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IADIS International Conference WWW/Internet 2008

BLOGGING IN TERTIARY EDUCATION

dr. Viktorija Sul!i!
University of Primorska Faculty of management Koper
Cankarjeva 5, SI-6140 Koper, Slovenia

ABSTRACT
Because blogging is spreading around the world we implemented it in a renewed e-business postgraduate course. In the
paper, a short blog history is presented and its usage in education. At our faculty, blogging was implemented as a study
activity to supports a postgraduate student research work. According to the survey results blogging helps students to
become more familiar with blogging, which represent well known Web 2.0 technologies, to help them acquire materials
for their research assignments and to extend their knowledge. Blogging also helps them to work online more efficiently.

KEYWORDS
blogging, higher education, blended learning, online study

1. INTRODUCTION
Web 2.0 has attracted a lot of attention in the last three year (Nass and Levitt 2007, 4). The term arouse as the
result of a brainstorming session between O’Reilly and MediaLive International in 2004 (O’Reilly, 2005).
According to the Whatis.com (2007) Web 2.0 is a term for advanced Internet technology and applications
including blogs, wikis, RSS and social bookmarking. Greater collaboration among Internet users, content
providers and enterprises is exposed as the most significant difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0
(Whatis.com 2007), even if the term Web 1.0 had not been used before the term Web 2.0 appeared. For Nass
and Levitt (2007, 4) the common characteristic of Web 2.0 technologies/concepts is its user centre nature.
Users can easily create the content, publish it on the Internet and share it with other users. Web 2.0 represents
a different usage of Web, which is more collaborative and more interactive. New services and publishing
methods required that new content have been developed. Blogging, for example, is a natural evolution of
personal web pages on which different almost static information were presented. Creating web pages before
blogs appeared was much more time consuming than using, for example, a Google service blogger.com. And
not only this – almost everybody can post comment on the blogs if authors permit it. This Web 2.0 advantage
is also a source for critics that opened discussions about credibility, ethics and legality of the web content.
Web 2.0 defenders point out that these problems have existed before and that end users alone will state the
final judgment (Whatis.com 2007).
The Web 2.0 technologies are adopted by businesses as well. Blogs and wikis are useful to share
unstructured information (Whatis.com 2007) and to support collaborative work in working environments.
Structural information can be easily access by RSS (Really Simple Syndication for RSS 2.0; more about RSS
on SearchWinDevelopment.com) that allows users to define their own information collection. Becoming
familiar with modern technologies, their capability and their ways of using has been a demand for business
school students and graduates. This is the reason why business informatics or e-business courses should be
constantly updated. In our efforts to renew the courses in the academic year 2006/2007 we implemented Web
2.0 technologies. New technologies were involved not only as a course topic or as a source of information,
but as a tool, which should be used in order to accomplish student activities. Especially blogs and wikis are
becoming very useful to use in the learning process. Blogs are a useful tool to collect different resources, to
collaborate and to develop new knowledge. Postgraduate study is more or less research oriented. Students
study different classical or web accessible resources, collect primary or secondary accessible data, compile
theories and connect them to their own research experience. Extended research work, irrespective if how it is
done, individually or in a group, have to be supported by usable tools. We thought that a blog as a Web 2.0

