Matrix of some uses of blogs in education

This week and next I’m helping to facilitate an online discussion on the use of blogs in education for about 400 members from the B.C.-wide Educational Technology Users Group.

We are facilitating the discussion through a multi-author Typepad blog (there are 4 other facilitators involved). We’ve structured the sessions to begin with an introduction to what blogs are and how to read and write them. We’re now moving into Day 4 and from hereon we get into far more interesting stuff – what are the actual applications of blogs in education. It is a very diverse group of participants ranging widely across job descriptions, disciplines and skill sets.

To help facilitate this discussion and my own thinking on it, I’ve worked up this matrix of some of the possible uses of blogs in education.

A big caveat here – this matrix very much approaches the topic in the context of ‘formal’ education, and only really considers students, instructors and ‘the rest of the net’ as actors. Obviously one could add much to this – librarians, institutional RSS feeds … That’s why I titled it ‘Some’ uses of blogs in education. Even just considering this limited set of actors, I have definitely left much off. And I didn’t try to enumerate all of instructional events and applications you could facilitate through blogs (e.g. webquests as one example).

My goal here was to illustrate that blogs are about both writing and reading, and that one’s professional practice and ones instructional practice can be facilitated with the same technology. It’s aimed at an intro audience. I’d really love to hear any feedback on this. Do you think this would help people new to blogging understand some of its potential, or by creating this matrix am I just blinding them to other possibles uses not captured here? Thoughts, comments, etc appreciated. This is an early draft and if there’s interest I’ll share the source doc later on. – SWL

28 thoughts on “Matrix of some uses of blogs in education

  1. Joe Hart

    Hi Scott,
    I like the matrix and plan to use it when talking with instuctors about academic blogging. I used my EduResources Weblog as a tool during my sabbatical to explore ideas and web sites and as a way to contact fellow professionals. At the end of the sabbatical I was able to print sections of the weblog as a way to document and report on my sabbatical activities. I guess this application would fit within your categories for Instructor “Discipline-specific blog” and “Annotated links blog.”
    Joe

  2. Scott Leslie

    Joe, you could probably fit it under there, but you could probably make add it as a new ‘usage’ too. This definitely wasn’t meaning to be comprehensive. The only reason the ‘usages’ are defined with the scope that they are is that I literally am not capapble enough of designing this layout with many more listed and still having it legible. I guess the other reason is not wanting to overwhelm the audience – in this case 400 or so educators in B.C. with a wide variation in degrees of prior exposure to the technology. What I’m hoping is that the actual axis make sense to people, and one can the extend this either through different actors, different relationships and definitely through additional examples of ‘usages.’

    Cheers, Scott.

  3. Ed

    I wonder if it would be useful to separate ‘weblogs’ from ‘RSS/aggregators’. I believe that there is enough say about reading and writing weblogs without involving RSS.

    For the record, I’m not a big RSS fan (at least in using RSS to read weblogs and news). I think the benefits are overstated, the technology, immature (i.e. most if not all aggregators aren’t ready for prime time).

    You could probably have a useful discussion of uses for RSS in education, but I think it is a separate discussion.

    People can read and write weblogs without RSS. If some folks want to rush ahead and dive into RSS, then that’s fine. But there are probably a lot that are more comfortable (and interested) reading weblogs in a browser and surfing using bookmarks, link lists, blogrolls, whatever. You can probably get 80% of your benefits going that route.

    My two cents,

    Ed

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