Author(s): Liisa Ilomäki (1), Minna Lakkala (1) and Jaana Murtoniemi (2)
Affiliation(s): University of Helsinki (1), Helsinki Media Arts Upper Secondary School (2)
Date of publication: October 16, 2015
The Educational Problem
In collaborative learning projects, especially in integrated projects with multiple subjects and study groups, there is a need to find a collaborative virtual forum for presenting outcomes of the projects and for sharing materials and links between all students and teachers. The forum should be easy to use both for teachers and students. In addition, students and teachers of other classes and courses should be able to use it, and it should be open also for external stakeholders. Moreover, it should be free of charge.
One good solution is to use Blogger, which is a blog-publishing service hosted by Google. Anyone who has a Google account, can create and edit blogs with Blogger free of charge. It is a tool for writing blogs, but in learning projects, blog format is often a suitable way of publishing outcomes. In addition to blog posts, a blog site can include sub-pages, which provides a possibility to structure and present the content in various ways. Blogger blogs can be private or public, and the visibility of the blogs in the web can be defined.
Blogger was used in a Finnish upper secondary school when teachers wanted to integrate courses in which human rights were taught, but only about 2 x 75 mins during each course. In the example case, courses of history, social studies, English language, geography, religion (ethics), media studies, philosophy were integrated through Blogger. By this way, students would get a wider understanding about the topic of human rights.
Because courses in Finnish upper secondary school are so full-packed of issues to be taught, it was not possible to organise extra collaboration time for students between courses, teachers decided to integrate the activities as much as possible via a shared blog. It was created by one teacher, and all teachers had rights to write in it. Students did not have the editor rights.
The courses were conducted at the same phase in April-May during seven weeks, before the summer break. During each course, the integration and the teaching of the topic was organised so that it matched with the aims of the course.
In general, the blog was a good idea for sharing materials through courses and contexts. For several teachers, it was the first time to use such a tool so they learned also digital competencies through using the blog.
Because the courses ended at the same time, students could not use the outcomes of groups in other courses for their own work. In addition, because the courses were the last ones before summer vacation, the outcomes of courses were not shared in the blog as much as planned.
The participating teachers planned that they will use the blog also in future courses, and for that use it is now ready. It is planned to be used also in other “human rights” projects in the school. In addition, when the courses are not in the end of the term, there will be more time to share the outcomes. If also the students have editing rights, the blog would probably be used more. Students would feel it more as their own tool, not only a “school tool”, and they would learn the academic ways of publishing in social media.
Materials and Links
- Web address of Blogger: www.blogger.com
- Human rights blog of the Helsinki Media Arts Upper Secondary School (in Finnish)