University College Cork (IRELAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 4712-4716
ISBN: 978-84-613-9386-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
This paper describes the experience of using both a Wiki and a Blog to support seminar provision for a Final Year Bachelor of Arts Degree Programme in the School of English at University College Cork, Ireland. Using the Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment this innovative seminar encouraged students to conduct discussions on the group blog in response to literature they reviewed as part of their course work. Their assessment measured their contribution to the blogging environment as part of their 'Attendance and Contribution' mark for the course. A group wiki was also implemented on the Blackboard VLE to facilitate and encourage collaborative work on their group project, which was an online publication of their responses to the digital environment and cyberculture.

The course fostered creativity, imagination, communication and writing skills in a group of students who were unfamiliar with a blogging environment within the VLE and who did not 'blog' per se. The shared, community space of the blog enabled communication outside class time, where students' responses to the texts were discussed in a relaxed, less formal way. A list of 'Rules for respectful participation' were circulated and adhered to. The blog allowed students to expresss their ability, and lack of ability, to engage with elements of the critical material together. As facilitator it made it easier for me to get a sense of their understanding, and their engagement with the texts when I could see and chart their responses online. It allowed the actual one hour per week, face - to - face, class time to be more fruitful, as many issues had been already encountered on the blog and a clear synthesis was made possible. Oftentimes students would not need to ask me a question directly as they had already asked their classmates online.

Students learning peer-to-peer was a critical element in the success of the course. The students' response to a question posed online was usually - 'yes - I thought that too' - or' I agree!'. Students reported that they were reassured by the blog, and after some initial hesitation, communicated freely with each other. Routinely a class member would answer another's question before I looked at the blog, my role became one of guidance and advice, as opposed to lecturing in the traditional sense. This ensured that real work was accomplished during class time, as opposed to checking that work was completed, or that the central message of the literature being reviewed was understood.

The class explored issues of digitality, such as communitiy building, and epublishing. As part of a class project they designed, built and published a range of articles about digital media, scholarship and the humanities. Class members comprised historians, philosophers and musicians. Each picked a subject that reflected their personal interests. As they were from a range of subject areas, and many did not live locally, a wiki was set up to manage and develop the group project. It meant that while separated the group were at all times kept abreast of the ongoing work of others. As students of English, it was the first time a blog had been part of their course, and their assessment. It enabled them to see the direct impact of Web 2.0 on humanities practitioners, and successfully encouraged them to view their learning and writing in a new, dynamic way.
e-learning, wiki, blog, humanities, University College Cork, undergraduate, School of English, communication, understanding, critical ability, peer-to-peer.