How is it possible to evidence whether students are engaging with a course? What can be done to increase their level of engagement? Since the advent of blogs in 2002 a comprehensive body of research has developed around the pedagogic benefits of educational blogging and its value in teaching and learning, notably in encouraging reflective practice, social interaction and participatory learning (Burgess, 2006. Blogging to learn, learning to blog. In A. Bruns & J. Jacobs (Eds.), Uses of blogs (pp. 105–114). New York, NY: Peter Lang; Farmer, Yue, & Brooks, 2008; Williams & Jacobs, 2004). This chapter investigates whether blogs are also an effective tool for supporting and sustaining a community of learners in Higher Education and increasing their engagement in a university course.
The researchers used a case study methodology to examine whether the introduction of blogs had led to the development of a community of practice around an undergraduate course at the University for the Creative Arts. The data collected revealed that the course team had successfully developed a thriving online community involving students, staff, alumni and industry, with students displaying high levels of engagement and interaction. The discursive, commentary nature of blogging enabled students to engage in peer-supported learning, with the online ‘always on’ nature of the community providing a 24/7 support network. In addition, tutors were able to assess clearly the level of engagement of each student and provide targeted, timely feedback for those students who required more support.
It is hoped that this research will be informative to tutors and academic support staff who wish to explore the potential of using collaborative online technologies to enhance student learning and engagement.
Reeves, T. and Gomm, P. (2012), "Blogging All Over the World: Can Blogs Enhance Student Engagement by Creating a Community of Practice Around a Course?", Wankel, C. and Blessinger, P. (Ed.) Increasing Student Engagement and Retention Using Online Learning Activities (Cutting-Edge Technologies in Higher Education, Vol. 6 Part A), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 47-72. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2044-9968(2012)000006A005
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