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Pyra Labs established the most known blog web site blogger. but it has the term has not been entered in Merriam-Webster dictionary so far.com). At that time Internet users included details of their personal life. Even though the blog as we know it today is ten years old. Some Internet experts named Dave Winer as the beginner. Even though a blog is declared as a Web 2. In the same year the term blog first appeared in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.com in this year. In 2004. who uses a blog as a media to record individual ideas. A reverse-chronological order was used to display content. but also as the author of the Weblogs. The UserLand as the first news aggregator was lately developed into RSS (Winer 2002). Their web page. when the “.com is a ping server that automatically notifies a subscriber when new content is posted to a blog (ibidem).com. H2: blogging helps students extend their knowledge. which still exists (http://www. the first official version of WordPress. books and technology (ibidem). images.com which was acquired by VeriSign in 2005 (Weblogs. The so-called “. Blogger). This file could be attached to individual accounts on a Unix system. 28 . Encyclopedia Britannica.plan” file techniques were used.com/Site/Welcome. or beliefs. McCullagh 2007a). culture. There are many discussions about when the first blog was born. not only as one of the founders of RSS. Barger and Joyce.plan” files were similar to present personal blogs. In this case a blog is a sort of a diary. In the paper bellow.0 has been introduced. 2.com). Entries can be made by a site owner – the blog author e.0 technology. (Whatis.bloggies. Blog implementation was carefully followed by weekly surveys and by a final questionnaire performed at the end of the course. the research results gathered in the case of implementing blogging as a student activity at postgraduate study level are presented.plan” file which was a publicly visible text file (McCullagh 2007a.robotwisdom. thoughts.0 tool (O’Reilly 2005) it was known and used before the term Web 2. Winer is important for the blogging blog history.plan” files were read through “finger” command that dates to pre-Internet ARPAnet era and was developed by Les Earnest (ibidem).com (ibidem). work etc. 2007b). its roots came from the early 70s.com/). H3: blogging supports student research work and should also be used by the next student generation. the term WebLog was abbreviated and de-capitalized to “blog” by Merholz on Peterme. is a collection of personally interesting links to articles about politics. in December 1997 first used the term WebLog.plan” files is in comments that visitors can submit. A blog may combines text. Forbes. In 2004. Winer is a pioneer of Web syndication techniques (McCullagh 2007a). similarly as in blogs used nowadays (ibidem). is an online journal or newsletter that is accessible on the Internet (Columbia Encyclopedia. a blogger. first nominations for the so-called The Bloggies were announced (http://2001. A blog consists of several entries arranged in reverse chronological order. Data collected by e-questionnaires were analyzed using SPSS program. In 1999.plan” file no comment was allowed (McCullagh 2007b). which is an essential blogging tool. initially known as a WebLog (web log or capitalized Web log are also common terms). videos and links to other blogs or web pages. Many blogs permit visitors to leave comments. We proposed that: H1: blogging offers students the possibility to become more familiar with the Web 2. A group can also maintain a blog. the time of bulletin boards.com had 1. Weblogs. In Wikipedia. Classical “. The results are presented in the paper below in figures and tables. travel. In “. too (ibidem. activities. g. In 2003.com declared the best blogs. even though he did not use the term WebLog. The blogger.1 Blog’s 10 Years or More? Blog.ISBN: 978-972-8924-68-3 © 2008 IADIS technology could fulfill this role efficiently. who created RobotWisdom. In 2001. the open source blogging software was announced.html). But blogs can be used for different purposes and with different reasons. THE BLOGS 2. where group members talk about the same topic. Some blog discussions can also be moderated. which were classified in the following blog categories: politics. Steve Garfield launched the first video blog (http://stevegarfield.1 million registered users in 2003 and became a Google property (Gillmor 2003). The basic differences between present blogs and “.com/). the term vlog is used for video blog. in a “.

