The folks over at the CCCC Blogging SIG are taking the blog by the horns in terms of beginning to gather some empirical research about the effects of blogs in the classroom. I still think it’s weird that no one has published any results of studies with this tool yet. I may have to carve out a few hours to go digging around some more. They’ve also got some other things on the agenda. One of my favorite snippets is this one:
…we need to move the profession towards a space where we’re more aware of blogging as professional activity. To what degree can we “get credit” for blogging? And, deriving from that, how can we start thinking about blogging as professionals? (One question that was asked in response: if blogging becomes a professional activity, does it lose some portion of its value as teaching/writing tool?)
Wow…we’re finally getting serious about this stuff, huh? Good questions that we’re all grappling with on some level, and I’ll be interested to see how things progress.
Tom Hoffman says
First, it’s spelled empirical.
Beyond that, I’m not sure what the control group would be in research on blogs. Using other technologies like forums, mailing lists or Dreamweaver composed web pages? Using the same pedagogical strategies but using paper journals? If the control is a “traditional,” paper-based classroom, you’re probably testing pedagogical changes and technological changes at the same time, so you don’t really know if the changes are due to pedagogy or technology.
Collin Brooke says
You raise some good points. I think the impetus for this part of our discussion was the fact that (in our field, at least) there have been a number of small-scale, limited focus studies, each done in isolation from the others, with little attempt at articulating any hypotheses across institutions, curricula, differing student populations, etc. Part of this hesitation is a disciplinary one–we haven’t always been good at the distinction between false and falsifiable, and at seeing the value of the latter–but part of it too is just the newness of the technologies.
To your final point, I’m not sure whether to say (a) that classroom blogging requires changes in both to the degree that separating them doesn’t make sense to me, or (b) that my field’s lengthy experiments with journals makes this separation more imaginable than you might think. Two totally different responses, I know, but I’d have to think about it a little more.
Anne Bartlett-Bragg says
Hey Will – I’m hoping to release / publish my research results from my PhD later this year (2006)- but it will have taken 3 years to complete – so I guess we have to say if we want academically robust research, it doesn’t happen over night!
Oh – and my research participants are adult learners – and I’ve used qualitative phenomenographic methodolgy to develop categories of description that identify the critical differences in the learners approach to developing weblogs.
Anne BB 🙂
Will, there ARE some studies about blogs in the classroom. Not much, yet, but there are some. I’m sure more will be coming out in the next few months. I have an article in press at TechTrends about our use of blogs with preservice teachers. It was a pretty small study, but hopefully it will add to the discussion.
West, R. E., Wright, G. W., Gabbitas, B., & Graham, C. R. (in press). Reflections from the Introduction of Blogs and RSS Feeds Into a Preservice Instructional Technology Course. TechTrends.
Will Richardson says
Fixed it…can’t wait ’til I find an error on your site, Tom.
I think there are probably ways to compare paper classrooms to blog classrooms in terms of student incentive to write and level of engagement due to the transparency of the tools. It would be good to study the same kids in both environments, but I think you could get a sense of what effects that might have. Certainly, keying into the effects in terms of writing ability would be more difficult, I think.
David Warlick says
Will, correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s not the technology you’re really interested in, is it? It’s the learning experience that results from students reading, reflecting, sharing, responding, rethinking, and sharing again. It has little to do with the machine and the fact that children are laying their hands on the box and “blogging”. Blogging is pedagogy. ?
…or is it spelled “pedigagy”?
Will Richardson says
Actually, it has everything to do with blogging, the verb. It’s the act, not the tool, you’re right. And the act is, as you note, much more complex than just writing.