Advantages & Disadvantages

Under this topic, we discuss the many advantages and disadvantages of using blogs to teach and to learn.

Common Challenges with Blogs

Some challenges to consider when using blogs include:

  1. Ineffective contextualization: Students are unsure of the relevance of using technology to learn the course content.
  2. Unclear learning outcomes: Students are unclear as to what they are supposed to be learning in the blog.
  3. Misuse of the environment: Blogs are used as syllabi or a collection of links rather than as an introspective, individual reflective writing activity.
  4. Illusive grading practices: Students contributions improve with clear and transparent grading
  5. Inadequate time allocation: Expectations of student’s blog contributions exceed reasonable expectations for out of class learning.

References:

Reynard, R. (2008). Avoiding the 5 most common mistakes in using blogs with students. Campus Technology. Retrieved on Mar, 2014 from http://campustechnology.com/articles/2008/10/avoiding-the-5-most-common-mistakes-in-using-blogs-with-students.aspx

– Jennifer Rausch

 

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Advantages and Disadvantages

As an easy tool for instructors to use and often being able to be used for free, blogs can be an option to be utilized as a teaching tool. It is valuable to understand the advantages and disadvantages in using blogs to decide if it may be an appropriate tool for your teaching situation.

Advantages

There are many advantages for using blogs within education:

Accessibility – This is usually the biggest advantage reported by students. Students are able to access the blog at any time or any place. Blogs can be easily accessed through most any devices, including smartphones and tablets. Allowing students the freedom to discuss questions or post comments at any time throughout the course is beneficial. Students are able to potentially be more involved in the discussions because of the accessibility of blogs.

Collaboration – Blogs enable students to work collaboratively, being able to communicate with the instructor or other students in the class. Students can reflect on other students’ comments and respond with their own input. Collaboration enables students to be exposed to different views from other students, thinking of items that they may not have thought of themselves. Discussing topics collaboratively brings about different opinions or thoughts resulting in a thought provoking discussion. For a class such as mathematics, collaboration allows students to be able to correct each other’s mistakes. Students can learn the proper way to solve problems without having to struggle trying to figure them out on their own.

Ease of Use – Blogs are easy to use and familiar to most users. Most users may already be experienced in using the tool. Students would likely require little instruction prior to using blogs. In having students use a tool that they do not need extensive training to use, students may be more eager and receptive to use the technology.

Engaging/Enjoyable – Blogs could engage students to better learn the material. Students are more apt to engage in course work if they find the learning enjoyable. In using a technology that student may find enjoyable, students could learn without actually realizing it.

Encouragement – Blogs can allow students to discuss topics while offering encouragement to the other students. This can be especially true within a course such as mathematics or science. Students can work together on the problems, providing encouragement to each other.

Develop skills – Students are able to build upon their writing skills by getting in the habit of writing. Research and digital skills are also developed through the use of blogs. These skills will help students with their future educational endeavors.

Disadvantages

Although there are number advantages to using blogs within the classroom, there are in fact a few disadvantages to consider.

Public potentially able to see your blog – It is a concern that your blog could potentially be seen publicly. Although in most cases this can be overcome by the features of the blog. Most blogs, including WordPress which we are using, have settings to limit who can and cannot see the blog. Instructors would need to be aware of these settings and ensure the proper privacy configurations are in place. Often students are minors so it is imperative that no personal information or posts are shared outside the class.

Time consuming – Although it is easy to setup a blog, it can be often time consuming to keep up to date. Instructors must keep posting intriguing information in order to keep the student’s interested. To monitor the conversations and add information when needed takes effort. Since students would likely be blogging after school hours, it is a time commitment to instructors to be available after hours.

Students competing for conversation – Students can sometimes compete with each other for posting entries. This will not provide valuable discussion within the blog. Students can divert from the subject causing the discussion to go off topic.

Computer/device requirement– It may not be feasible for all students to have access to a computer device. Although this may be less of an issue because of computers being commonly owned, it still should be a consideration and possible a disadvantage.

References:

Hossain, M. M., & Quinn, R. J. (2012).  Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Blogging Activity in a College Euclidean Geometry Course. International Journal of Computer Technology and Electronics Engineering, 2(6), 1-8.
-Pam Perry