Because of that. Blogs offer the challenge of different assessments ways – from peer-to-peer assessments to teacher assessments. The presentation. and to what extent – will the e-classroom be used only as a media for study materials delivery or to support the whole study process. as this kind of work requires from them to be adaptive and to coordinate their activities. Blogs cover the elements of portfolio-driven courses. Selingo (2004) reports about using blogs in the elementary. to facilitate user- centred learning. at the end of the course. The master/doctoral study program is more research oriented than the specialist study program.moodle. No HTML knowledge is required to publish a blog so students can easily use blogs as well. after the course had been delivered twice. Teachers made decisions about using e-classrooms to support their teaching or not. Two face-to-face meetings are usually organized for our e-business courses – one at the beginning of the course and the second. There were only 16 master/doctoral students 29 . Students attending the specialist study program and students in the master and doctoral study program could elect the course. According to Gill (2005) blogs can be used at different levels of education and for different purposes – to promote media literacy. BLOGGING IN A POSTGRADUATE COURSE 3. we started thinking about renewing it. IADIS International Conference WWW/Internet 2008 tech. Not only is the group work more economical. As Kennedy reports in her article (2003) blogging was spread at different educational levels and in different study fields. if they wished to develop it in a paper or even in the master thesis. photo. therefore students in both programs are working under the same study conditions. the students enrolled in the specialist study program (60 students) were divided in small groups. Because of the large number of students (76 students elected the course) two tutors were in charge for this course. During the previous academic year. to participate in class discussions. The course was carried out in a blended learning manner. So far school’s e-learning strategies had not forced teachers to move from a real classroom to an electronic classroom (e-classroom). which will help postgraduate business students to collect sources for their research work and as a media of reflection about course/research topics. media. An open source course management system Moodle (www. 3. where student work is collected.1 Student Characteristics and Blogging E-learning blend with face-to-face meetings in real classrooms (blended learning) was firstly used at our Faculty in 2003/2004. The course deals with the topics of the contemporary technology usage and with the management perspective of its usage.0 technologies as a course topic. as a research topic and as a tool that supports student work was an anticipated decision when course for the academic year 2006/2007 were planned. sports. Thus. The study in the first two years in the doctoral study program is performed in the same way as the study in the master study program. During their study students have to present at least one paper to the conference audience or publish a paper in a professional magazine. to manage course information. we offered them the possibility to make a research assignment during the course and. Implementation of Web 2. economics. movie. medical. Therefore. edited and assessed (Kennedy 2003). where different elements of writing can be assessed (ibidem). From the very beginning the course is supported by an e-classroom. The blogging activity in our course was implement as a tool. relevance and reputation were the criteria on the basis of which blogs were evaluated (Forbes.org) has been used at our Faculty from the beginning. war and celebrity.com 2004). Her experience with using blogging is connected to English writing. etc. quality. The postgraduate course Management of e-business is an elective course. in the second-grade classes and by high school students. Despite the fact that students do not particularly like working in groups. In between the students worked online and were supported by a tutor. 2. these students are treated in our research as the same student group – as a group of the master/doctoral study.2 Blog in Education Blogs may be used in different ways in education. students need to acquire competences for successful group work. Kennedy (2003) presents its usage as an interactive and immediate publishing tool. it is also more suitable for real situations in which working in small or a large group is a frequently used working method.

3 %). The same portion of students knew what a blog is and after the course had ended they had the same opinion with regard to the blog.com. which is used to support blended learning at our Faculty.4 % of students did not know what a blog is. Students were writing their blogs on a weekly basis – students of the special study program wrote them in groups and master/doctoral students individually.1 % of the students with their own blog change their opinion about blogs. With fulfilling different questionnaires offered to the students through the web-learning environment the students participated in the course evaluation. 35. can be easily modified and personalized. because few resources in the e-business field were available in the local language.ISBN: 978-972-8924-68-3 © 2008 IADIS enrolled in the course. but the blog interface is slightly rigid and not particularly user-friendly. Writing a blog improve my writing skills. Students read blogs of other groups weekly – each student of the specialist study program read blog publications of the other group and then wrote a report about group activities. Afterwards. Students had to read at least one (group two) paper connected to the selected e-business topic weekly and were obliged to reflect on it in their blogs. Blogging helped me find a lot of interesting web pages and other sources. The final course grade was determined by the blog assignments (30 %). Therefore we decided to use a Google application blogger. 60. Groups have to describe how the work dynamics is going on. offers blog features. Student opinion about blogging is presented in the Figure 1. Through blogging students discovered a lot of interesting web sources (82. Students could answer one or more questions. chose one of them and wrote a comment about it. 3. so individual work was easily accepted.1 %) a blog helped them to improve writing skills. I acquired additional knowledge in the field of other research assignments. It was expected that more foreign language resources would be used. Blogging helped me prepare the research paper. Each week tutors assessed the blogs. 32. Much easier than it would be in the larger group of the specialist study program. Because blogging. By reading other blogs help me to know my fellow students better.2 Data Analyzes Before the course enrollment.1 %) blogging supported them to prepare a research assignment and to almost one third of respondents (31. Students of both groups weekly reported about progress in their research. as a student activity. was introduced in the course for the first time. Moodle. Master/doctoral students read blogs of their colleagues at the master/doctoral study. which offers a user-friendly interface. Impact of blogging 30 . a blog can be open only to selected students (to a group and both tutors).8 % of respondents acquired knowledge from the topics that were investigated by their fellow students as well. students were asked about blog usefulness. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Figure 1.6 %) were in a foreign language. At the beginning of the course an e-business topic that would be researched in the final research paper had been selected by a student or by a group. the research assignment grade (64 %) and student participation in the course evaluation process (6 %). For more than a half (54. which was presented in the research assignment.4 % respondents) and acquired additional knowledge from the research paper field (70. Different resources were used when writing blogs – a half of them (48. I acquired additional knowledge in my research field. Blogging was introduced in the course to support the student research work.

