One my classes this spring is focusing on student centered learning, with a strong dose of computer based instruction. One of the cool things from this class is that we are sharing research interests with each other and getting to read what each of my classmates is interested in.
My reading this week was on blogging! Specifically using blogging with college students who are studying to become early childhood teachers.
Fesakis, G., Dimitracopoulou, A., & Palaiodimos, A. (2013). Graphical Interaction Analysis Impact on Groups Collaborating through Blogs.Educational Technology & Society, 16(1), 243-253.
There are three questions that the research focused in on:
- How user friendly are group blogs for students and to what extent to they believe that blogs can enhance collaboration and communication skills? How consistent is blogging to the “learning by design” approach?
- How useful and understandable is the information provided by the interaction analysis graphs according to the students? What graphs do the students prefer?
- To what extent do the interaction analysis graphs affect self-regulation of the group blog members? Are there any significant differences for impact among the different kinds of graphs?
The students travelled through four different phases on their blogging journey: an introductory blog, a lesson plan and comments on other classmates blogs, lesson plan revision with continued comments, and finally, a completed lesson plan/project.
This was interesting to me – I had not seen the research before on providing input to other teachers about lesson planning. One of the reasons that I started blogging was to get input from others. In my “gut” I knew that more brains providing feedback on my lesson, made my lesson better. There are certain holes in my thinking that I don’t see.
This research then, is based on social constructivism. This learning theory states (in super simple terms) that knowledge comes from social interaction about specific experiences. If you like gaming, think about a discussion board of best practices for particular levels. If you teach, think about sharing your lesson plan at lunch and modifying it based on feedback. These are simple versions of constructivist learning theory.
This research followed the blogging interaction of 147 students during a spring semester. These students were divided into groups of seven. All of the blog post contributions and interactions were graphed in several different ways, from bar charts, to bubble graphs, to a social network analysis diagram.
Analysis of the data (I will spare you the nasty statistics) indicated that students found publishing, browsing, and monitoring blogs quite easy. Over half of the student thought that group blogging helped to improve collaboration and communication (not unlike what happens during an #oklaed blogger challenge). 70% of the students shared that they would blog again. And the “learning by design” approach requirements were met.
On the graph side of the research, things were a little harder to interpret. Different groups were in control, different groups were given specific graphs, it was pretty complicated. The result for question number two was this, that the graphs that involved number of posts per student and the number of comments the student received were most helpful. The graph that was easiest for the students to interpret was a bar graph, the most difficult was the social network analysis diagram.
Question three was very statistical – the research team used ANOVA (fancy stats stuff) to analyze the results. Those results showed that these students had a positive reaction to the interaction analysis graphs, that these graphs made a positive impact on group collaboration and numbers of posts and comments.
To tie this back to my interests in gamification – I see this stuff everywhere these days – the constructivist approach to knowledge. We all have unique views to share with and learn from each other. Graphs are visuals that give feedback to what I am doing and how it appears to be going. Just like in a game, when I make a move, there is a consequence (good or bad) and I learn from that.
All of the cool people leave comments - what are your thoughts?