During the process of developing my learning of 21st century technology and education, the use of blogs came first, being attached to the creation of an e-portfolio, this blog in fact. Initially, I found this task daunting, complicated in the setting up, navigation, learning of its linear text, coupled with the thought of exposure, terrifying. Now, however, although my anxieties are not completely diminished, I am a lot more at ease. Soon after, we were introduced to the concept of vlogs, taking blogging to another level, and indeed another level of exposure. The one positive that I viewed about vlogging, is the ability to rehearse until you are satisfied, albeit, a time consuming activity. Here, I will identify and critically explore research based around blogging/vlogging as a form of literacy. Please note, some citations are rather dated, as the use of technology in education, in particular within HE, has been slow moving, coupled with the minimal research which has yet been developed, I feel, they are still very relevant for this purpose.
Shao-Ting Hung’s (2011), Pedagogical applications of Vlogs: An investigation into ESP learners’ Perceptions, explores the use of a vlog project in an English for Specific Purposes course. This research article explores a vast array of findings of other researchers which have been drawn upon to create a wider perspective before outlining the findings from the survey conducted to identify the student perception. It was identified that blogging enhances student’s academic writing practices, raises awareness of the nature of academic writing, and assists the development of writing strategies, Bloch (2007) and Liou (2007).
Blog based pedagogy, is supported by Vygotsky’s (1978) socio-constructivism; “learning takes place when learners socially interact with people and internalise the knowledge obtained from the interactions”, they are accessible, and students take better care in the material which they present, (Richardson, 2006). Furthermore, vlogging, is shown to effectively enhance language teaching and learning and facilitate digital communication, allowing for inquiry based instruction and supports cooperative learning environment where student control over their learning is enhanced, (Chuang and Rosenbusch, 2005 and Wagener’s, 2006). Hung (2011) opines, it could document both verbal development and non-verbal cues which are crucial for language communication. Of 127 students surveyed, 88% students identified that vlogs provided a multidimensional perspective about learning, 82% that believed the use of vlogs evidences their learning process and 71% agreed their experience of learning through vlogs had been successful.
Furthermore, Lisa Beckhelhimer (2013); in an article, Revealing Research through Blogs and Vlogs, stipulates that having incorporated the use of blogs/vlogs, over a five stage process, allowed for transparency in the learning process and allowed students to value the hard work involved in legitimate research, “showcased students clicking with a purpose, rather than just randomly”, that it improved weaker writer’s ability and also identified, the stronger students’ pitfalls, such as; finding it difficult to correlate research findings because they were not fitting of a preconceived idea.
According to Beckhelhimer (2013), the use of blogs/vlogs assists the teacher to identify gaps in students’ knowledge and understanding/areas, they were fun and interesting to grade and the integration of writing with technology engaged 21st century student.
Little in the way of downfalls in the use of blogging/vlogging as a form of literacy, have been noted and or illustrated throughout this research findings, however, Chang et all (2005) as cited by Hung (2011) identified that it is time consuming and grading procedures are subjective, (Chang et al, 2005). Furthermore, it is better to “motivate students with diverse pedagogies”, (Hsu et al, 2008).
With minimal illustration of drawbacks within relevant research, coupled with the limited samples of students having been surveyed, it is difficult to adequately weigh up whether or not blogging/vlogging is a favourable alternative as a form of literacy. As the use of technologies in education grows, it would be useful to see the boarder perspective, being illustrated from the researchers, for example; grade inflation, pass rates and progression, further still, the student perception survey could have been conducted further to invoke feedback which also illustrates what they perceives as downfalls. With this lack of consideration to draw upon, we have little option but to take from this positives which are emanated here.
I would agree with Beckhelimer, (2013), that the use of vlogs may assist to identify the gaps in students’ knowledge and understanding, and they may be more engaging than a desk/portal full of written assignments to work through and grade. However, going back to Hung’s (2011) research, citing, Chang et al, (2005) indicates, grading may be subjective, this is concerning, and I question, whether or not, the moderation process’ would curtail this. I have two pertinent questions to mind; 1) Blogging: How do you know whether or not the individual set the task is actually producing the work? 2) Vlogging: how do you monitor academic offences? In any event, as Beckhelimer, (2013) who identified how integration of blogs/vlogs impacted upon the different level learners, I feel, is an imperative observation to have been made. Could this then be identified as a fairer means of assessment?
From these findings, it could be viewed that blogging/vlogging as a form of literacy provides positive results and thus, blogging/vlogging can serve as a pedagogical device to increase interaction between teacher and students. Furthermore, having considered the many benefits to the use of blogging/vlogging, I have come around to the idea of using blogging/vlogging as a form of literacy in my practice. I have identified areas to ingrate this into the scheme of work for a module of which I lead. For example, to demonstrate the learning process and for evidencing the development of court room etiquette. This notion would be supported by Hung’s (2011) opinion that it could document both verbal development and non-verbal cues, which are paramount in a court room scenario, and for the development of practical legal skills. Furthermore, it could be a great tool to which student’s document the development of their research for their moots, making the learning process transparent, (Beckhelhimer, 2013), and additionally, students could use this for their reflective practice. Scope for integration is vast, however, where do you find that right balance? Over use by a power-point presentation equates to death by power-point, what would the over use of blogging/vlogging produce?
Beckhelhimer, L. (2013). Revealing Research through Blogs and Vlogs [Online] Ohio Journal of English Language Arts Vol 54 Number 1 Winter/Spring 2013 Pp 40-43 http://www.octela.org/_resources/OJELA/issues/ojela53v1.pdf Accessed 24/02/2015
Shao-Ting Hung. (2011). Pedagogical applications of Vlogs: An investigation into ESP learners’ perceptions British Journal of Educational Technology. Vol 42. No 5. 2011. Pp 736-746 Available through University of Plymouth Library. Accessed 23/02/2015
For further reading, See;
A pertinent article which I would recommend, see;
House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills, Report session (2014-2015). Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future, [Online] Parliament publication. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/lddigital/111/111.pdf
Line, H. January (2015). Twitter’s not literature, but it can be a novel teaching tool, [Online] The Times Higher Education, http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/twitters-not-literature-but-it-can-be-a-novel-teaching-tool/2018184.article Accessed 16.02.2015
Parr, C. February (2015). 6 key trends accelerating technology adoption in higher education in 2015 [online] The Times Higher Education,
Trier, James. (2007). Media Literacy, “Cool” Engagements with YouTube: Part 1. International Reading Association; Journal of adolescent and adult literacy. Vol 50(5) pp408-412 Available through University of Plymouth Library. Accessed 23/02/2015