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   Table of Contents

abstractbackgroundoverviewstage onestage twoStage threeThe ProjectAdoption of TechnologyContributing factorsOutcomesParticipationbasic literacydigital literacyInteractivityTechnology for teachingConclusionAppendix AAppendix BReferences



Abstract

This paper examines the introduction of blogging software to the students of a teacher training program at Korea National University of Education.  It follows the process, from the organization of materials to a step-by-step introduction to the software and finally, the participation of the teacher-trainees to this emerging technology.  The preparation of the blog and associated instructive materials were fairly straightforward however, the pattern and type of student contributions were affected by participant’s previous technological experience and their beliefs concerning the relevancy of the blogs within education.  Outcomes showed an increase in digital literacy, a raised interest in using technology for teaching and a stronger social connection between class members.  Although the project can be considered a success, added technical support and more tangible incentives need to be offered before the blogging software might become useful in the teacher-trainee’s repertoire of pedagogical tools.

Background

Currently, the Ministry of Education in South Korea is providing professional development to non-native English teachers in an intensive six month program with the goal of improving English education in the public school system. For administrative purposes, the program is affiliated with Korea National University of Education (KNUE). During each semester, approximately one-hundred and seventy teacher-trainees at the program live in a dormitory while concentrating on language acquisition and teaching methodology.

The Intensive English Teacher Training Program (IETTP) has two major faults that are being addressed with this project. The first is a lack of ICT training for the trainees in the program. There are no courses in which they can gain experience with using software or the internet for their own learning needs.  Many of the Korean teacher-trainees are older and complain that their exposure to new literacies, particularly on the internet, is limited.  Comments include, “I can never find what I’m looking for”, “I don’t understand all the new technology” and “I never know what to click on to get the right information.”

The second problem is that Korean teacher-trainees are 'wired in' with new laptop computers, projectors and other technology but have very little understanding of how to harness it effectively for their own classrooms (Sam-Young, 2002).  This is particularly troublesome as their high-school and middle-school students are extremely proficient with technology, relegating the teacher-trainees to a position of not being able to compete with the world of IPods, cell phones and gaming (Prensky, 2001).

This will be the first attempt in the IETTP program to utilize technology as a medium of communication and as a potential teaching tool.  For the purpose of anonymity in this paper, pseudonyms already in place for the IETTP program will be used for any references to trainee contributions.

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Goals and Overview

The goals of the blog project were to;

*      Enhance target language literacy

*      Raise the level of technological competence including that of the blogging software and general digital literacy. 

*      Stimulate communication and social interaction between students

*      Open the possibilities of using the technology for teaching

Each teacher-trainee created a blog which was then be listed on the ‘mother blog’, Nicole’s Conversation Class Blog, maintained by the instructor.  The trainees were responsible for writing one question on their blogs and answering three of their classmate’s blogs per week.  Participation was weighted at 10% of their total class grade.

The project was conducted in three stages;

stage one, two and three diagram 

Figure 1

Stage One

Permission for the project was given by the administration and multi-media labs were secured to allow trainees to participate over the course of the project.  Although it was felt that some of the blogging might be done from home on the weekends, abundant computer access allowed trainees to blog at any time of day or night while staying at the center.   It was anticipated that thirty minutes a week would be sufficient for their involvement.  A time table of ten weeks was allotted to the first trial which was in accordance with the semester schedule and insured that the 36 teacher-trainees would be available for the entire project.

After an examination of several blogging services including My Thoughts and Edublog,  Blogger.com was eventually chosen for the project. The site followed several good web design principles in having a clear navigational structure, a clean layout and easy to read font (Bernard, 2002).  Another attractive aspect of this service was the clearly illustrated three step creation process which, it was believed, would reduce confusion.   Its’ multi-language platform  also permitted students who were less confident with their English ability to solve complicated software related issues in their native language.  Additionally, Blogger software has features which authorize a considerable amount of user control over the HTML and the visual appearance of the page.  All of these features were supported with a well structured help section.

