Academic journal article International Education Studies

Group Blogs as Toolkits to Support Learning Environments in Statistics Subject: A Qualitative Case Study

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Group Blogs as Toolkits to Support Learning Environments in Statistics Subject: A Qualitative Case Study

Article excerpt

Abstract

In this paper, we describe the introduction of blogs to a class of Masters in Technical and Vocational Education students taking the MBE 1223 Statistics in Education module in Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM). The purpose of the analysis is to elaborate on the perception of the participants towards blogs before, during and after training regarding the usefulness of their class blog. For the purpose of this study, participants will be required to handle their weekly reflective journals or their learning logs using their class blogs instead of handing them in hard copy weekly. Participants will be encouraged to blog and to provide feedback to their classmates' comments. Respondents will be required to reflect on lessons weekly and to write their reflections on the class blog. They were also required to reflect on their use of the technology in their module.

Keywords: Blog, Collaborative, Reflective, Statistics training

1. Introduction

The design of learning environments utilizing blogs is an emerging area for research. Blog is a website where entries are made in journal style with entries displayed in reverse chronological order, meaning the most recent entries at the top of the page to allow readers to see the latest blog entry first. "Blogging" refers to the act of writing to or interacting with a blog and one who blogs is called a "blogger". The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

While there has been a lot of study on the usage of blogs and wikis in other countries, little research has been done to incorporate the use of blogs in classrooms in Malaysia. There are still considerably low level practices of online teaching and learning method in most of the Institutions of Higher Learning in Malaysia. Nevertheless, there have been some efforts being done by organizations or by lectures themselves. One of the methods currently in practice is communication through blogs that have been developed by lectures themselves. The use of the Learning management System (LMS) are being adopted by some Universities namely, the University Tun Hussein Onn (UTHM), the University Sains Malaysia (USM), and the University Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI). However, the usage of online teaching and learning is limited since it is still being considered as a new method.

According to Williams and Jacobs (2004), higher education is beginning to explore the potential educational value of blogs as means to promote deeper learning and integration of learning experiences from inside and outside the classroom. Blogs appear to be used as a collaborative or reflective space to support students' reflection on resources and content (Dron, 2003; Williams & Jacobs, 2004). Blogs are also being used in education especially as group blogs for pupil-to-pupil communication and display of work, a tool for student portfolio and classroom management tool and for reflective learning and peer support (Hall and Davidson, 2007). Duffy and Bruns (2006) further add that tools like blogs and RSS (a format for syndicating news and content) enable content editing collaboratively, peer assessment, formative evaluation of the end product, individual as well as group reflection on learning experiences and user-centric latest information regarding changes in collaborative work spaces. Sessums (2005) believes that if the collaborative environment is structured to provide regular feedback and allows the exchange of opinions, hence, there is a possibility that the reflective thinking will more likely be constructive and meaningful. Researches in the field of E-Learning show that there are three problems that have been identified. Firstly is the lack of students' collaborative learning skills. Secondly, the education programs for teacher itself do not require teacher to effectively utilize technologies in the classroom. The third problem is the lack of reflective activities in teacher education programs. …

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