further developed Garcia et al. (2013) model of connectivism and supports that learning occurs within a fluid and dynamic context online. In this evolved model, the various students can be centrally vii active or more passive at different times but still engaged. All the actors have agency in this sense, even when they choose to behave as ‘lurkers’. The findings suggest that this new model recognises the vital importance of the expert within the system and argues that, for blogs to achieve maximum benefit, the academic needs to play a central role (at least initially).

Recommendations are contextualised as part of a set of potential responses to the current COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic climate, as blogging could play an important role in a range of online teaching scenarios in higher education (HE).

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Casserley-Williams, F.
Date: February 2021
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 15 Aug 2022 08:48
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2022 08:48

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