Is it there LOT to be HOT? Some thoughts on pedagogical aspects of blogging
Dr Mel Duffy, Lecturer in Sociology & Sexuality Studies, School of Nursing & Human Sciences
Traditionally, university students were initiated into the frame of critical thinking. It was a movement from the descriptive with the understanding that, as students, they faltered and felt out of their depth as they questioned their ability to critique with the overriding sentiment of ‘who are they to do so?’. The authors of the subject matter of their choice were seen to hold the keys to knowledge and from them they would learn. It is rather daunting for a student to be asked ‘well what did you think?’ or indeed ‘do you agree?’ to the point of ‘how would you have written this differently with the knowledge that you hold’? This is the interactive space of a classroom whereby the student would be encouraged through words, facial expressions and body language. The lecturer becomes a reader of bodies to enable them to help students. When we move to the internet and blogging, two out of three tools of engagements are removed. The challenge will become how to interact and encourage without the physicality of seeing and reading or indeed the setting of the classroom.
There is an assumption that students are computer and indeed internet literate which for those of us not of their generation can be quite daunting. However therein lies the conundrum. Using a tool such as blogging for pedagogy is inherently different that using it as soap box for everyday living. Zawilinski (2009 p.652) suggest that using what has become ordinary communication tools of the internet such as twitter and blogging does not necessarily create ‘effective and efficient’ usage. Indeed the question does arise as to how do they move from the soap box scenario which we might call Lower Order Thinking (LOT) to what has become called Higher Order Thinking (HOT). Deng and Yuen (2011) indicate that blogs facilitate those with little technical skills to become publishers. The online blog offers space whereby ones thoughts, options, emotional reactions, political agendas and activism can be winged out to a wider audience rather than family and friends being set upon over dinner or indeed a couple of beverages. One could say that the internet alleviates their burden. However, the problem arises as to how it becomes more than just the visceral reaction to the moment. It is this that the facilitator/administrator of the blog in the academy has to encourage movement from reaction to thinking, to reflection to critique. Whatever the language used to describe the outcome whether it is HOT or critical analysis, it is the movement of thinking into a space of combining reading, reflection and evaluation into a coherent written format that is at play. My concerns are centred on this movement, if other students are critiques of their peers work what skills have they developed to become the critique? Taking up occupancy of the academy was to impart training and development of the skill set required. The internet and use of the blog would appear to once remove the academic from the process which raises the spectre of our knowing that the skill set acquired by the student falls into the HOT category. Deng and Yuen (2011) suggests that blogs have a potential wider audience of all internet uses, however if the skill set is to be developed, does it not require a closed blog group? Indeed this raises the question as to whether there is any such thing as a closed group on the internet? It would appear that those who engage with this process become advocates for its usage suggesting that it is a ‘transformational technology for teaching and learning’ (Williams and Jacobs 2004 p.245), that by supporting lecturers it can ‘readily engage learners in a problem-solving setting’ (Wang et al 2007 p.276) and it has become an ‘enabling learning tool’ (Farmer, Yue and Brooks 2008 p.123). For me I am confronted by Frost’s (1916) image of the road not taken and maybe for me it is a leap into the unknown and emerges from the undergrowth of pedagogy irrespective of the space it finds itself in.
Deng, Liping & Yuen, Allan H.K. 2011. Towards a framework for educational affordances of blogs. Computers & Education pp441-451
Farmer, Brett; Yue, Audrey & Brooks, Claire. 2008. Using blogging for higher order learning in large cohort university teaching: A case study. Australian Journal of Educational Technology. Pp.123-136
Halic, Olivia; Lee, Debra; Paulus, Trena & Spence, Marsha. 2010 To blog or not to blog: Student perceptions of blog effectiveness for learning in a college-level course. Internet and Higher Education pp.206-213
Hsu, Chin-Lung & Lin, Judy Chuan-Chuan. 2007. Acceptance of blog usage: The roles of technology acceptance, social influence and knowledge sharing motivation. Information & Management pp.65-74
Kim, Hyung Nam. 2008. The phenomenon of blogs and theoretical model of blog use in educational contexts. Computers & Education pp1342-1352
Wang, Kun Te; Huang, Yueh-Min; Jeng, Yu-Lin & Wang, Tzone-I. 2008. A blog-based dynamic learning map. Computers & Education pp.262-278
Zawilinski, Lisa. 2009. HOT Blogging: A Framework for Blogging to Promote Higher Order Thinking. The Reading Teacher pp.650-661