As more and more educational technologies, primarily those of the computer-mediated communication genre become ubiquitous in higher educational institutions, teachers continue to discover alternative ways of improving the learning experience of students. One such technology that is already matured and has been in existence in the ICT sphere long enough which young people could easily relate to is the ?blog?. A blog, is a Web publishing tool that allows authors to quickly and easily self-publish text, artwork, links to other blogs or websites, and a whole array of other content (Crie, 2006). As such, this web-enabled technology provides teachers with an excellent tool for communicating with students even beyond the four walls of the traditional face-to-face classroom. Blogs can be highly motivating to learners, especially those who otherwise might not become participants in the classroom, primarily because they can easily relate to its interface and functions which are essentially similar to a website. More so, it provides for learners an effective forum for collaboration and discussion, while giving powerful tools for mentors to enable scaffolding to occur in the learning process.
Blogs are an excellent way to fuse educational technology and ?storytelling? inside the classroom and even beyond it. As Huffaker (2004) stated, storytelling can be considered as the first steps to developing literacy. Inasmuch as blogs promote self-expression, authors can develop highly personalized content, developing in parallel the writing and reading literacy of the learner, at the same time allowing him to connect with an online community where he can get feedback and continuously discover new knowledge from the topic he writes about. Blogs can be multidisciplinary, that is, reading other blogs and writing one?s own blog can be used in a variety of academic contexts. Thus, learners can express their perceptions on any number of subjects such as exchange of lessons learned after an experiment, discussion of the fundamental concepts of a formula being studied, situating themselves in a particular business or humanities context, etc.
There are a variety of ways by which teachers can use blogs in the classroom and thus improve the learning experience of students using this technology. These are: (1) creating standard class web(log) pages ? essentially pieces of information such as class rules, links to syllabus, announcement of homework that are remarkably easy to put together in a blog and be updated easily; (2) teacher-written blogs which cover the developments related to the course which provides a nice and easy way to write and link information in the course that shows real world implications, such as file-sharing on the Net; (3) organization of in-class discussion wherein mentors can set a discussion issue every week, and have students debate it in comments (Henry, 2007).
Indeed, our awareness about e-learning technologies should always be maintained; we should always be ready to respond to opportunities brought about by the constantly changing ICT and Web environments (Foggo, 2007). As permeation of new technologies at different levels of learning beset us, we as mentors need only to find the appropriate method to engage users of these technologies and react responsively to their needs. Putting blogs in the classroom is easily one of them.
Crie, Molie. Using Blogs to Integrate Technology in the Classroom. Teaching Today. Glencoe Online. October 2006. [http://www.glencoe.com/sec/teachingtoday/educationupclose.phtml]
Foggo, Lisa. Using Blogs for Formative Assessment and Interactive Teaching. Ariadne. Issue 51. April 2007. [http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue51/foggo]
Henry, J. P. The Street Finds its Own Use for Things. Weblogg-ed. From Leeds University Link. July 2007.
Huffaker, David. The Educated Blogger: Using Weblogs to Promote Literacy in the Classroom. First Monday. Vol. 9, No. 6. June 2004. [http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_6/ huffaker/index.html