About Blogs, Journals and Wikis
A blog—a shorthand term that means web log—is a personal online journal that is frequently updated and intended for general public access and use. Most blogs also have some kind of commenting system, so that people can respond to and interact with one another. Blogs encourage students to clearly express their ideas and addresses the need to expand various aspects of social learning. Moreover, they are an effective means of gaining insight into students' activities and provide a way to share the knowledge and materials collected.
In Blackboard Learn, blogs consist of two elements:
- Blog entries: Text, images, links, multimedia, mashups, and attachments added by course members open for comments.
- Comments: Remarks or responses to blog entries made by other course members, including the instructor.
You can choose to allow students to participate in blogs in three ways:
- Course Blogs: You can create a course blog and determine the topic you want addressed. All course members can add blog entries and comment on blog entries.
- Individual Blogs: Each person can add entries only to their own blog. All other course members can view and add comments to it.
- Group Blogs: If you enable the blogs tool for a group of users. Group members can add blog entries and make comments on blog entries, building upon one another. All course members can view group blogs, but non-group members can only add comments.
You have full control over all blogs in your course and can edit and delete entries in any of the blog types. You can also delete user comments.
Wikis allow course members to contribute and modify one or more pages of course related materials, providing a means of sharing and collaboration. Users can create and edit pages quickly, while tracking changes and additions, allowing for effective collaboration between multiple writers. You can create one or more wikis for all course members to contribute to and wikis for specific groups to use to collaborate.
All course members can use the wikis tool to record information and serve as a repository for course information and knowledge. A course wiki is a vast source of information compiled by course members. Wikis can help build a community of collaboration and learning by increasing social interaction during the exchange of information.
Students use a wiki to collaborate on shared content from different times and locations. They can view previous changes, comment on content or changes, include new content, and revise existing content. Similar to the discussion board, you act as a facilitator instead of the provider of all course content. Unlike a blog, which can be quite personal, wikis require intense collaboration, where information is linked to and built upon.
Use Wikis to Assess Student Engagement
You can grade student contributions to a wiki or use it solely for course content review. In either instance, a student can contribute multiple pages to a single wiki and make unlimited revisions to pages submitted by any course member. You can also enable the group wiki tool to help groups share and interact.
You can view all changes to all pages in a wiki. You can view the changes at a high level, and you can drill down to see information about contributions by any individual.
Journals are a personal space for students to communicate privately with you. Students can also use journals as a self-reflective tool to post their opinions, ideas, and concerns about the course, or discuss and analyze course related materials. You can create journal assignments that are broad and student-directed as your students reflect on the learning process and document changes in their perceptions and attitudes. Students can describe problems faced and how they solved them. Also, you can create instructor-directed journal entries that are more formal in nature and that narrow the focus by listing topics for discussion.
Journals are ideal for individual projects. For example, in a creative writing course, the owner of each journal creates entries and an instructor comments. In this manner, a student can refine a section of a writing assignment over a period of time, using an instructor’s guidance and suggestions. A student can also comment on his or her entries to continue the conversation.
You can choose to make journal entries public, allowing all course members to view all entries. For example, you may choose to make a journal public when asking for opinions on how to improve the evaluation process. Students can read what other students wrote and build upon those ideas.
When used in the group area, members of a group can view and comment on each other’s entries for the group journal. The group, as a whole, can communicate with you and all members benefit from the comments.
You can grade journal entries or use them solely for communication. In either instance, a student can make multiple entries for one journal topic.