Stage Two

A PowerPoint demonstration, named Blogging in Education, was shown in an introductory workshop.  The slideshow promoted the use of blogs as a teaching/learning tool as well as demonstrated a step by step procedure for creating a blog, illustrated with actual screen shots of the website (see figure 2)

The trainees were then given thirty minutes to create the blogs in the multi-media lab.  The instructor was present to answer questions and assist.  After the process was complete, the website URLs were recorded and linked to the instructor’s mother blog. 

blogger  blogger1

Figure 2 [www.blogger.com]

Stage Three

Over a period of ten weeks, the trainees were encouraged to use their blogs every week for communication.  They were told that if their blogs were updated at a regular interval that this might promote more interactivity but were not given a strict schedule to follow.  They were also reminded of the rules of netiquette and asked to respect their classmate’s opinions. 

During this time, the instructor’s blog was used to disseminate information about blogs and education, increase transparency of the project, and provide practical advice through examples and relevant links. The instructor also commented on most blogs every week to encourage participation.  An additional blog was used to record instructor observations about the process and to acutely reflect upon student progress.  This blog can be found at; Blogging Research.

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The Project

Adoption of the Technology

In Everett Roger’s Innovation ‘bell’ curve theory, (2003), adopters of an innovative technology fall into five categories, innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards.  These categories of adoption quickly became evident as the project got underway at the preparatory workshop and continued to play a role throughout the following ten weeks (see figure 3).

As the creation of the blog was mandatory, adoption was defined by;

*      Attaining consistency of posting and commenting

*      Uploading images

*      Manipulation of the Blogger software including colors, fonts etc.

*      Introduction of additional HTML including widgets, video etc

During the project there were several obvious trends in adoption (See Appendix A)Eric’s blog was created the evening before in anticipation of the project and he also quickly manipulated his site with images and altered HTML, putting him in the category of innovator (Long, Blogging Research, 2008).   Five other trainees, including Genius and Mcluhan, demonstrated signs of early adoption by uploading images, altering HTML, coloring text and commenting frequently before the end of the first week (Long, Blogging Research, 2008).

A look at the other end of the spectrum reveals that late majority adopters such as Johnson took almost five weeks before experimenting with the software (Long, Blogging Research, 2008) & (Long, Second Question Comments, 2008).   The laggards consisted of six trainees, like Ace who did not participate readily on their own blog or others and never altered their sites in any noticeable way. 

adoption of technology

Figure 3

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Contributing Factors

Digital Literacy

To better understand the process behind the differing rates of adopting the technology, it is necessary to identify what skills are needed for using it effectively.  There are a wide range of literacies that must be mastered on the world-wide-web (see Appendix B).   Besides having basic literacy skills, today's students also require fundamental computing skills for investigating, accessing and evaluating information, communicating asynchronously or synchronously and thinking critically about messages in various media (Leu, Kinzer, Coiro & Cammack, 2004).

This was reflected in the levels of disorientation or comfort felt by trainees during the project.  Paul, Ace and Tim were all members of the laggard group and commented that their computer skills were poor (Long, Second Question Comments, 2008).  They expressed difficulties with passwords, editing functions and a general lack of computer skill. They did not match other students in their blog assignments or comment on other blogs with any regularity (see Appendix A).  The correlation between their difficulty with the technology and their blogging participation is clear.

A look at the early adopters demonstrates the reverse.  Clara and Sammy had previous experience with blogging software and commented that they had no difficulties creating or maintaining their blogs (Long, Second Question Comments, 2008).  Both participants commented on other blogs frequently and used their own blogs very effectively for communicating (see Appendix A).  There was an evident connection between previous online experience and digital literacy.

