This post is an example of engaging in sense-making, weaving ideas from one source into existing ideas and engaging in critical inquiry and analysis.
Sources: (drawing from Tony Bates’ academic blogging format)
Konrad Glogowski’s Blog of Proximal Development
Glenn Groulx’s Overview of Academic Blogging
Konrad Glogowski worked with grade eight learners, and used blogging to encourage critical thinking. His blog is an example of how one practitioner has used his blog for his own action research, as he summarized his own reflections and insights for himself, as well as others.
I am interested in this blog because his ideas about assessment are close to how I have conceptualized (just in theory) how to use blogs for adult literacy learners. In particular, the challenge is to identify how blogging can aid fundamental level literacy learners (at about grades 6-8). I have been looking for ideas on effective assessment tools for this specific group of learners.
Here is a link to a personal progress chart (shown below) for grade eight learners as a form of assessment of their blogging. Interestingly, it draws on some of the ideas from Heimstra on individualized instruction, particularly learner contracts.
In particular, Glogowski uses a form that asks learners to reflect on goal-setting, identifying their own exemplars of practice, resources “tapped into”, other peers’ blogs they have been reading, next steps, mapping own progress on a timeline, and a elaborate meta-cognitive exercise describing past, present, and future learning.
How could I apply it to academic blogging, in the context of AU Landing? How could I apply this to my research with adult literacy learners?
The form above could be re-purposed as a blog post form, so that I provide a template that students can use when posting a reflective post as part of their assessment.
For example, “entries I am really proud of”, is similar to piling, in which the learner selects posts that showcase best work, and uses a tag called exemplar.
“Resources I have tapped into” is similar to path-finding, where students identify the resources used to develop their ideas.
“Classmates whose work I have been reading” is similar to the steps awareness/articulation in which learners identify and describe the resources available to them within the learning group.
“What I need/plan to do next” is similar to self-efficacy (goal-setting) and self-judgement (looking back, looking forward).
The use of the timeline requires learners to self-monitor their progress. Something like that for student bloggers as they are progressing through their blogging activities would be amazing, so students could see where they are on their learning roadmap, and make adjustments as required.
I think that the rubric introduced by Glogowski is excellent for encouraing learners to engage in self-judgement and self-observation, providing them with essential meta-cognitive skills required for identity construction and self-regulation as learners.
Scanned Work-Notes for Faculty PD?
As a tool, Glogowski uses a scanned image of a student’s notes, and adds his own comments to the chart. This is an amazing way for instructors to track progress of learners. The actual work-notes would be likely behind a LMS rather than public, though. These types of artefacts are really useful for faculty PD when educators can sit down together as a team and go over students’ notes and their own comments to them.
In addition, I want to review Glogowski’s self assessment sheet
“Evidence of Data-Gathering” is very similar to Berry-Picking, Self-Reaction, and Self-Judgement, in that it asks learners to consider their sources of data, and evaluate if the factual data is sufficient. In addition, they need to identify gaps, and select and formaulate strategies for overcoming the gaps. I think that requiring student bloggers to assess their data-gathering result, and reflect on the stratgies they have used, are worthwhile activities.
“Evidence of Understanding” is similar to sense-making, but seems quite nebulous. In this case, the evidence seems to be the act of praphrasing, summarizing, describe, explain, and outline others’ ideas. This is probably the greatest are for potential development for educators to provide the required scaffolding for successful student blogging.
“Evidence of Reflection/Analysis” is similar to weaving, sense-making, and to some extent, self-presentation. Glogowski explains that evidence of reflection/analysis consists of judging, critiquing, evaluating, and comparing, among others. My tentative theory just now is that the act of critical analysis is an extremely complex mega-skill, involving a host of smaller processes that work together. While blogging about a topic of interest, for example, you are motivated to re-examine, and build on, ideas, just as I am doing, drawing other ideas into my mental schema of the moment, and comparing and contrasting the two sets of ideas side by side, seeing if there are connections, and seeing where the ideas diverge and contradict one another.
This, for me, is the greatest challenge, and greatest potential, for using the blogging tool: for learning how to engage in mature critical inquiry. I realize, though, that a new blogging process taxonomy needs to emerge before the tool will be used in its own right as a tool for learning.