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Secret Google Tips for Researchers

Well okay, I admit, these tips are not so secret. The videos will help neophytes improve their Google searching skills. These tips come via John Evans @ IMYM from the Inside the CBC blog. (Use the left and right arrows to move betwen the four parts.)

Direct link to playlist. 

Looking at the Research – K12 Blogging

ResearchI have started to aggregate some of the research that I have been reading on the TeachingHacks wiki, under a new topic titled Research . I am looking for K12 research papers, peer reviewed journals and studies, and have been staying away from magazine articles for now.

Here is what I have so far on the topic of Blogging in K12. If you have any suggestions that speak directly to K12, rather than Higher Education, I would love to here about it.

Reflection and the Middle School Blogger:Do Blogs Support Reflective Practices? Beverly B. Ray and Martha M. Hocutt


Research examined 12 randomly selected blogs from a population of 38 teacher-created, teaching-centered blogs to determine whether they were useful reflective devices for practicing middle school teachers. The amount and depth of reflective practice, as measured by a researcher-created rubric, was examined as well. Results indicated that all participants engaged in some level of reflective writing. However, the depth and level of reflection varied within and among the blogs. The results reported here are useful for framing future research on the efficacy of middle school teacher blogs.

Among the key findings for me:

•A majority (78%, n=56) of individual entries demonstrated some level of reflective writing.

•The results of this study give insight into the efficacy of blogs when used by middle school educators. These results demonstrate the potential usefulness of blogs in promoting reflective practice with practicing teachers. However, results do not demonstrate that blogs are being utilized effectively for reflective purposes.

The educated blogger: Using weblogs to promote literacy in the classroom by David Huffaker


This paper explores the role of weblogs or “blogs” in classroom settings. Blogs, which resemble personal journals or diaries and provide an online venue where self–expression and creativity is encouraged and online communities are built, provide an excellent opportunity for educators to advance literacy through storytelling and dialogue. This paper explores the importance of literacy and storytelling in learning, and then juxtaposes these concepts with the features of blogs. The paper also reviews examples of blogs in practice.

Among the key findings for me:

•Weblogs provide an excellent opportunity for educators to advance literacy through storytelling and dialogue.

•The characteristics of weblogs such as the personal space it provides and the linkages with an online community create an excellent computer–mediated communication context for individual expressions and collaborative interactions in the form of storytelling and dialogue

Learning with Weblogs: An Empirical Investigation by Helen S Du and Christian Wagner

AbstractThe study investigates the impact of weblog use on individual learning in a university environment. Weblogs are a relatively new knowledge sharing technology, which enables people to record their thoughts in diary form and publish those diaries as web pages, without programming or HTML coding. The research sought to empirically determine whether the keeping of on-going (web based) learning logs throughout a semester would result in better overall student performance. This was hypothesized, because web based learning logs appear to promote constructivist learning, provide reinforcement, and increase accountability (non-anonymous idea sharing). Results from an information systems undergraduate course with 31 students indicate that weblog performance is a significant predictor for learning outcome, while traditional coursework is not. Weblogs appear to have highest predictive power for high and low performing students, but much less predictive value for medium performers. Results also suggest that there is a learning effect for weblog authoring.

Among the key findings for me:

•As a performance predictor, weblogs appear to be more appropriate than traditional course work. Capturing breadth and depth of topic coverage, and requiring students to place their work under public scrutiny appears to better prepare them for a comprehensive final exam and overall course performance.

•Weblogs enhance the traditional learning log, which facilitates cognitive constructivism, with collaborative elements, which facilitate social constructivism.

Ertmer, P. A, Richardson, J. C., Belland, B., Camin, D., Connolly, P., Coulthard, G. et. al. (2007). Using peer feedback to enhance the quality of student online postings: An exploratory study. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(2), article 4.


This study investigates the impact of peer feedback used as an instructional strategy to increase the quality of students’ online postings. While peer feedback has been demonstrated to support students’ learning in traditional classrooms, little is known about its efficacy in online discussions. To address this gap, we examined students’ perceptions of the value of giving and receiving peer feedback, specifically related to the quality of discussion postings in an online course. In addition, we investigated the impact of that feedback by comparing the quality of students’ postings, based on Bloom’s taxonomy, from pre-course to post-course. Results suggest that the quality of students’ postings was maintained through the use of peer feedback despite students’ preferences for instructor feedback. Students noted that peer feedback can be valuable and, more importantly, described how giving peer feedback not only reinforced their learning but enabled them to achieve higher understanding.

Among the key findings for me:

•based on the results of this research, instructors might consider the following recommendations when designing and implementing online learning environments that incorporate peer feedback:

  1. Help students understand not only how the peer feedback process works, but why it is being used (e.g., to provide additional feedback, to better gauge postings).
  2. Model and provide examples of effective feedback prior to implementing the peer feedback process.
  3. Provide guidelines regarding how to provide effective peer feedback, such as “always begin with positive feedback and then offer information on areas for improvement.”
  4. Monitor the process and, in turn, provide feedback on the feedback, at least initially, to help the process run smoothly and to allow students to benefit from the strategy.
  5. Ensure that the feedback is anonymous so that students can provide ratings without feeling pressure from peers.
  6. Use multiple peer ratings for each response in order to provide an aggregated view of the value of the response.
  7. Ensure that the process is easy for students to implement so as not to overwhelm them.

Nelson, L., & Feinstein, S. (2007, January 1). Research on Writing Conventions: U R What U Write. Online Submission


The purpose of this quantitative study is to determine how secondary students use conventions in classroom composition assignments compared to the Internet writing outlets of e-mail, instant messaging, and blogs. Thirty-two ninth grade students were identified to participate in this study. Half of the participants were deeply involved in online communication and half rarely wrote online. The main instrument involved was the 6+1 Trait Writing method rubric, which has enjoyed long-standing use in schools. The study found that students appropriately switched gears when writing in different situations. Students adhered to standard conventions in both classroom compositions and online writing. Students who wrote via e-mail, IM, and/or blogs showed worse usage of standard conventions than those students who did not write online except when it came to thoroughly poor users of conventions. However, online communicators demonstrated a slightly better command of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The findings of this study indicate that it is important to continue teaching conventions in our schools. Students need to view content, form, and conventions as inseparable. (Contains 8 figures.)

Among the key findings for me:

The focus of this reading is on using good grammar, spelling, and punctuation – by comparing online writing to offline writing. The answer to this seems – well – obvious. I mean, who marks the grammar of an IM conversation?

  • Students do adhere in some fashion to standard conventions in both classroom compositions and online writing; however, the former endures inconsistent application, and the latter suffers a downright shoddy performance.
  • Students who write via e-mail, IM, and/or blogs show worse usage of standard conventions than those students who do not write online except when it comes to thoroughly poor users of conventions. Then, online communicators demonstrate a slightly better command of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Students, for the most part, do switch gears when writing in different situations.

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