Perceived Relevance

Learning with authentic purpose motivates and stimulates students to a higher degree, (Herrington & Oliver, 2000), and trainees who felt that this technology could be used for either their own language learning or their teaching demonstrated a higher level of participation.  Clara, who was one of the top five posters, states, “I feel like my English ability for writing increasing. Benefit for using blog in communication is of course understanding others well.” (Long, Forth Question Comments, 2008).  A reply regarding practical application comes from April, who says, “I know teenagers are genius in terms of using computer and gadgets. I am going to post questions and make my students leave comments. It's a good idea to talk on line without any barrier.” (Long, Fifth Question Comments, 2008).   

Perhaps unsurprisingly, almost all of the laggards and late majority adopters were older (Prensky, 2001). These trainees, who were closer to retirement, stated in verbal communications that they weren’t going to change their habits so late in their careers and felt less motivated to take part in the blogosphere.

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Outcomes

Participation Results

By the final week of the project, 297 questions had been posted, 882 answers had been written in the comments and 50 separate incidences of editing skill had been demonstrated (see Appendix A).  As trainees were encouraged to continue blogging after the project’s conclusion, these numbers may have increased.

Basic Literacy in the Target Language

In her investigation, Sharla Jones, (2006) substantiates that writing can be improved through blogging and, although the ‘one question, three answers’ per week during this project was mandatory; the quality of writing during the project did show a general improvement.  The questions, in particular, increased in creativity and style.  An examination of Angela’s blog demonstrates a trend of routine and underdeveloped questions during the first few weeks but by the end of the project, she had progressed to topics that had authentic meaning to her and were much more complex in grammatical structure and vocabulary usage.  This was characteristic of many of the student blogs and may have been a result of the reflective and social aspects of blogging (Duffy & Bruns, 2006).  Gracie comments near the end of the project, “Blogging has impacted about my composition very much. It's like talking through writing.” (Long, 8th Question Comments, 2008). 

Blogging is also an effective tool for improving reading skills (Huffaker, 2004) & (Jones, 2006).  Several trainees commented that they had spent time reading comments before posting.  They listed several reasons for doing so including, language improvement, attempting to not repeat other’s responses, learning other’s opinions and getting to know their classmates better (Long, Forth Question Comments, 2008).  This indicates that, even when reading is not compulsory, it occurs as a by-product of the process. 

Another component of the blog’s impact on literacy was the continuation of classroom materials onto the blog (Duffy & Bruns, 2006). As an example, Jessica continued the lesson of the day by using conversation class content on her second week question (Jessica, 2008).   This allowed a topic that had only been spoken about in class to be written about on the blog.

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Digital Literacy

Creating and modifying a blog, a blog post or a blog comment requires problem solving skills and critical thinking in an authentic digital environment (Fryer, 2008) & (Duffy & Bruns, 2006).  As expanding their digital literacy was a primary goal of the project, the teacher-trainees were introduced to the idea of using widgets, images, profiles and altering the HTML of their blogs, (Long, Nicole’s Conversation Class, 2008).  This inspired 50 different examples by 31 (86%) teacher-trainees (see Appendix A).  In the first week, Michelle wrote, “Even though I am still unfamiliar with customization, I think I would get to know how to deal with that soon(I hope^^). I think trial and error is the best thing in learning~*” (Long, Second Question Comments, 2008). Over the course of the project, Michelle uploaded images, altered her font color and style and created a header for her blog, demonstrating her ability to understand and control her environment. 

Additionally, they gained insight from looking at the images and other added features of their classmate’s blogs.  One example of this was a class discussion about Angela’s vacation photo.  They correctly interpreted that Angela had enjoyed the trip very much and wanted to express this by prominently displaying her photo. 

 

Community and Interaction

Asynchronous communication in blogging allows additional time to reflect and synthesize comments prior to posting and physical anonymity which can promote greater self-expression and social connection while decreasing inhibitions (Baglione & Nastanski, 2007).  This was noted in several teacher-trainees blog comments.  Kate posted, “And it also helps me get to know what their own opinions are, even though I am too shy to ask in person.” (Long, Forth Question Comments, 2008). Introversion and insecurities about language which, are a serious issue in the language classroom, can be lessened in the blogging environment.

