The Phenomenon of Blogs and Theoretical Model of Blog Use in Educational Contexts

Nov. 07, 2008

Source: Computers & Education, Volume 51 No. 3, p. 1342-1352 November 2008

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The present study reviews prior studies on educational blogs and traditional computer-mediated communication (CMC) applications and analyzes the benefits of educational blogs over traditional CMC tools.
It develops a model for the use of blogs in educational contexts by taking into account socio-technical systems theory which consists of
(a) a technical subsystem,
(b) a personnel subsystem,
(c) an external environment, and
(d) a work system design, all of which are mutually interdependent (Hendrick & Kleiner, 2001).

Model for blog use in educational contexts

This paper reviewed prior literature and the socio-technical systems theory by identifying determinants of successful usage of the blog systems.
First of all, to improve the interactivity among students, students should be encouraged to allow other students to post comments on their own blogs.
As a result, it is expected to increase the amount of feedback.

Second, because a blog is inherently designed to be compatible with other social software and websites, instructors and students are recommended to seek relevant information from other websites, regardless of information format, and share the information on a blog.

Third, the RSS system is recommended to be embedded in a blog. I
n addition, instructors and students are required to learn how to use the RSS system.

A visualization tool can be employed to enhance the information retrieval.
The keyword-based search which is used in websites search engines is not sufficient when it comes to blogs particularly in educational contexts (Qi & Candan, 2006).
Furthermore it is not easy to detect the development pattern by using the traditional search method, since many educational blogs contain entries that are correlated with real world occurrences such as class materials and so on in chronological order (Qi & Candan, 2006).
Therefore, it is critical to understand the development of structure of blog entries and comments (Qi & Candan, 2006).
For these reasons, the visualization tool is considered the software contributing
to well structured displays of a large amount of information for blogs (Shneiderman, 2007).

Fourth, ownership of a blog might contribute to a decentralized system.
Students with blogs no longer need to intentionally visit a hub site to communicate with others.
Instead, the students concentrate on blogging activities on their own site and simultaneously communicate with other peer students by using the RSS system.

This paper also discovered that there was a lack of literature considering intercultural communication.
A blog is one of the social network software in which diverse users intend to share the identical interface of social network software. Such an intercultural communication on blogs is more likely to occur in present higher education; therefore, the cultural differences should be taken into account in the design phase of blogs.

Hendrick, H. W., & Kleiner, B. M. (2001). Macroergonomics: An introduction to work system design (HFES issues in human factors and ergonomics book series volume 2).
Qi, Y., & Candan, S. (2006). CUTS: Curvature-based development pattern analysis and segmentation for blogs and other text streams. In Proceedings of the 17th conference on hypertext and hypermedia (pp. 1–10).
Shneiderman, B. (2007). Discovering business intelligence using treemap visualizations. Online.

Updated: Dec. 01, 2008