Tag Archives: blogs

ideas May 2010

Note: Turnitin detects similarity. While the author described Turnitin as a plagiarism detection service, Turnitin only detects similarity to other sources. Humans determine if a paper is plagiarised.

By N. Sivasothi, Lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences

For the third year running, non-biology students who take the cross-faculty module LSM1303 Animal Behaviour are blogging. As part of their continual assessment, every student in the class of about 200 creates a single blog post each. Their blog site, Blogging about Animal Behaviour is hosted on Blog.nus.

Blogging benefits

Writing an original post encourages students to read and communicate beyond the limits of their project work and lectures. It also exposes them to their fellow-students' efforts which cover a wide range of examples of animal behaviour.

...continue reading

in ZDNet Asia, 5 February 2010
by Liau Yun Qing

Twitter has also found its way into education through other uses. At the National University of Singapore, Ravi Chandran, director of the Centre for Instructional Technologies, said his department uses a Twitter account to provide system updates to the university community.

He added that many departments in the university use Twitter as an informal broadcast medium for announcements, while some use the microblogging service to engage students....

Apart from wikis, blogs are used in teaching. NUS' Chandran noted that blogs were one of the earliest social media tools used in NUS and were implemented as early as 2003. The school launched the NUS Module Blogs in mid-2006 and Blog.nus in 2008 to help the faculty and students set up their own blogs for learning.

Chandran added that the university has its own YouTube channel where public lectures and other videos are shared with a worldwide audience. In addition, videos on the services provided by NUS Libraries and NUS Career Centre are also hosted on the video-sharing Web site.

Read the article

Safety Glasses Required

It started with two seemingly simple questions.

Can I set up a blog for my department's staff and students, and can moderators be assigned?

The straightforward answers to those deceptively basic queries are:

  1. Yes, but not without difficulty. There is no single sign-on in Blog.nus, so user accounts would have to be created and managed manually.
  2. Yes, users can be assigned different roles.

The questions led me to probe further, as I wanted to know what the blog is supposed to be about, why it needed to be accessible only by staff and students of that department and what exactly they were trying to achieve.

It turned out that the idea was a safety issues blog.

"Fantastic!" I thought. I couldn't understand exactly why it needed to be private. Then, I found out that the blog's raison d'être was that it would be used to elicit suggestions about laboratory safety.

The department has been trying various ways and means to procure feedback from students. They have a good way already, it seems: face-to-face feedback from staff. However, getting constructive feedback from the students was another matter altogether.

Besides promoting the blog as an avenue to collect feedback, there was no plan in place to encourage students to give feedback.

I suggested a safety blog where staff and selected students (those who express interest in this) post about safety issues, pointing out best practices and highlighting hazardous behaviour. Apparently, this was tried using a different format - not sure if it was a website or email updates - but the contributors ran out of steam.

I pointed out that no one is going to give feedback just because there is a blog where everyone can post. I also highlighted that it would be unlikely that anyone would do so if there was just no motivating or  factor. Further, people tend to take ownership of blogs, even group blogs. Very large group blogs don't ordinarily work.

Even yesterday.sg, a popular heritage blog, which is open to anyone to join and post, rarely gets original individual contributions. Usually, dedicated contributors point to heritage-related posts elsewhere.

The conversation ended with no concrete outcome. The problem of soliciting feedback is not something that can be solved by any IT tool in isolation.

Photo above by Scott Lowe modified from here.
Reproduced under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Bloom's Taxonomy

I was reading a post on Michelle Martin's Bamboo Project blog which highlighted her readers' responses to learning through blogging.

There were many positive responses which reinforced my own thoughts about learning and blogging. I like what Catherine Lombardozzi said:

The act of writing has a way of crystallizing your thinking on a topic.  As I have worked on this blog - and other journals more private than this one - over the last year or so, I have come to appreciate how much clearer my thinking becomes as I try to put my musings into sentences and paragraphs.... I have found that writing forces me to coral nebulous thoughts into something coherent, to name and own what I really think on a subject, to bring together ideas from several sources, and to consider how a potential audience might react.

Having made a commitment to posting here on the Learning Journal blog at least once a week, I also notice that when something piques my interest, I store it away as a potential topic for an entry.  Knowing I may want to write about an idea causes me to mull things over that may - in the past - have come and gone in my head without ever finding a place to settle.  Even if I don’t actually write about something in the end, I find myself thinking about these interesting ideas more thoroughly.

The other thing that caught my eye was the mention of Bloom's Taxonomy.

Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I know I've come across this before. It turns out that my friend, who is a secondary school teacher, has mentioned this. According to her, teachers have to indicate which of the six categories each learning activity aims to achieve.

Looking at the diagram (you can click the one above for a bigger version, the original can be found here), I thought that it should be more of a pyramid, similar to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. In Maslow's hierarchy, lower order needs must be fulfilled before progressing on to the next level of needs. Similarly in Bloom's Taxonomy, you need to have knowledge before comprehending, comprehend before applying and so forth.

Later, I realised that there is a spiral in the middle of the diagram which represents this flow. Seen three-dimensionally, it should be an continuous upward spiral, implying that the final stage - evaluation - necessarily creates new knowledge. Then the whole process repeats itself. This is very much the story of learning, in a macro sense, throughout human history.

And that's what I learnt from looking at the diagram.

Oh yes, if you are interested in Personal Learning Environments (PLEs), Michelle's Bamboo Project blog is the one to follow.

Bloom's Taxonomy - Learning in Action graphic
by K. Aainsqatsi
published under CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported license
from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Blooms_rose.svg