E. Nisiforou1, N. Eteokleous2

1Cyprus University of Technology (CYPRUS)
2Frederick University Cyprus (CYPRUS)
Educational blog becomes a noteworthy component of many web-based learning environments as it provides a practical online platform for discussions that hastens the acquisition of both, knowledge and learning. Therefore, integrating such a web-related communication as blogs for enhancing the teaching and learning process is a great challenge for educators. Due to the lack of theoretical framework on the evaluation criteria of educational blogs, this study serves as a frontrunner in investigating and analyzing the effectiveness of blog as an instructional tool and distinguishing it from the other forms of blogging, attempting to provide some possible indicators for this challenge. The investigation was carried out using a sample of fourth year university students (n=63) retrieved from the Department of Primary Education at a private University in Cyprus. Data were collected from a total of 52 in-service teachers who were enrolled in the course entitled Educational Technology, participated in the asynchronous online discussion and formed the basis for the study. Within the requirements of the aforementioned course, a blog focusing on the use of online social networks for educational purposes was set up. The questions that shaped the content of the blog derived from relevant literature. Specifically, the study aimed to identify whether Bloom’s taxonomic levels that are used in assessing students’ learning process from Lower Order Thinking Skills (LOTS) to Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) can also be applied to evaluate and define real (actual) blogging from a pedagogical perspective. The research instrument and educational tool remained active for 5 weeks and included six questions that were posted in the blog, allowing students to address the questions by posting their entries online as part of the course graded requirements. For the purposes of this study, the discussions developed in the first and second question were used. Students were also provided with the instructional practice evaluation guidelines and the participation criteria of the online discussion. The data were analyzed in regards to the blog’s content with the use of the MonoConc Pro 2.0 Software and the Bloom’s revised digital taxonomy. The results of the study reveal blog’s potential to be integrated as a learning tool since real pedagogical blogging has been accomplished on a satisfactory level. The findings have also showed that students’ blogging behaviors were varied and depended upon the way in which they addressed each of the elements of the Bloom’s taxonomy. Despite the fact that the results have revealed students’ positive attitude toward blogging, pre- and in-service teachers must develop fundamental knowledge and skills in order to appropriately design and develop educational blogs, fully exploiting their added value, and usefulness. Hence, effective learning will only be occurred if educators can rely on criteria in setting up an educational blog and therefore be able evaluate its content. This can be accomplished through the university programs of study as well as through continuing professional development.