Tutorials and seminars are part o the culture o aresearch-led university, yet students are oten ill preparedto take advantage o the opportunities aorded bysmall-group teaching. Less condent students avoid takingpart while stronger contributors tend to dominateace-to-ace discussions. Tutors may have no knowledgebeore a tutorial or seminar o how well learners haveunderstood a topic, nor can they assess in advance whichstrategies to use to sustain discussions.
Blogging is a well-established vehicle or personalreection and commentary, although less requently usedunder assessed conditions. Nonetheless, blogging can playan eective part in the delivery o ormal curricula. In thisexample, a VLE-based blogging tool has been used toenhance the dynamics o tutorials and seminars and toimprove the consistency o students’ engagement withmore challenging elements o the curriculum.In this example, reective blogging, carrying 10% o the totalassessment, has replaced an assessed oral component onsome courses. Students are aware that commenting on eachother’s blogs is assessed and so contribute readily. However,there have been other positive outcomes rom the activity,notably greater confdence in undertaking critical evaluations.Students who, or example, dislike open discussion or haveimperect written skills are able to prepare their comments inadvance beore pasting them into the blog. Normally reticentstudents eel more able to contribute, even to challengeothers unseen in a blog. Hence a deeper level o discussiondevelops – both on the blog and in the subsequentace-to-ace sessions.Tutors have also ound advantages. By monitoring postingson the blog, they have better knowledge o how students areprogressing and can assess in advance how to approachace-to-ace sessions:
‘You hit the ground running, so the levelof discussion... is at a much deeper level.’ Tutor
Engaging learners in critical reection
University o Edinburgh
What is a blog?
A blog (web log) is an online refective journal in whichother internet users can post comments. Blogging toolsintegrated into VLEs allow access to be restricted tomembers o a closed group (or example, a course,module or tutorial group) to support ormallearning activities.
Case studies o technology-enhanced practice