Birmingham City University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 10-21
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Academic reflection is acknowledged as an essential part of the learning process in many programmes of higher education study - and is an important transferable skill. However, it can be difficult to encourage students to engage in the process. Educators face the challenge of how to facilitate the development of this skill, within the context of globalisation, student diversity and employability. Reflective practice is frequently addressed as a supplementary question in an element of assessment, providing rushed responses and little opportunity for the student to reflect on the whole of the learning experience.

Emerging Internet technologies have resulted in a blogging phenomenon that shows little sign of abating, with thousands of new blogs being created and maintained each day. Even the increase of structured social networks such as Facebook™ and LinkedIn™ has not tempered the use of blogs. Commercial tools offer the ability for anyone to publish their thoughts on the Internet with only limited technical knowledge.

The opportunity to use blogs in education to enhance learning by encouraging student engagement in reflection is both enabled and encouraged by the social acceptance of blogging outside the learning environment. Blogging provides a means of addressing some of the psycho-social, cultural, and practical barriers to reflection. However, educators need guidance on how to effectively integrate the use of blogging to support and facilitate reflection in the learning and assessment processes.

Two different approaches to encourage reflection using blogs are discussed, one highly structured, the other provides a more laissez-faire approach but with a stronger interaction encouraged between students. This paper examines two separate case studies of using blogs within undergraduate students in a UK University. Students create and write their own learning blogs to encourage academic reflection throughout the presentation of a module.

It has also been recognised that there can be a disproportionate marking burden on tutors who may need to read a large number of long blog postings. A combined quantitative/qualitative method has been developed which provides a method of providing a mark which is directly proportionate to the efforts of the student, which can be adapted by educators faced with similar problems.

Finally, an analysis of a large number of learning blogs written by undergraduate students has led to a useful method of categorising blog postings which is easily understood by students and allows them to self-analyse their own learning blog. Example blog postings in each of these categories are provided, and recommendations are made for other educators to share this categorisation with their students.
blog, reflection, reflective blogs, assessment.