On the ICT in TESOL MA module, Tilly Harrison uses blogging as both an assessment tool and a means through which to build community amongst students. As the module moves through various digital teaching tools and pedagogic themes week by week, the students are tasked with writing a weekly blog evaluating each tool. In their blogs, students think critically about how each tool might be used in their own practice and evaluate the opportunities and challenges of each tool. Students are then encouraged to read and comment on each other’s blogs throughout the module. The blogging assessment is also accompanied by an academic essay which focuses on the pedagogic uses of blogging or the students’ own journeys in blogging. Students are informed that unlike the essay, the blog is not intended as an academic piece of writing and should instead be written for an audience of teachers working in their home countries.
The blogging assignment helps with the student’s professional development and can act as a potential springboard for developing their careers after the module. Tilly has also found that receiving comments from their peers on their blogs has been essential for the students’ sense of wellbeing during the blogging assignment and the module more generally.
Tilly HarrisonLink opens in a new window, Applied Linguistics
- At the beginning of the module, students complete a questionnaire about their experience with technology and teaching. Tilly uses this questionnaire to break the group into smaller mixed-ability groups called ‘Blogging Buddy’ groups.
- Students attend an ‘Introduction to Blogging’ session. In this session, they look at the theory behind blogging as a tool and are also introduced to the platform Blogger, where they will be posting their blogs.
- Students look at influential blogs from English language teaching and evaluate each blog using a template that looks at organisation, content, interactivity and audience etc.
- Students then have the opportunity to write their first blog, which is a review of one of the blogs they have looked at so far. This blog is not assessed and instead Tilly uses this as an opportunity to give the students some initial feedback and encouragement by commenting on each blog.
- Following this, students begin blogging regularly throughout the module. This part of the process is fairly independent and there is no weekly deadline.
- In their ‘Blogging Buddy’ groups, students are encouraged to read and comment on each other’s blogs regularly. Students self-report how many comments they have made or received on a Wiki page. Tilly uses this to award prizes to the students who comment the most, however the comments are not assessed as part of the assignment.
- Students are offered the opportunity to give feedback on the module half-way through.
- At the end of the module students upload a single sheet with a link to their blog on it, alongside an academic essay on the pedagogic uses of blogging.
- Tilly gives her feedback to students via a recorded screencast, which shows how she navigated and interacted with the blog.
We’re not particularly hoping that they’ll just be enthusiastic and praise praise praise, [the students] need to show a little bit more depth and reflection and think about where there could be problems with this.