Weblogs are a great reflective tool. A student can write something about their course,
perhaps categorise it in terms of subject or the piece of work concerned, and that
reflection can be accessed and searched by both date and context.
However, weblog functionality comes into its own when mixed with social networking,
as with LiveJournal: the student can then mark certain reflections as being for public
consumption, or viewable by certain groups of other users. They can then make
comments and perhaps add their thoughts in their own journals, with a link between the
two established via a trackback. Students then have use of not just their own reflections,
but those of their peers, and potentially teaching staff too: a much wider realm of thought,
which might produce conclusions a student may not have arrived at on their own.
A student could then, within a weblog post or portfolio page, provide a link to any object
in their digital repository. Perhaps a trackback link could be made from that object to all
the posts and pages mentioning it. This would allow a student or tutor to instantly see,
when looking at a piece of work, the personal reflections and inter-student discussions
relating to it.
Furthermore, it can also affect learning in the “real world”; through a social networking
enabled system, a student could find and communicate with a number of like-minded
individuals, who might then organise study or social groups. If an establishment’s
system was linked to other systems in other parts of the country (or the world), groups of
students doing similar courses could all compare notes and learn from each other.
Maybe it’s just that my radar is tuning into it more these days, but the idea of collaborative learning through Weblogs and social networking software seems to be just exploding. And when you really take a little time to think about the possibilities…