Blogging builds community through interconnectivity (Goodwin-Jones, 2003) & (Fryer, 2008).  Clara writes, “After visiting my classmates' blogs, I feel like much closer to them than before. I can understand the others' idea, tastes, and why they act like that. The Blog is a good place to express one's own idea and read others' lifestyle.” (Long, Forth Question Comments, 2008).  Additionally, the ability to upload family and vacation photos allowed for even more of a connection between class members. This was particularly useful during the IETTP program as trainees were not permitted to speak in their native language and exerted a great deal of effort to create relationships in a second language.

Technology in Teaching

The promotion of critical thinking, creativity, social interaction and exposure to information make blogging an attractive tool (Duffy & Bruns, 2006).  Several trainees wrote or said that they would attempt blogging upon returning to their classrooms in the fall.  Posted comments suggested that communication and student motivation are their primary goals (Long, Fifth Question Comment, 2008).  There were also a significant number of trainees that indicated that they wanted further technology training, suggesting a positive perception of the blogging experience. 

Although it will not be possible to monitor how many of the trainees actually follow through with their statements regarding blogging in their classrooms, the newly discovered knowledge that they have gained through the project, at the very least, provides them with the means to do so.

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Conclusion

This project was the beginning stage of a longer study which will take place over the course of one year and encompass 144 teacher-trainees.  Further inquires into how blogging affects the writing process, language acquisition and digital literacy will be conducted as the number of participants grows. 

The study has so far shown that there are definite advantages to introducing blogging to language learners and teacher-trainees but that there are also difficulties that need to be overcome.  Some of the advantages include exposure to more reading in the target language, an improvement in written question formation, an increase in computer literacy and digital literacy and the strengthening of social connection between students.  A lack of technology training and the inability to connect pedagogy to the software are areas that need to be addressed for future projects.

Gone are the days of the traditional classroom with its' familiar textbook and blackboard.  Education has moved learning on to a new playing field; one with fresh challenges and innovative opportunities and if those challenges are to be met, educators need to be prepared.  Understanding what teachers need in the way of technical support is necessary to ensure that they can provide their students with the best possible choices in education and technology.  This project was the first step in understanding what the teacher-trainees at KNUE need for their future.

Appendix A

appendix A

Appendix B

Basic Literacy:

The ability to understand and communicate in a written language

 

Information Literacy:

The ability to access and use information, analyze content, work with ideas, synthesize thought, and communicate results.

 

Digital Literacy:

The ability to gain a deeper understanding of content by using technology.

 

New Literacy:

The ability to solve genuine problems amidst a inundation of information and its transfer in the Digital world.

 

Computer Literacy:

The ability to accurately and effectively use computer tools such as word processors, spreadsheets, databases, and presentation and graphic software.

 

Computer-Technology Literacy:

The ability to use hardware such as keyboards, monitors, USB etc.

 

Critical Literacy:

The ability to understand written texts, images, and speaking and to question the values, and beliefs behind them.

 

Multi-Media Literacy:

The ability to communicate and evaluate expertly in various media forms, such as video, images, print, audio etc.

 

 

Appendix C

Unsatisfactory
2
Satisfactory
4
Good
6
Excellent
8
Total
blog has been created but there are no posts there are at least 2 posts there are between 3 and 5 posts on different topics there are more than 5 posts on various topics  
few comments are relevant to the blog postings at least 10 of the comments are relevant to the blog posts between 10 and 15 comments are relevant to the blog posts more than 15 comments are relevant to the blog posts  
no images at least 1 image between 2 and 4 images more than 4 images  
no customization 1 element has been altered 2 elements have been altered more than 2 element have been customized  
no personal profile short personal profile a very complete profile profile has an image and is complete  
no hypertext links at least 1 link at least 3 to 5 links a list of links that are relevant to a topic  
no widgets one widget two widgets two widgets used in a useful and meaningful way (should be explained in a post)  

