What brings you here?
I started an MSc in Online and Blended Education at Edinburgh Napier University in September 2015. This blog is part of the assessment for the second module, Supporting the Online and Blended Student Experience.
Why did you choose to a blog?
Motivation, time, critical thinking, professional development, my quiet space
While working full time, finding the time and enough quiet space to think and study regularly is challenging, but I think blogging will give me the best chance to succeed in module 2.
In module 1 I found that by forming a habit of regularly reading and writing in small chunks (by contributing to a discussion forum) I was motivated to reflect on the reading in a way which slotted into my professional and personal life. I hope that this blog will act in a similar way motivating me to think throughout the week, and become a place where I can record ideas to be formed into a coherent post once a week. The only difference with the blog is that my thoughts are open to an unknown audience. This should have the added benefit of encouraging me to be more critical and think more deeply about what I write; we shall see!
The awareness of an audience, no matter how virtual or tentative, encourages more thoughtful construction of writing (Jacobs, 2003 cited in Wheeler, 2008, p1 ).
I’m also encouraged by Simpson (2013, p14) who lists the skills and qualities needed to succeed in distance education:
- Motivation to learn: I’m not naturally motivated to use my spare time to study, but writing one post is achievable and gives a sense of accomplishment (See the S (Satisfaction) of Keller’s ARCS theory of motivation (1998) in Simpson, 2013). This may keep me coming back!
- Can deal with job/family pressures: Blogging can be done at any time or place, at a computer or on my smartphone, capturing thoughts as they arise. It also removes assessment stress as workload is spread throughout the term.
- Can organise one’s own online environment: This blog is completely customisable and I take pride in producing a clear and attractive piece of work. Must be careful not to spend all my time refining the appearance though!
This is also a valuable activity for professional reasons; by keeping a blog, I’ll be able to consider its value for assessment, for learning, and for motivating learners of all types.
How will you use this blog?
I’m writing primarily for myself,
- to keep a record of my experience as an online learner
- to make meaning for myself
- to support the development of the critically reflective voice required at Master’s level.
However, being online brings the benefit of a community of learners. I’ll be keeping up with the other bloggers in the cohort to provide sanity, moral support and a rich source of thinking around supporting the blended and online learner.
Blogging can also alleviate the feelings of isolation associated with distance learning. (Dickey, 2004 cited in Kerewalla et al , 2009, p32)
How do you feel at the start of this journey?
I’m enthused! There are so many reasons to work like this, so the challenge will be to put all these good intentions into practice. Let the hard work commence!
[Post script: Life happens. Saturday was set aside for getting the blog up and running. Mid morning I was called away unexpectedly to take a family member to hospital (not too serious it turns out). But my time was gone. Learning point: Students have real lives that we don’t always see and although they may be absent online, they may well be engaged in thought and doing their best to get back to you.]
Note to self: Kerawalla article is a good summary of the use of blogs in education.
Jacobs, J. (2003) Communication over exposure: the rise of blogs as a product of cybervoyeurism. Cited in Wheeler, S., Yeomans, P., & Wheeler, D. (2008) The good, the bad and the wiki: evaluating student-generated content for collaborative learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(6), 987-995
Kerawalla, L., Minocha, S., Kirkup, G., & Conole, G. (2009) An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging in higher education. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 25 (1), 31-42. Available from doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2008.00286.x [Accessed 5 February 2016].
Simpson, O. (2013) Supporting Students in Online and Distance Education. Oxon: Routledge.