Using a blog to encourage critical reflection

This is the theme of my presentation to a Best Practices in Teaching workshop at the World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC).

The project has involved using a blog not for students to publish their journalistic work but for them to reflect on their practical journalism — primarily as a tool for enhancing their learning.

Notes from my presentation are available as a PDF here — intended particularly for those at the WJEC teaching workshop. I’d be particularly interested in having your comments, whether you came to the WJEC session or not — please add them below.

5 Comments

  1. I liked your slides on the parameters for the blog. Keeps the key purpose in mind and upfront.

    In your shoes, I would also have cautioned students that there are implications for going online – eg. sloppy spelling, stoopid remarks can come back to haunt you later in life when people Google you. That this is not just a diary, it’s publishing.

    In addition, I’m not sure that much of the functionality you specify could not have been achieved in paper journals. That’s fine – but have you really explored the extra functionality that a blog can offer (eg. visual records, highlighting linkages, tags, clouds n swarms, databasing)? Can students push the envelope with this?

  2. Interesting presentation Joanthan. I used blogs in the graduate journalism course at the University of British Columbia. The students had to chose an issue to blog on for a semester, posting two entries per week. The aim was to combine the idea of focusing on a beat with commentary/analysis. As you might expect, some students excelled while other struggled to break out of the conventions of news reporting.

  3. Thanks for your comments.

    Guy — good point about the implications of publishing online. Initially I set up the blog with the students to be accessible to anyone who knew the URL. However, one student said she wanted to blog about aspects of her work experience on the Daily Xyzabc and felt uneasy about doing this as the news editor (and others) there could potentially read it. I then made it accessible to registered contributors only (ie students and tutors) — with some reluctance because it would also rule out interaction with those outside the course.

    We didn’t make full use of the online functionality — but that was not the main aim; encouraging critical reflection was. At the same time, having the blog rather than paper journals made students familiar with that medium; enabled everyone to see what was being posted; enabled hyperlinks, embedded video etc; and started to get students to ‘think digitally’ more.

    Alfred — interesting to hear someone else’s experiences of this. Have you undertaken any evaluation of the blog(s) and the learning from using it/them?

    I’d be interested to know what assessment criteria you used; whether each student had their own blog; and, following Guy’s comment and my response, whether it was accessible to anyone. If the latter, are you prepared to share the URL(s)?!

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