 

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References

Blogs

Ace, (2008).  Ace. [Blog] Viewed on April 29, 2008. http://ace-s03-08.blogspot.com/

Angela, (2008). Angela’s Wonderful World. [Blog] Viewed on May 03, 2008. http://angela6102.blogspot.com/

April, (2008) April’s Happy World. [Blog] Viewed on April 29, 2008 http://s0311april.blogspot.com/

Clara, (2008) Crazy Clara. [Blog] Viewed on April 29, 2008. http://clara-raincafe.blogspot.com/

Eric, (2008) On the Heaven [Blog] Viewed on April 29, 2008.  http://ericontheheaven.blogspot.com/

Genius, (2008). Genius Paradise. [Blog] Viewed on April 29, 2008. http://geniuss0509.blogspot.com/

Jessica, (2008). Blue House.[Blog] Viewed on May 03, 2008.  http://rjdls55.blogspot.com/ 

Johnson, (2008). A Friend To English Teachers. [Blog] Viewed on April 29, 2008.       http://flesung.blogspot.com/ 

Long, Nicole (2008).  8th Question Blog Comments. Nicole’s Conversation Class. [Blog] Viewed on May 03, 2008  https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=7809065704339595130&postID=1486708028048036418

Long, Nicole, (2008).  Blogging Research for Edu8415. [Blog] Viewed on May 02, 2008.  http://researchforedu8415.blogspot.com/

Long, Nicole (2008). Fifth Question Blog comments. Nicole’s Conversation Class. [Blog] Viewed on May 02, 2008. https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=7809065704339595130&postID=9099317995227777961

Long, Nicole (2008). Forth Question Blog comments. Nicole’s Conversation Class. [Blog] Viewed on May 02, 2008. https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=7809065704339595130&postID=1413952985758833956

Long, Nicole (2008). Second Question Blog comments. Nicole’s Conversation Class  [Blog] Viewed on May 02, 2008. https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=7809065704339595130&postID=6993177962043631742

Long, Nicole (2008). Sixth Question Blog comments. Nicole’s Conversation Class[Blog] Viewed on May 02, 2008. https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=7809065704339595130&postID=9099317995227777961

Mclulhan, (2008). Stay Hungry, Stay English. [Blog] Viewed on May 02, 2008. http://mcluhan-mcluhan.blogspot.com/

Michelle, (2008). ITSKARMA. [Blog] Viewed on May 03, 2008. http://itskarma-michelle.blogspot.com/

Paul, (2008). Be Energetic. [Blog] Viewed on April 29, 2008. http://beenergetic.blogspot.com/

Saint, (2008).  Saint’s Wonderful World. [Blog] Viewed on April 29, 2008. http://saintelp.blogspot.com/

 Sammy, (2008).  Be Creative. [Blog] Viewed on April 28, 2008. http://sam0509.blogspot.com/ 

Academic References

Baglione, Stephen L.& Nastanski, Michael (2007). The Superiority of Online Discussion Quarterly Review of Distance Education, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p139-150, 12p, Retrieved from EBSCOhost on April 30, 2008 (AN 26266357)       http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.usq.edu.au/ehost/pdf?vid=1&hid=108&sid=b3c622b3-9dd6-4e5f-beb8-d7d4238a15d5%40sessionmgr107 

Baker, P & Baker, P (2005), ‘Teacher Adjustment to Technology: Overcoming Cultural Mindsets’, Journal  of Educational Technology Systems, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 147-156

Bernard, M. (2002) Optimal Web Design [Online], Software Usability Research    Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Wichita State University Viewed  May 01, 2008.