Each student should have a possibility to select another activity instead of blogging (e.0 to be change (a number of posts or topics). were more motivated for their study (0. Students liked the idea of expressing their thought and reflecting on them freely as well. Especially because each student had to post an evaluation of the fellow student’s work and if their work had not been done in due time. This means that writing a research assignment is more difficult for them than maintaining a blog. Students were not full of enthusiasm about the weekly demanded number of posts and their frequency. The unsynchronized group work was the source of many complaints during the course. g.0 Blogging as a study activity was positively accepted by a half (52. while in the specialist study program blogs were maintained in groups.24). There were more positive than negative features exposed. 0 0. but the requirements need 20 27. Students liked to read the comments they have received from their fellow students. After the conclusion of the course. The blog appropriateness The blog appropriateness as a course activity fk fk% Next year students should have the opportunity to maintain a blog.0 preparing a research assignment). With regard to this question only one item could be selected. In our research. The variables that express positive blog impact (Figure 1) were transformed in a new variable and we found out that more skilled students in word processor usage noticed a less positive blog impact (-0. The reason for these differences probably lies in the way blogging was carried out. blogging did not attract only one fifth of the students (20 %). attitude to teaching and learning methods were also investigated.28).7 Next year students may have the opportunity to maintain the blog. 4 5. 11 14.33). IADIS International Conference WWW/Internet 2008 Some statistically significant differences were found between the two groups of students – blogging helped more the master/doctoral students to accomplish a research than it helped the students in the specialist study program.36). a research assignment. The same differences were found in the opinion about acquiring additional knowledge in their research field and in the research field of their fellow students.4 Blogging is too demanding. The possibility to design a blog according to their needs and to express their thoughts them was also well accepted. despite the fact that this is not obligatory.0 % of students blogs can replace other study activities like.4 % of students believed that blogging is not an adequate activity for the postgraduate course. In the Table 1. Students did not like if their fellow students did not comment on their blogs.0. These students are more creative (0.9 writing a research assignment). for instance. Students who were more satisfied with their blog design used the web better (0. so that we could get a picture about students who were more satisfied with the final blog design and its content. No more than 5.25) and have better leadership skills (0. student opinion about the blog appropriateness as a course activity is presented. Blogging is not an adequate activity for this course.7 %) of the students enrolled in the course. but in the end no students believed that blogging is too demanding. For 27. The most frequently exposed positive part of blogging was the possibility to comment on posts. maintaining a blog instead of 20 27. Students were asked about their satisfaction with the blog design. for 44 % of students the blogging attracted them so much that they will try to maintain their blogs in the future. The blog should replace some of other study activities (e. thus they are not willing to maintain their blogs in the future. On the other hand. The master/doctoral students maintained blogs individually. They assessed their satisfaction on a 5-degree scale (5=very satisfied. At the end of the questionnaires about student blogging experiences two open questions were asked – the students have to write what they liked or disliked about blogging. they could not have written the weekly blog evaluation in time as well. 1=not satisfied) with an average grade 4. The master/doctoral students found more interesting web pages and other useful sources that their fellow students in the specialist study program. Table 1. During the course the students complained a lot about blog requirements – each week at least three posts should have been posted to individually maintained blogs. 19 25. These students have no problem with working in 31 . 16 % of surveyed students were thinking to start their own blog after the course had ended.com offers the possibility to design a blog according to the user preferences. Google’s blogger.24) and they believed that they had better study skills than their fellow students (0. The correlation was statistically significant. g. We tested if there were any correlations between the research variables on the blog usage evaluation.

