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Page history last edited by marj.kibby@newcastle.edu.au 11 years, 8 months ago

Blogging and Microblogging


This wiki page is provided for recording small group discussions about issues relating to the assessment of student-created blogs/microblogs in higher education.



Jenny Buckworth

Jacqui Ewart

David Jones

Marjorie Kibby

Katina Zammit

Scribe: Paulette Kelly


Discussion question:

When university students are asked to demonstrate their learning using blogging or microblogging, what academic standards, and assessment and reporting practices are essential or desirable?


Jacqui co-ordinates a journalism course and in this capacity has experience of blog use in higher education.  One criticism of journalists is they do not reflect or critically analyse their own practices.  Jacquie used twitter for self reflection.  “We knew they would have to use twitter in their professional life, their employers will require this”.  Twitter would allow the students to get professional practice and would allow them to develop their own brand – which is important because they will have a number of employers.  Some students’ response to twitter was to say – assignment done.

Jacqui told students she would not read all their tweets. Students were incensed by this. 

We didn’t have examples to show students.   We encourage students to follow twitters or ghost twitters of politicians.  It provides immediacy. 


Key points raised;

·         Provide examples to guide students

·         Choose the right technology for purpose.

·         Explain the choice of technology to the students.

·         Articulate the expected outcomes/standards to students


 The printed tweets were attached as part of their assignments.  Student used other twitter names and real names, so it was up to the student to provide assessable tweets.  We established a criteria for assessment.    Core learning outcome was ‘written communication skills’ – keep short  simple, relevant, informative and self reflective.  What happened in the story gathering – identifying own weaknesses.  Tweets are like writing a headline which is vital for journalism students to master.  Twitter was 5% of the assessment mark – this will be reviewed. 


Key points raised

·         Students need to be responsible for providing material in an assessable form.  Either printout or files.

·         Articulate criteria for assessment.


Katina – Co-ordinates english education students.  Instead of face to face we use blogs.  Students must read a novel  within a set period of time, they then engage in conversations online.  They had to submit a specified number of entries.  They took on roles in the academic blog – expectations set early that it is an academic blog.  An example/sample was provided to guide students.  Refer them to literature blogs outside so they can see format and roles they might make.  They must have references.  To have to make a link to theory they were required to use particular aspects of language, themes, drawing from more than their prescribed text.  This was not a collaborative writing exercise so wiki’s were not appropriate.  It was also to develop their reading and provided a means of tracking the students.  

“We needed to demonstrate that students are interacting with ICT as part of our  quality standards”.  Blogs meant they didn’t have to meet as a group and timetable.  Some chose to.  One blog was set up per group for the book review.  Students signed up for the blogs.  The academic set up groups –putting on the signup page on the front page.  This has been streamlined.  Being able to read each others writing is important – they needed to comment on each others blogs .  

Key points raised

·         The technology choice needs to be seamless to the students.  Streamline the setup and make it as simple to use as possible.

The technology is there to serve the purpose of the course outline.  The students were given more support because they knew exactly what they had to do.  They were more aware of their own writing because others were adding it.  The writing styles varied according to the role the student assumed.  This was acknowledged and expected and students were encouraged to change roles within the blog.

Key points raised

·         Understand the roles assumed on the blog.  Accept that writing styles will vary and assessment will need to be flexible to reflect this.


Marjorie used public blogging because of her background in situational cognition and learning in context.  A blog assignment for Music & Culture students which was public had musicians commenting on student posts. 


David – Used blogs for self reflection.  The students needed to submit a reference list as part of the blog.  Part time tutors did not work for this – their hours of work did not make it conducive to this type of activity.  We could see who had not registered and contributed and we could comment on student blogs.  Each students created  their own blog – we just needed the RSS feed.  The synergy of the public blog was what made it attractive.  We had a number of international students who were concerned about plagiarism, or students feeding off the academics feedback on one blog applying it to their assignment.  It made their lack of progress visible.  Use OPML feeds for tutors and students to see other students.

Key points raised

·         Assessment and feedback is time consuming.  Work practices might need to change to accommodate the assessment of Web 2.0 technologies.

·         Not all students are willing collaborators.


Jenny – The students reach the level of comfort within LMS, using them to submit their portfolios etc.  But when they realised that all of this is within the university,  they went public.  The hand holding gives them confidence to go out to the external blogs. 


Katina – The external blog provides much more design options. 


Jenny -  Public provides for serendipity, comments from subjects.  With blogs and twitter you can make constructive comments along the way.  Within a learning system the feedback is from within the system. 


Marjorie – students submit a file to Grademark detailing the types of posts they will make on their blog. Critical feedback and marks are provided on this private file, not as comments on the public blog.  Blog comments engage with the content, rather than provide assessment feedback.   


Jacqui – Students need to be aware of defamation.  On twitter you can be public or private – students were given the option – private was just for the student and the academic – not shared with other students.  Privacy was an issue for some students, particularly when the task was to be self critical.  Reliability is something students need to be aware of.  A set of standards and rules for the students was required.  The fact that these posts will be available  via google for a long time needs to be highlighted - do not mention names unless necessary. 

Key points raised

·         Agrees with David’s finding that not all students want to collaborate.  Students should be provided the option of privacy, or have the consequences of publicity explained.

·         Students need to be guided in their use of the forum.  Standards and rules should be provided to students.  Students need to understand the legalities, the reliability, the public nature of the forum they are using.

·         Academics need to be cognisant of the forum they are providing feedback via.


Jenny – we need to talk about where assessment lies – only with tutors, lecuturers or peer.  All of these new technologies provide for collaborative assessment.

Key points raised

·      The nature of assessment needs to be understood in light of collaborative learning.


Points for discussion with the roundtable

Clear Learning Goal

Appropriate Tool to meet goal

Clear understanding and explanation of purpose of use

Understanding of characteristics of form (tool).

Familiarity with tool don’t assume all know IT

Rules and Standards for tool

Are you teaching the tool and assessing it or other skills and knowledge?

Strong Best Practice examples required.

Relevant criterial and feedback mechanism for students

Appropriate type of assessment for tool and outcome.  I.e. Group; Development; public; private; peer etc.


Comments (2)

jacqui ewart said

at 11:45 am on Nov 20, 2009

Lookign forward to sharing some ideas on my first year journalism students' use of Twitter as a tool for self-reflection, and for assessing their ability to keep it short and simple when writing - a key rule of journalism.

Bobby Elliott said

at 8:55 pm on Nov 23, 2009

Will be interested to see the suggested marking scheme (rubric).

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