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Blog and Reflect: The Learning Journal

Updated: Dec 8, 2022


We can say that a blog is an online diary or journal on a website. A blog's content typically includes text, pictures, videos, links from YouTube channels, animated GIFs, and even scans from old physical offline diaries or other hard copy documents. Another great vocabulary that I would like to highlight here is the word blogosphere. It refers to the world of blogs and the people who write them.


Nevertheless, for teachers, that word can mean so much more—yes, this word has been accepted to the family of a dictionary, sometime in the last ten years. Since a blog can exist merely for personal use, sharing information with an exclusive group, or engaging the public, a blog owner can set his or her blog for private or public access. I do the same thing. I use my personal blog for different purposes; one of them is to encourage reflective journal writing among my students to learn English.


Blogs and Blogging

First, blogging is writing—the 21st-century style—plain and simple. Blogging constitutes a massive genre. It comes in many forms, addresses myriad topics, and can certainly range in quality. As for me, blogging provides the best venue for teaching student writing. Whether they are blog newbies, avid bloggers, or anything in between, they will develop crucial skills with language, tone their critical thinking muscles, and come to understand their relationship to the world. Therefore, since a blog is a social tool, creating or reading blogs provides them with a better alternative method for interacting with others that do not exist previously. Below are some significant findings on the impact of the blog and blogging for both learners and educators.

  1. A blog offers authentic writing practice enabling learners to recycle language input learned in the classroom, provide an alternative way of communicating with instructors and peers, and create a collaborative learning environment.

  2. A blog is used as a platform to critically reflect on their learning processes and gauge the impact of blogs on their own professional growth.

  3. Learners are recommended to improve the use of blogs as their learning journals.

  4. By writing about their learning using blogs, learners could better see and understand their thinking and change their conceptions when necessary—both important elements in higher levels of reflection and cognitive processing.

  5. Blogging enables the learners to demonstrate independent action by taking responsibility for ownership of the content and quality of what they write as they produce a publicly accessible text.

  6. Learners enjoy writing informally through blogging for others to read.

  7. Blogging becomes a motivating source for learners’ personal development.

  8. Blogging gives benefits to the educator to prepare better activities for their students.

  9. Learners express their reliefs through blogging that their voices are taken into considerations.

  10. The ignorance of writing mechanics through blogging allows learners to share their ideas better.


Anyone can blog, and that includes you yourselves as the educators and your students. Blogging is one of my favourite ways to get students to write real-world material. If you have a blog, use it to introduce students to blogging by writing guest posts or responding to your post entries in the comment sections. You can have pairs or groups of students working together to write a post which you can proofread before posting. Alternatively, take some time to help students set up their blogs. Either way, make sure students respond to any comments on their posts, which is another way to foster social connections in the blogosphere.


Blog & Reflect: The Learning Journal

Here comes the introduction to my innovation in writing a reflective journal using a blog, namely Blog & Reflect: The Learning Journal. This innovation unveils the students’ experiences in using blogs as learning journals and expressing their views on the activities done. Qualitative data were collected from the observations of 52 engineering students’ entry comments and interviews with 8 students to gain more perspectives about their experiences using the blogs in their learning.


The focus is on writing reflections and getting feedback from students after each class activity during our regular face-to-face classes or online classes. I can always enhance my next activity based on students' feedback and not only from my observations and points of view. I realised that students expressed themselves better after they got used to writing comments via a blog. I let them write freely of what they had in mind without correcting their grammar or sentence structures. Those corrections would be done in Google Classroom, another platform for them to write. After each class activity, students were required to post their reflections on the learning practices and their classroom experience including the instructor’s teaching methods, their feeling on the lessons’ activities, their opinions, and optionally make comments on their peers’ messages. All they have to do is clicking on the link provided at the end of the blog post, and they can write responses or reflections to what I have initiated in topics and concerns on the blog entries.


The findings show that students enjoyed using computer tools in their lessons, and most of them expressed their relief that their voices were taken into consideration. Students’ recommendations to improve the use of blogs as learning journals based on their own experiences were also revealed. Contradicted to the assumption that abbreviated words and colloquial language may affect students’ writing development, the findings prove that the ignorance of writing mechanics allows them to voice their ideas better. This would become a motivating source for their personal development. This also benefits me as the instructor to prepare better activities for my future students and classes.


Visiting My Blog Solutions

I welcome all readers to visit my blog. Below are the instructions for my blog readers:

  1. Log in to the URL given: https://masturasspot.blogspot.com

  2. Viewers or readers will be able to see the blog headings and titles.

  3. Please browse through the listed category labels to search for interesting entries will be easier as bloggers will always label their entries under categories.

  4. Once read, viewers or readers can share their responses by clicking the comment sections and start writing.

  5. They can either use their names or remain anonymous, but my students have to use their real names for me to know who has written and who has not.

  6. If the readers are not interested in giving comments or responding to the blog entry, reading will be good enough to gain knowledge or new information on certain topics.

While I have briefly explained the innovation here, with a little time and a few clicks, the entire blogosphere is yours for the taking. So get clicking and bring the blogosphere into your classroom!


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This guest post is authored by Khalipah Mastura Khalid, a lecturer from Kolej Matrikulasi Kejuruteraan Kedah, Malaysia.

 

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