Blogs vs discussion boards
When attempting to articulate the virtues of edublogs today, someone asked how they offered anything different from discussion boards. Fumbling for a response, I observed that the learner has much more control than they do in a linear, pre-determined discussion thread. An article published in 2004 by James Farmer provides a more erudite explanation, part of which is reproduced below:
‘While discussion boards can be placed alongside content in packaged courses and with limited opportunities to use the technology in ways unforseen by the designer, a weblog is essentially free-form and there is little, besides providing templates, guidelines and facilitating the group as a whole that the teacher can do to actively impact on the technical structure of their experience. … [T]his is not to say that an anarchistic structure is appropriate but rather to suggest that one of the key attributes of weblogs is that they have within them “incorporated subversion” (Squires 1999) which allows learners to express themselves and explore their context in ways independent of the original designers intentions.’
Thus, educators might design not with constraint in mind, but with freedom and flexibility in mind … ‘this emphasises the active and purposeful role of learners in configuring learning environments to resonate with their own needs …’ (Squires 1999 p. 1).
How do you assess a weblog?
Using an assessment rubric in much the same way as you would a discussion forum contribution. Just have yourself some generic criteria that facilitate evaluation of a learner’s powers of analysis and synthesis, and their information literacy for example.