Case study.26) and preparing group assignments (0. The impact is statistically significant.24). 4. Interactive materials acceptance.01 Reading paper-based study materials 0. to connect theory with practice.24).0 technology. 32 . Implementing blogging at a postgraduate course was a good decision that should also be developed for the next generation of students.24 2. reading paper-based study materials and working in large groups. it should be decided if blogging should be performed individually or in groups. blogging was implemented in the education process for the first time. Taking into account that the course deals with new technology topics.7 % of students who recommended blogging for the next student generations because of its appropriateness for the postgraduate study. Blogging helps students to extend their knowledge as we stated in the second hypothesis presented in the first section of our paper.7 % with the variability of the variables: leadership skills. According to the surveys results.00.5 % of students changed their opinion about blogs after their own blogging experience. Group assignments.019. We tested correlated variables with a regression analysis (Stepwise regression method). or even more. the Web 2. reading paper- based study materials and working in large groups. with reading paper-based study materials (0. even though this was not obligatory any more. This hypothesis could be confirmed by 70. Role-playing. Variables with impact on blog design and content satisfaction – regression analysis Included variables B T P Leadership skills 0. Research assignment Even if the positive impacts of the three variables extracted with a Stepwise analysis are small – only 20.7 % variability of the blog design and content satisfaction was explained by 20.4 % of students did not like blogging as a study activity.459 0.3 % of surveyed students who believed that blogging helped them to acquire knowledge in their research field. Adjusted R2 = 0.ISBN: 978-972-8924-68-3 © 2008 IADIS larger groups (0. Study motivation. The students in special study program who maintained a group blog were more satisfied with the final blog design and its content. This hypothesis can be confirmed with the fact that 44 % of surveyed students keep maintaining blogs after they have accomplished the course.24) and using research approach as study methods (0.28).02 F = 7.02 Working in a large group 0. 67.42 2.0 principles were implement in the course. Our first research about blogging in postgraduate study showed that students who liked group work were more satisfied with the final blog appearance. They influence statistically significant variables: leadership skills. so the correlation between blog design and content satisfaction and the way of study is not surprising. It is interesting that after we encouraged students to work online they started searching for different possibilities to work online efficiently. Only 5. role playing (0.207 Excluded variables: Web usage skills. CONCLUSION During the previous academic year.319 0. More than a half of surveyed students (60. Creative skills. and an additional 16 % of students think of starting their own blog.8 %) also acquired knowledge from their fellow student’s research fields. Most importantly. Leadership skills were important as well. efficiently than they can work in classical environments.856 0. Presentations. Table 2. The blog design and content satisfaction was in a statistic correlation with oral presentations (0.25). Even if they were skeptical about online group work at the beginning of the course. They started to use GoogleDocs as a tool to write group assignments and Skype for a synchronic way of communication. Study skills. thus we can confirm our first hypothesis stated at the beginning of the paper.31 2. The results are presented in Table 2. that blogging offers students the possibility to become more familiar with the Web 2. Our students did not like a lot of group work even if they were aware that this skill was a desired competence on the labor market.23) and using interactive study materials (0.29). As we can see students who are more flexible are also more satisfied with the final blog design and content. some groups really discovered many possibilities that ICT offers offer to them to work online as. a case study (0. P = 0. Blogging usefulness was confirmed by 79. especially if the students come from different locations or study on a part-time basis.

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