Campbell, AP (2003). 'Weblogs for Use with ESL Classes' The Internet TESL Journal 9(2) Viewed on May 02, 2008    http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Campbell-Weblogs.html

Duffy, Peter D & Bruns, Axel (2006). The Use of Blogs, Wikis and RSS in Education: A Conversation of Possibilities. In Proceedings Online Learning and Teaching Conference 2006, pages pp. 31-38,Brisbane. Viewed on May 03, 2008.http://eprints.qut.edu.au/archive/00005398/01/5398.pdf

Fryer, Wesley (2008). Cultivating Digital Literacy through Blogging and Podcasting. [Podcast] Moving At the Speed of Creativity. Viewed on May 03, 2008         http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2006/02/09/podcast32-cultivating-digital-literacy-through-blogging-and-podcasting/

Godwin-Jones, B (2003). 'Blogs and Wikis: Environments for Online Collaboration' Language Learning and Technology 7(2) p12-16 Viewed on April 29, 2008   http://llt.msu.edu/vol7num2/emerging/default.html

Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2000). An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(3), 23–48.

Huffaker, David (2004).The Educated Blogger; Using Weblogs to Promote Literacy in the Classroom. Viewed on May 03, 2008 http://www.firstmonday.org/ISSUES/issue9_6/huffaker/index.html

Jones, Sharla (2006). Blogging and ESL Writing: A Case Study of How Students Responded to the Use of Weblogs As A Pedagogical Tool for the Writing Process Approach In A Community College ESLWriting Class, Viewed on May 02, 2008  http://www.lib.utexas.edu/etd/d/2006/jonesd17626/jonesd17626.pdf

Kessler, Greg. (2007). Formal and informal CALL preparation and teacher attitude toward technologyComputer Assisted Language Learning, Vol. 20 Issue 2, p173-188, 16p, Retrieved from EBSCOhost on April 30, 2008 (AN 25192139) http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.usq.edu.au/ehost/pdf?vid=1&hid=101&sid=3608c519-21cc-470f-8850-79792b96e21b%40sessionmgr104

Leu, D, Kinzer, C K, Coiro JL & Cammack,(2004). Toward a theory of new literacies emerging from the internet and other information and communication technologies, Reading online, viewed May 02, 2005, http://www.readingonline.org/newliteracies/lit_index.asp?HREF=leu/index.html

Pettenati, Maria Chiara; Cigognini, Elisabetta; Mangione, Jose. (2007). Online Using Social Software for  Personal Knowledge Management in Formal Online Learning Submission, Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education v8 n3 p52-65.14 pp. Retrieved from EBSCOhost on April 13, 2008 (ED498813). http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/34/eb/4d.pdf

Prensky, Marc (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants On the Horizon. NCB University Press, Vol. 9.  Viewed April 12, 2008 http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf 

Rogers, EM (1983). Diffusion of innovations, (3rd ed), Free Press, New York

Sam-Young Suh (2002). Understanding the Mechanism of Change: Korea’s ICT Use in Education Vision. Forum For the Future of Education in Jordon Viewed on May 02, 2008 http://www.moe.gov.jo/WeB/Suh-revised.ppt#445,1,Understanding the Mechanism of Change Korea’s ICT Use in Education-

Shang, Hui-Fang. (2008). An exploratory study of e-mail application on FL writing performance. Computer Assisted Language Learning, Vol. 20 Issue 1, p79-96, 18p, Retrieved from EBSCOhost on April 13, 2008 (AN24153976) http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.usq.edu.au/ehost/pdf?vid=1&hid=103&sid=84629c11-ca39-4033-a75e-53c5723b57c2%40sessionmgr108

Wikipedia: Diffusion of Innovation. (2005). Diffusion of Innovation, Viewed on April 21, 2008 from hhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations

Resources

Blogger.com: https://www.blogger.com/start

Blogger Help: http://help.blogger.com/bin/tatic.py?page=start.cs 

Blogging in Education PowerPoint Show: http://www.njlong.com/Docs/BlogginginEducation.ppsx

Blogging Research:  http://researchforedu8415.blogspot.com/

Edublogs.org: http://edublogs.org/

My Thoughts.com: http://www.thoughts.com/

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