Personal Learning Journal--Course Design for Using Weblogs in Higher Education
Electronic Journal of e-Learning Volume 6, Number 3 ISSN 1479-4403
This paper examines the impact of weblogs on individual learning processes in a university environment. It outlines experiences with weblogs as an instrument of learning reflection or a learning journal. This paper presents an innovative didactical concept based on the Web 2.0 paradigm and evolving technologies. Weblogs have emerged with the paradigm of Web 2.0 and user-generated content and have gained in importance through the various evolving application contexts, for example, the transfer of knowledge within enterprises, the communication and exchange of experiences with customers, and even the acquisition of projects by power bloggers. In this paper, weblogs are considered in the specificity of learning journals that focus on two objectives: first, supporting individual learning by means of reflection as the most effective method of individual learning; and, second, multiplying these efforts through interaction and discussion within a group of individuals with common interests. The latter is based on contribution-based pedagogies that maintain that collaboratively creating learning resources and sharing them with others are promising practices through which students can learn. Additionally, it is argued that this style of teaching relates to a growing trend in higher education in which the focus of learning is moving away from building a basic knowledge store and toward emphasizing a wider range of skills. We successfully applied the weblog approach to several academic courses during which qualitative and quantitative data were collected in an empirical study. This paper reflects our experiences with weblogs as a support for university lectures and is based on four semesters of exploration and adaptation. Within the scope of the research approach of "design research" (Hevner et al. 2004), it provides a structured method to support individual learning processes within a learning community realized by a weblog in the specificity of a learning journal. Verification with students and experts has led to a holistic method through which lecturers and coaches can successfully integrate weblogs into academic courses or even professional trainings. This paper addresses both academic learning and professional education management initiatives. Essentially, it aims at in-house trainings in enterprises, vocational schools, and universities. Interviews with experts will also reveal how to successfully align this method with professional trainings. In conclusion, this paper suggests a method with which to design a learning environment by means of learning journals to enforce increased individual learning. More specifically, it reveals that learning journals enable the achievement of level three (transfer to and application in the working environment) of "Kirkpatrick's" (1994) four-level model, which was generated to evaluate learning programs.
Hain, S. & Back, A. Personal Learning Journal--Course Design for Using Weblogs in Higher Education. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 6(3), 189-196.
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