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H808 – Desktop research (CA9.1)

January 1, 2011

Research can take many forms, such as analysing data, conducting interviews, observing subjects, creating experiments and performing statistical analysis.

However, if we use the word ‘research’ in a more general sense, it can encompass the broader skill of being able to find out about a subject by reading and evaluating a range of information resources – what is sometimes termed ‘desktop research’.

Technorati released in August 2010 an article/blog about the ‘state of the blogosphere 2010, indication a steady growth  in the number of blogs. They found out that e.g. almost half of all bloggers worldwide are located in the USA, with only half of it in the EU, and that 64% are what they call hobbyist who blog for fun and to express their personal musings. They use also other categories, like part-timer, corporates and self-employed. They identify corporates as those who blog full-time and get paid for it, part-timers blog to supplement their income and spend about three hours and more blogging each week, whereas self-employed blog full-time for their own organisation, mostly about business. Well, that are not the categories I used, but I should really start to consider becoming at least a part-time blogger to earn some money ;-). I definitely blog more than 3 hours a week, I would almost say three hours a day.

Well, coming back to our task, where we asked to identify several categories that address the range of blog use in education. Here are my categories, though it is not always easy to separate the different categories.

  • Personal/private blog
  • Advise and information blog
  • Academic blog
  • Study blog
  • Class blog

A personal journal can be as well categorized as study blog, if it contains any educational content. Whereas most academic blogs provide information and advice as well. Nevertheless, I see a difference between academic and advice blogs, insofar that academic blogs serve mainly for self-representation, and to boost reputation and credibility and have a lot of personal information and the blogs are just one part of the website, next to other publications, presentations, podcasts, etc.


Category Description Example Comment on issue
Personal journal / private blog (showcasing) Students who maintain a blog simply for their own personal satisfaction, with no requirements from school. They can be a mixture of study blog and a personal blog. 

Some people might even prefer not to distribute it to the public. The OU blogs, e.g. allow to keep the blog public, to just open it within the OU, or to distribute it worldwide

Kate’s blog, 

a combination of personal and study blog

Kate is a colleague in my H810 course and she was so nice to give allowance that I use her blog as example.

No main issue
Advice and information blog Sharing of knowledge, ideas, resource, giving advice can be separated in more technical-related or pedagogical related issues.
Here an example from Wilson (The savvy technologist)
This site contains information that may be of interest to technology coordinators, technology integrations, instructional media specialists, classroom teachers, and school administrators. Most of the articles are related to blogs, wikis, and other Web 2.0 technologies. I’m interested in the ways new technologies shape curriculum, pedagogy, and broader culture
Helen Barrett
This week in Ed Tech
The savvy Technologist
Pedagogy/Technology
Academic blogs
(dissemination of research / promotion of academic work)
Experts/Academics who use blogs to publish their work to address even more audience e.g. Downes.
Stephen Downes is a senior researcher for Canada’s National Research Council and a leading proponent of the use of online media and services in education. Articles, presentations, blog, newsletter – kind of self-representation
Mitchell (2006) argue that those academics who maintain academic blogs consequently pushing their reputation and credibility, which comes from peer-to-peer review
Stephen Downes Pedagogy/Technology
Study blog Can serve various purposes:
e.g. ‘community building, resource consolidation, sharing ideas, emotional support or as a personal journal (Kerawalla et al, 2008)
 

The blog might be an internal course tool, like the OU blog, or it can be an external blog service.

Study blogs might be accessed, can serve as evidence for PDP.

Sylvia’s study blog 

OU study blog

Pedagogy/Technology
Class blog Class blogs foster community building and collaboration group work. Individual blogs link to the class blog which serves as hub. That makes navigation easier and it is more likely that students will read each other posts and comment on it. It is the social centre of the class where all information come together. It allows the teacher to leave messages of general importance, but also questions that prompt a response, but it can be also used to present interesting and good blog posts from others. The Edublogger Pedagogy

Well, it seems I should have looked at the resources provided by H808 first. Here is a collection of their suggestions.

This is a link to the Top 100 Educational blogs. Well, my first thought was it is good that they provide several subcategories, e.g. e-learning, but the first link went to Clive’s blog and his introduction sentence – In case you missed it – a year in posts kind of was to much showmanship for me and reading further that he is proud of his 104 blog posts and 35.000 + plus words, I have to say I wrote already more than 100 posts in a little more than 3 months 😛  The second link die not work at all. The link to the elearning Queen was not so inviting as well  – how can I use such a name?!, but at least they listed Stephen Downes, which I used as well as example for an academic blog.

Times Higher Education is the next resource suggested by H808 and leads to an interesting article about academic blogs. That reminded my on Lisa Mitchell’s (2006)  article ‘Adventures in blogland’. She states that there is a divide noticeable among academics who maintain academic blogs consequently pushing their reputation and credibility, which comes from peer-to-peer review and those who delay their entry to the blogosphere may risk their standing in the global academic community.

The article from Williams and Jacobs in the AJET (2004) could be considered as quite interesting, if it would not have been already six years old, well almost seven years, considering we write 2011 now.

So all in all, quite a mixed result, but we should not forget that the purpose was to identify serval categories of educational blog use.

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